Who are the digital leaders in the Netherlands?

Results of the Transformers 200 survey

Source: Het Financieele Dagblad - Transformers 200 magazine (24/06/2017)

What point are the largest Dutch companies at in their digital transformation? To find out the answer, the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad and Vlerick Business School conducted a survey called Transformers 200 among the managers with final responsibility for digital transformation at the 200 largest companies in the Netherlands, across all sectors.

We have seen that large businesses wrestle with their digital transformation. They recognise its significance, more or less, and they often have the will to take certain steps. But generally there is a lack of practical pointers to really get to work on it. With this first study and a few concrete cases, we want to help people see the wood through the trees,” says Professor Stijn Viaene in an interview with Het Financieele Dagblad. The research he conducted with Professor Steve Muylle and researchers Willem Standaert and Joachim Van den Bergh enables companies to share their experiences in the different phases of digital transformation, inspiring each other and thereby further stimulating digitalisation. The intention is to repeat the research annually and chart developments over time.

Of the 200 largest Dutch businesses, 61 were prepared to participate in the study; 50 of them actually ended up filling in the survey completely. They are active on the consumer market (B2C), business market (B2B) or both, across a range of industries. They were asked not just to compare themselves to other companies in their sector, but also to indicate who they saw as positive examples.


1/ Ranking of different speeds

Although all the businesses in the study are already working on their digital transformation in one way or another, we can divide them into four groups. The differences between the groups are considerable. Not all digital skills are developed to the same extent everywhere, and some sectors are already somewhat better prepared for the digital era than others.

  • Lead pack: these companies approach digital transformation holistically and have already reached an advanced stage of digitalisation; their digital efforts have resulted in a positive effect on company achievements
  • Chasing group: these companies have already come quite a way, but they need to ramp up their efforts for several specific skills if they want to lead the field
  • Front peloton: these companies have taken their first steps towards digital transformation; the important thing for them is to align their digital efforts better and increase their investments
  • Back peloton: these companies have only just taken their first steps towards digitalisation, sometimes without any concrete action yet.

Discover who the frontrunners of digital transformation in the Netherlands are. (Dutch only)

2/ Digitalisation is seen as strategically important

The impact of digitalisation for the companies in the study was measured according to six categories of digital skills:

  Average score*
Strategy  5,42
Culture  5,12
Technology  5,02
Process  4,99
Governance  4,97
Talent  4,59
Total score  5,02

* On a scale of 1 to 7

The highest average scores among the 50 participating companies were in the category of ‘strategic skills.’ This shows that digital transformation is seen as a strategic challenge across the entire company.

The lowest average scores were found in the ‘talent’ category. There are few companies that have advanced methods for talent development in the digital sphere, or systems for the flexible deployment of talent in digital projects.

Discover the frontrunners for each of the six skills. (Dutch only)

3/ The frontrunners see great benefits in going digital

The respondents were also asked to what extent digitalisation has had a positive effect on company achievements. Their answers are grouped into three categories.

On average, the estimated contribution of digitalisation to the company’s achievements is highest in the category of ‘internal benefits’ (such as staff productivity). Next in line is the customer category (including customer service and sales), and finally the suppliers.

Furthermore, the frontrunners see many benefits across the board, particularly in terms of customer service and the efficiency of internal processes. The other groups do not believe that digitalisation will have anything like such a positive effect on their achievements. Those businesses that are trailing behind notably see little positive impact on their sales or inventory costs.

Transformers 200 - company performance

4/ Food & Beverage scores lowest

When we look at digital skills by sector, we see that their estimations differ greatly. Respondents in ‘food & beverage’ believe that their skills are least developed across the board. Technology in particular has had little effect. One reason may be that advanced players in this sector were not included in the sample.

The energy sector however, estimated its digital skills most highly. Companies in the retail sector also believe that they have made significant progress.

Transformers 200 - sector specific

& Rankings

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