To be successful digital marketing and transformation must be adopted throughout the organization, and above all else it must be based on principals driven by your customers wants and needs. It must connect your customer more closely with your brand, and the strategy must be part of your overall business strategy. Imperative to all of this it must be consistent with your brand message and image. Failure to do that causes significant problems with the consumer as they find brand messaging disconnected throughout the organization which causes confusion and lacks credibility in the minds of that consumer.
The following article tells an interesting story that helps to define the objectives of a strong digital team and marketing effort. Check it out.
Digital Transformation Must Start At The Top
by Linda Taddonio
Co-Founder And Chief Ecommerce Strategy Officer
A few months ago, I heard about three digital-transformation leaders who had been relieved of their digital-transformation project duties. Their roles and responsibilities were similar, although their titles ranged from director of IT and digital marketing manager (at a major manufacturer) to CIO (at a major distributor).
- Many of today’s digital-transformation projects either start with the CMO or rely heavily on CMO buy-in.
- Aa strategic plan takes into account an understanding of the opportunities from a customer point of view.
- Digital change impacts nearly everything in an organization, so on some level, everyone needs to have a voice.
These individuals had been tasked with bringing digital innovation and transformation to their organizations. From the outside, it seemed as if each one was doing his or her job well.
So I couldn’t help but wonder: What went wrong? Were their individual voices not loud enough? Was the complexity of their initiatives not widely understood? Did their technology partners fail?
In truth, I’m sure there are myriad reasons for each departure, the details of which I’ll never know. But it got me thinking: Digital transformation is a tough job. Whether the goal is to create a new digital commerce strategy, implement big data tools, deploy a new CRM suite, or integrate partners across the supply chain, transformation impacts everything.
To do it right, companies need a strategic plan, a dedicated team of internal and external partners, and buy in from a wide set of stakeholders. This is especially important for CMOs, considering that many of today’s digital-transformation projects either start with the CMO or rely heavily on CMO buy-in.
Embrace Disruption, But Be Strategic
Sufficient research already exists suggesting that marketing should own digital-transformation initiatives since the voice of the customer must be the loudest voice. However, CMOs must have conceptual agreement from other executives on how the journey progresses.
One of the first steps is to get executive alignment around a strategic plan that outlines business goals, strategies, and objectives from a disruptive, innovative standpoint. This 10,000-foot, three-year plan should address the business opportunities and requirements from each team, including finance, technology, marketing, sales, operations, and measurement. It also takes into account an understanding of the opportunities from a customer point of view.
Building a digital-innovation team is another must-do. The team should have three to five internal staff and two to four outside partners. It’s a good idea to “pair up” skill sets with an internal and external perspective. This provides the internal expertise required to truly understand opportunities and challenges, with an external perspective that can help break down barriers by thinking “outside the brand.” Executives should view this team as a way to de-risk the critical nature of the endeavor and to ensure that fingers are never pointed at one individual.
That said, expect healthy contention among team members. A key role of the team is to work through issues and keep moving in a forward direction. Another key cultural element is that senior management allows for the team to iterate on initiatives and “fail fast” as the journey evolves. But there are barriers. Innovation by default requires a company to be off track, so to speak, and most businesses work very hard to stay on track. Almost all are hindered by existing internal processes, strong individual voices, splintered teams, or a lack of decision-making power.
A recent survey from MIT Sloan Management Review discovered a clear split in the perception of urgency around technology change between top managers and the teams below them. The further down the organizational ladder, the less satisfied employees are with the pace of digital transformation within their organizations.
Not surprisingly, these same employees have a desire to see more innovation at a faster pace, and they are willing to support it. The study found that in situations where senior managers shared their vision for innovation with employees, a staggering 93 percent of employees agreed with managers that digital transformation was the right thing to do.
CMOs and other managers tasked with digital transformation need to understand that these initiatives do not (and cannot) exist on an island. Digital change impacts nearly everything in an organization, so on some level, everyone needs to have a voice.
Despite a growing acknowledgement for the need for digital transformation, companies will continue to struggle with success until a spark initiates a change and the organization capitalizes on the spark to create a fire. As soon as the spark ignites, organizations must be prepared to adapt and move past operational and technological hesitations.
Be ready to change the lens as transformation moves the brand or the team outside of their comfort zones. Don’t expect an easy transition. As we’ve seen, sometimes key visionaries pay the price. However, it’s important to remember that organizational disruption is necessary. In the end, it’s not the businesses that power throughthat thrive, but those that manage through the transition for everyone’s benefit that succeed.