Too often digital transformation is discussed in the abstract. But what about the practical experiences of professionals on the ground?
This was the subject of much discussion at a research ADMA Think Tank in Sydney which informed the development of a new whitepaper called The Digital Transformation of Marketing. Participants – typically senior marketing and analytics professionals – shared the practicalities of their own experiences managing digital change programs.
Between them they identified what can be thought of as the three Ps of digital marketing transformation;
(1) Positioning – how do you sell in the change?
Marketers who have been through a major change program say the way you discuss the digital transformation conversation internally is important. Many preferred to describe it as innovation rather than transformation.
The cautionary note from the Think Tank discussion – there is a danger that some senior executives will say: “Oh we are transformed now,” not realising that transformation is a permanent state of change.
Even in a digital environment there is a high degree of uncertainty. Medium term plans are necessary and need to be articulated, and these can provide confidence as employees move through the process. It is also important however to recognise there are many moving parts. Those with experience say it is important to focus on low hanging fruit and to keep a laser focus on the skills and capabilities required.
You don’t want to scare people, they warn. But you do want them to be aware of the impact on everybody’s jobs.
(2) Prioritising – Knowing where to start.
This is one of the biggest problems for many companies, especially large incumbents assailed on all sides, who often have dozens of legacy systems with which to contend. You can’t afford to do everything you want to do with digital transformation so it is better to just deal with those experiences that will actually make a difference, said the participants.
The advice sounds like the kind of wisdom project managers have always been famous for; start with small achievable goals and aggregate your successes. Ask yourself – what is the simplest, easiest use-case to go after, before you go down a giant transformation journey?
(3) Politics – Getting buy-in.
Getting buy-in from fellow executives is crucial, but it is still an area where marketers struggle according to the recent CMO of Tomorrow study conducted by ADMA and Oracle Marketing Cloud.
CEO engagement is the gold standard, say marketers who understand that top down support is crucial for success (and for knocking a few heads together).
Of course the scale of the organisation also informs the challenge as these observations from companies at very different ends of the spectrum attest.
The idea of digital transformation can confuse people and scare them. The reality however is that a well run program is about employee empowerment.
This means having the confidence to push decision making to the boundary of the corporation and equipping staff to become decision makers. And don’t skimp on the tools and the training.
Next steps: These and other issues are considered in depth in a new ADMA White paper called The Digital Transformation of Marketing. Download it today.
About the authors
ADMA is a corporate member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members contribute their expertise and insights to Which-50 for the benefit of our senior executive audience. Membership fees apply.