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5 Things to know about Digital Transformation

Omnichannel. Change Management. Frictionless Design. Bikeshedding. #BuzzwordBingo

If written today, PT Barnum’s famous phrase might have read, “There’s a buzzword born every minute.” But what do these phrases and trends really mean to your organization? In our new series, Buzzword Bingo, we plan to give you our take on these and other popular, oft-used phrases in Marketing, Digital, and Business today.

This series is designed to keep you “in the know,” helping you gain a clearer understanding of how each concept may or may not impact your organization, what you need to know and what’s just noise. Today we’re going to highlight one of the most popular phrases at the moment - Digital Transformation.

What is Digital Transformation?

The most “official” definition of Digital Transformation is:  

“...the profound and accelerating transformation of business activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact on society in a strategic and prioritized way.”

But that’s not how people always use it. I’ve seen this phrase used to showcase augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), to discuss the importance of a remote workforce, and I have even used it myself to explore how large enterprise organizations can leverage inbound marketing tactics to transform their digital presence.

In practice, digital transformation is an umbrella term that can mean something different for every organization. Going through a full transformation impacts your organization’s entire library of digital assets starting with:

  • Websites/microsites
  • Mobile Devices
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Business networks
  • Social platforms
  • Intranets
  • Data
  • eCommerce platforms
  • Learning Management Systems
  • ...and much more!

Based on the title, you may be thinking that this post is centered around calling Digital Transformation just another fad, but there are some important concepts behind this trend. So today, I'm breaking down the 5 most important things to know about 2017's most used buzzword.

1 - Digital Transformation starts with a shift in mindset

When we’re talking about true transformation within an organization, we’re talking about a shift in thinking for senior leadership, and usually a full culture shift. This means your entire organization will need to take a hard look at your strategy and KPIs for the coming year (and beyond) to understand how changes in technology or new technologies can be used to get you closer to those goals.

First, define the core goal of your transformation initiative. Is it improving your culture across an international organization with locations in several countries? Is it implementing systems to improve manual processes? Is it creating a new website that aligns more closely with your ideal buyer’s journey?

Revisit your strategic goals with the mindset of using digital technology to help you accomplish those goals more effectively and efficiently. You’ll find ways to improve operations, branding and ultimately, revenue generation and create an actionable roadmap that can get you there.

Depending on the size of your organization, getting this group in the same room may be a challenge. Once the discussion begins, the foundation to build buy-in is set, and the collective mindset starts to shift.

2 - Digital Transformation is about user experience, not technology

When you hear “digital,” it’s very easy to consider this simply a technical challenge. In practice, digital transformation is more about your user’s shift in behavior. We’re living in an age where the predictions for 2017 include chatbots improving user experience and virtual reality becoming a part of our daily lives. Rather than buy into the hype of the next big thing, you need to understand the needs of your users, evolve to meet those needs, and leverage the right technologies to get you there.

According to Gartner, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human. To put this in context, this means that customers could use the web, an app or potentially even text messaging to interact with you or make a purchase -- all without ever once speaking to a person. Customer preferences and behaviors have changed and buying journeys are increasingly self-directed and digitally led. This means companies need to find new ways, using strategy and technology, to crack the code of one-on-one digital conversations with their customers at scale.

3 -Digital Transformation is data driven

Large enterprise organizations are managing an extensive list of websites, microsites, and digital assets, each collecting and storing data points. In some cases, these individual data points are in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Organizations of all sizes are finally understanding just how valuable having current and accurate data is to their success. Still, in many cases, this data is fragmented and provides little to no value toward the company’s business goals. Because of this, many organizations struggle to understand the true value of transforming their business with a digital shift.

It is paramount to identify the role that data collection, analysis, and monetization play in your company’s success and focus your transformation on improving these processes. In many cases, this will require the hard task of laying out the list of data points and their location. From there, the need for technologies to consolidate, identify trends and begin your quest toward personalization (another 2017 buzzword!) will crystallize.

4 - Digital Transformation is forward thinking

I’ve talked before about the need for consistent analysis but it bears repeating here. In order to truly achieve transformation - the kind that allows you to look back in 6 months or 2 years and see a marked difference, you have to consistently ask yourself 2 very important questions:  WHY and WHAT’S NEXT?

Asking “Why” will help keep you and your entire organization laser focused on the goals of your digital transformation efforts. Particularly in large organizations, the root of the issue is often buried beneath trivial discussions. The issues discussed may seem important at the time but in retrospect, are far less critical than the overall challenge of more customers, more engagement or other KPIs. (Remember Bikeshedding?)

Asking “What’s Next” challenges you to never settle. It’s a great way to keep everyone watching for the next hurdle, staying on top of the competitive landscape and keeping abreast of the newest technologies on the market. These “What’s Next” items will inform your ongoing strategy and allow you to pivot as you define the roadmap for your transformation efforts.

5 - Buzzword Verdict: Digital Transformation is real, but it means something different for everyone

The takeaway - digital transformation is real and it’s needed in many organizations to improve many aspects of their operations, paving the way for real change and marked improvement in efficiency and revenue generation.

At Mediacurrent, our goal is first to guide our customers through the process of discovering and defining their digital goals, and second, to work as a strategic partner to help carry them out. Our client service team schedules regular meetings to discuss “What’s Next” and our strategy team is charged, among many things, with focusing on defining the “Why” early in our engagement, challenging both teams to establish those beacons early and work toward them.

For our own organization, we’re constantly aiming to work through our own digital transformation by listening to our customers and prospects as well as carefully analyzing the data we have to pivot, try new things and create innovative content and experiences. We implemented a customer survey in 2016 to confirm we were focused on the most important things for our customers. In 2017, you’ll see this in action in a variety of ways, including a new Stay tuned!

What’s next?

Now that you’re here, you’re probably asking yourself: “Am I ready for a digital transformation?” Given that a true transformation will take buy-in and work from many departments, you will be met with challenges and will need a clear path forward in order to achieve success. Yes, a full transformation that involves every team member and every digital property can be an overwhelming undertaking.

This blog scratches the surface on the many approaches and stages to inciting this kind of change in your organization. Ultimately, I recommend starting with your current digital properties and taking a practical approach. Find ways to scale what is working with those current properties and begin discussions with the right team members that can help carry the torch with you.

Altimeter has a great resource to help you define which stage of digital transformation you are in and how to proceed. Finally, if you find yourself feeling stuck, our team is always here to help you navigate the waters of your digital transformation! 

Additional Resources 
5 Problems Large Enterprise Face in Their Digital Transformation | Video 
Using Marketing Automation for Personalization: Benefits and Challenges | Blog Post 
Growth Hacking with Content, Marketing Automation, and Drupal | Blog Post 

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