Are You Ready for Digital Transformation?

Molly Soat
Marketing Insights e-newsletter
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Key Takeaways
  • The most common hurdle to digital transformation is a siloed departmental structure.
  • The responsibility to implement a digital strategy ultimately lies with the C-suite.
  • Focus on the customer experience when creating a digital strategy.

​For most companies, digital adoption is still a major challenge and, “it’s often siloed, ring fenced, or even worse, outsourced,” according “The Chief Digital Officer: Fad or Future?,” a Forrester Research October 2013 study by Nigel Fenwick and Martin Gill. In this study, the authors argue that every organization needs a “digital champion,” whether that’s the CEO, CMO, CIO or the newest C-suite commander, the chief digital officer.

“Too many firms take the complacent stance that ‘Hey, we’ve got an app. We’re digital!’ When in reality, digital technologies are poised to fundamentally transform the ways in which firms interact with their customers and suppliers,” the study states.

Make sure that your brand isn’t simply skating by with a minimal Web presence but is working toward a digitally optimized future with some key lessons and actionable strategies from the report.

The most common hurdle to digital transformation is a siloed departmental structure.

“Many firms take a piecemeal approach to delivering digital capabilities, with competing functional groups all vying for digital supremacy and each group seeking to optimize a specific aspect of digital business: sales, interactive marketing, social media, loyalty, CRM, etc. The result? Slower and diminished delivery of next-generation customer experiences,” Fenwick and Gill write.

“Segregating responsibility for digital and non-digital touch points creates a barrier to change, but silos exist even within the digital domain. For example, marketing teams are often responsible for interactive and social media marketing, while eBusiness teams may be responsible for online sales. When social sites such as Facebook begin to enable sales, channel ownership issues rise to the surface. In many cases, teams that are collectively responsible for creating a seamless digital experience have different reporting lines and target different or even conflicting metrics. This naturally leads to wildly differing perspectives on what the role of digital is.”

The responsibility to implement a digital strategy ultimately lies with the C-suite.

“The vision of the CEO is central to how the firm enshrines digital strategy as part of the business’ differentiation in the market. Building a website or a mobile app is part of the journey, but don’t be fooled into thinking that because your firm has a road map for its website, you have a digital strategy. Digital transformation means embedding digital tools and competencies throughout your organization, not just in the customer-facing parts. This requires transformational leadership.

“While the CEO may have the vision to see the transformation into a new digital business, the ability to execute the transformation must rest in the hands of the executive leadership team. Unless the CEO can marshal functional leaders into a cohesive team unified around a core digital vision, she will need to find someone to help lead the development and implementation of digital strategy,” they write.

Focus on the customer experience when creating a digital strategy.

“In researching firms that deliver leading customer experiences, we often discovered cross-functional teams brought together to transform the customer experience relative to customer journeys. These teams are learning to break down functional silos by maintaining a focus on the customer. Digital transformation must support creating new sources of customer value, even if that’s done by using digital technology to remove cost from the core business operations, allowing the firm to lower the cost of products and services to the customer.

“The need to react at the speed of a digitally savvy consumer drives digital teams to embrace the notion that success depends upon the ability to harness skills from across the enterprise: in marketing, IT, customer experience, human resource, product design, eBusiness and operations. Successful digital leaders consistently create cross-functional teams and use agile methodologies to create and shape new digital experiences for customers and employees alike.”


Author Bio:

Molly Soat
Molly Soat is a staff writer for Marketing News. She can be reached at msoat@ama.org.
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