Guide to Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a term that is everywhere right now. In fact even outside of digital many businesses are looking to ‘transform’. What does it actually mean? How do you get started? What are the key areas of focus? And, perhaps most importantly, how do you know if it’s working?

This blog is aimed to help you answer those questions and serve as a guide to getting your digital transformation on the right tracks.

1. What digital transformation isn’t

When most people think of digital they think of technology. Sure, technology is a core part of what digital is but it is not all it is. Think of digital transformation like wanting to drive from New York to San Francisco. It’s a long journey and you’re not going to get there without your car so you need the tech. But if you don’t know where San Francisco is and you don’t know how to drive then the technology isn’t going to get you there. Technology is the enabler for digital transformation, not the whole answer.

2. What digital transformation is

To transform your business to become a leader at digital you need to appreciate what that means. Digital is about how people interact with technology. Your transformation should focus on making that as easy as possible. To do this you need to understand digital trends in technology and behaviour. You need to understand your business. You need to therefore see where the gaps are and fill them. Consumers increasingly have an expectation, not a desire, for personalised experiences with companies. We should know what they want, when they want it and how they want it. We shouldn’t be emailing someone who doesn’t like emails. We shouldn’t be forcing mobile users onto a desktop site. We shouldn’t be sending mass messages to people who aren’t interested. This is all very possible and yet most businesses are not getting it right. The technology doesn’t do this – you still need the strategy and data.

3. Where are you now?

Think of your business and where you are on the journey. Which of these buckets do you fit into:

Basic – you have little to no digital capability. Perhaps you can send emails and you have a basic website but nothing more and it’s all very manual. It’s never been a priority. Maybe you don’t see the value. Unlikely to have any digital experts in the team.

Amateur – you have some capability. Maybe your email system is strong, you have some social media presence and some analytics on your website. You probably know you have a way to go. Perhaps one or two digital people trying to drive change but with little power to effect it. You have some tactical plans.

Moderate – you have some good digital capability but have further to go. A responsive website, analytics across all digital platforms. Maybe an app. A CRM system. Some video marketing. Not bad. You’re where most businesses are. Digital is being driven by a dedicated team. You have a digital strategy but it’s not embedded in the organisation.

Strong – your digital channels are integrated. You have a marketing automation suite integrated with your CRM. You have a strong content strategy with amplification and promotion in place. You digital marketing platforms speak to each other and your data is used effectively. Digital is discussed across the organisation. A clear digital strategy and roadmap exists for the next few years.

Leading – everything is omni-channel and innovation. Perhaps you have VR or AR experiences. You have an advanced marketing automation platform and sophisticated rules. Programmatic is central to your advertising. Your social media is mature and broad. Everyone in your organisation lives and breathes digital and you have a digital leader on the board. Digital is included as part of the core goals and deliverables of the business strategy.

Which one are you?

4. What are you looking to achieve?

Dependent on where you are above, your goals will be different. It’s vital however that you have clear digital goals. Are you looking to provide a better digital experience for your customers? Is this about automating processes to reduce costs. Do you want to have more power and control over your data and use it more effectively. Spell out specific goals. Digital transformation itself is not a goal and you’ll regret this when you come to measure success if you’re not specific.

5. People and structure

Digital transformation is perhaps more about culture than anything else. You need to have innovation at the core of your business. Everyone needs to understand and embrace the change. This leads to more ideas from across the business. No woman/man is an island. You need a strategy that can be circulated. Regular meetings and discussions to really embed the culture. Without this the job is much harder and slower plus it has a good chance of falling apart quickly after the initial phase is done.

6. Process

Processes can involve approvals of content, setting automation rules, development frameworks, consistent analytical principles and much more. Without these processes you will never be able to understand and manage the change and ongoing management of digital. I encourage you to think through every part of the change and HOW it will be embedded and managed or it can descend into chaos.

7. Key focus areas

As part of any digital transformation project you must consider the following:

Data – how do you manage it, centrally control it, analyse it, use it for personalization, automate it

Content – what’s your strategy? What is your message? How can you authentically get into conversations? How do you amplify and promote your content? Can you bring video into the mix and live video, maybe even VR experiences.

Integration – look at your platforms. Are they talking to each other. Think about the whole stack and create an ecosystem where your email, social, sales tools etc are lined up.

Marketing Comms – is your advertising up to scratch. Do you use a DMP, DSP? Are you optimising adverts in real time to the right consumers at the right time? Is your remarketing smart or are you just stalking prospects? Are your emails personalised – send times, salutation, content, device etc. Is your site optimised for SEO in terms of content, technology and link profile?

8. Measuring success

This clearly depends on what you’re trying to achieve but ensure you set success metrics up before you start. If it’s about experience then does the change in customer feedback reflect this? If it’s about creating a content revolution then are you tracking engagement? If it’s about improving your platforms to integrate them then are you achieving gains in efficiency through better targeting and more precisely timed conversations? Develop a clear matrix to measure against or you’ll never know whether it’s working.

Hope those insights give you some guidance.

For more on developing your digital strategy and setting your business up for digital success you can get my book here.

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