There’s a reason the world’s largest consulting firms are attempting to acquire digital marketing firms: Buying is much faster – and cheaper – than learning
Around the globe, across all industries, every organization intent on surviving the next decade of economic disruption is shifting from analog to digital. Any company serious about advancing its brand, capturing its best customers and expanding its future is in the process of integrating digital technologies that will help them reimagine every aspect of their business.
And most of them are failing.
According to a recent McKinsey global survey on digital transformation, more than 80% of organizations have undertaken such steps in the past five years, but only 16% of respondents say their efforts have successfully improved performance, while also equipping them to sustain long-term change. Reported success rates in more traditional industries — like automotive and pharmaceuticals — are even more dismal (4%-11%).
Why? That 50-page proposal made the idea of insinuating new digital technology into everyday business processes, operations, communications and other systems seem so simple. Why, then, are almost 9 of every ten organizations who attempt any type of digital transformation dissatisfied with the results?
Because digital transformation isn’t just about technology. It’s about leadership and partnership and stewardship.
It should come as no surprise that one of the most important influences McKinsey identified when it comes to determining the ultimate outcome of any transformation is a team of leaders who not only understand digital tech but also feel a sense of urgency about leveraging it — who can’t wait to start the process and bring the rest of the organization along.
That’s a tall order, becoming that kind of leader. Being someone who’s willing to challenge the status quo, experiment with the unfamiliar and get comfortable with the prospect of failure. But the only time I’ve ever seen any organization enjoy dramatic growth is when they tried something (and hired someone) dramatically different.
Which brings us to an equally important ingredient of transformational leadership: Integrators. According to McKinsey, the leaders most likely to succeed in exacting change are those willing to step back and recruit uniquely qualified partners who’ll help them integrate — and translate — new digital tactics into existing and evolving business strategies.
Given that description, it follows that the best integrators do much more than just provide technical specs or practical explanations of the digital solutions being developed. They also excel at crafting and communicating a “change story” that helps employees and other stakeholders understand where the organization is headed, why it’s transforming itself, and what will happen when it does.
The integrators you choose and the change story they tell are particularly important when it comes to the evolution of your marketing systems. That digital transformation will eventually affect every aspect of your business, from product design to consumer packaging, prospect identification to customer service, email marketing to market analytics.
But building fully integrated digital systems calls for fully defined business strategies; the kind that turn big data into smart data, prospects into customers and industry challenges into marketing victories; the kind of strategies you only get from those who’ve already done it for others you respect and continue to do it every day.
There’s a reason the world’s largest consulting firms are attempting to acquire more sophisticated digital marketing firms: Buying is much faster — and cheaper — than learning. Today’s marketing technology and tools can be complex and confusing, so once the general plan has been accepted, these generalists need a team of specialists who can actually make it work; from your technical stack and digital marketing platforms to your data management systems and creative content.
In today’s hyper-connected world, brand equity is now often predicated exclusively on the prospect or customer’s last interaction with your organization — personally or otherwise. So, the object of the digital transformation game is not just increasing efficiency but reducing friction; to produce actionable intelligence that allows you to expedite transactional activity and reserve human interaction for instances when human interpersonal skills are really needed.
Combining smart, connected and emerging technologies to digitally transform your marketing allows you to shift your entire focus toward hyper-personalized experiences that attract, engage, encourage and retain your best customers.
But as I pointed out in another recent editorial, “Your Customer Is the New CMO,” the first step may be building a more sophisticated strategy for harnessing your customer data. Defining protocols and practices that extract meaningful insights about those you already serve allows you to understand and interact with each of them in a new, dynamic way. And changing the lens through which your organization views its entire business can deliver powerful, profound rewards.
Michael Priem is founder and CEO at Modern Impact, an AdTech firm in Minneapolis that specializes in omnichannel marketing, AI and machine learning. Clients include Samsung, Best Buy, Delta Dental, HP, Harley Davidson and many others.