Trading Places

Digital transformation is an oft-used phrase, yet it still surprises me how few people, and I am talking qualified people, either fail to understand it or fail to deliver it properly. 

Mark Hopkins
Mark Hopkins
Data and the Digital World Around You
Data and the Digital World Around You
JOURNEY OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

Listen, I am not complaining. Smoothing the edges of a difficult process is what I am allegedly quite good at. I am just saying there's quite a low bar when it comes to proper transformation.

True digital transformation is an amazing thing to be part of. Especially if you’re involved in the whole journey. From out-dated digital, dwindling market share and dispirited staff to team alignment, persona definition, and user-interface development. From refining proof of concepts right past chucking out old processes, testing applications, identifying and refining your tone of voice to watching real-time customer data flooding in. Data that proves your joined-up thinking is resonating with target audiences.

Data Drive Customer Data
Data Drive Customer Data
MARVELS OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

For me, true digital transformation requires more than just an agency who can kick it out of the park. It requires a good client. Someone who’s hungry for change; who’s open for working collaboratively; who’s willing to trust, take good counsel and ask (nay demand) results. I have been blessed to work a few of these over the years and, honestly, they’re a marvel to work with.

Touch of Digital Transformation by Nature
Touch of Digital Transformation by Nature

Transformation, by its very nature, involves a tonne of people. It involves switching old processes, infrastructure, and tech for, well, better everything. Naturally, this means you’ll find plenty of obstacles along the way. Stakeholders who loathe changing ‘stuff’; who have their own singular objectives and, crucially, are suspicious of outsiders telling them what and how to improve.

This is where a plan and, to be honest, a lot of patience comes in. No-one can argue when logic and data underpin a strategy that will deliver real, tangible results, improved market share, brand recall and, importantly, happy staff. The key here is to just make sure said plan qualifies every assertion, has plenty of review milestones and, crucially, doffs its cap to the financials.

So you can see that transformation isn’t just about tech. It’s about creating something tangible that aligns staff which previously didn't work together collaboratively; that helps define objectives, new features, and functionality, identifies possible new audiences, focuses teams, scales over time and has a large focus on continuous improvement.

PROCESS, TECHNOLOGY AND TRANSFORMATION

Process and technology, in my opinion, are what bring the plan to life. Tech-wise, we partner with Sitecore – the world’s leading experience management platform – to leverage the customer experience we’ve created on the front end. Supporting the user journeys, optimised content and user interface is a scalable, code-friendly CMS which also houses a CRM, data analytics and scores of integration-ready tools. 

Digital Transformations and Solutions
Digital Transformations and Solutions

Sitecore is our default tech for several reasons. For its intuitiveness and ease of use (for authors), its security credentials, its tag management, its ability to spin up forms. For its workflow and, importantly, because of its usefulness in connecting to ERPs and all the necessary software that are pervasive in true, end-to-end transformation. In short, it’s the Swiss Army knife of CMS’ – a great piece of engineering that pays dividends the more you invest it.

Process, I think, is where agencies and clients go awry on the transformation journey. I have seen meticulous digital products come unstuck because of failed author training; failure to analyse customer data (and optimise journeys); and refusal to dedicate budget to content – be it publishing strategies or crowbarring in the old site content. Worse still, I have seen budget redirected to ATL programs when Phase 1 of a site just crawled over the line. This, trust me, is when the carefully curated gains start to atrophy and your business slides backwards.

Transformation, you see, is a commitment. An investment that, done well, pays back over time.

It certainly isn’t something that finishes the moment your URL propagates and colleagues start re-tweeting the new launch post. Quite the opposite. It’s about living, breathing and operating as a digital entity. Where systems are automated, email campaigns personalised and served based on behaviours; where data analyses identify new customer types; where campaign sites can be deployed in hours (not weeks); and where content ideas go viral because some smart marketer finally clicked that social can cross geographical borders and generate traffic far in excess of paid media.

While many companies have started this journey, too few have achieved it fully. Maybe it requires too many stars to align, or quite frankly there are too few cases of symbiosis between client and agency. Maybe it’s too hard to justify the investment in the short term. One thing’s for sure, when it does all join up the results are magic. It can advance brands from nowhere into industry leaders, and create a positive, forward-thinking culture that helps attract (and retain) staff – two of many reasons why digital transformation will always retain its allure.

While many companies have started this journey, too few have achieved it fully. Maybe it requires too many stars to align, or quite frankly there are too few cases of symbiosis between client and agency. Maybe it’s too hard to justify the investment in the short term. One thing’s for sure, when it does all join up the results are magic. It can advance brands from nowhere into industry leaders, and create a positive, forward-thinking culture that helps attract (and retain) staff – two of many reasons why digital transformation will always retain its allure.

While many companies have started this journey, too few have achieved it fully. Maybe it requires too many stars to align, or quite frankly there are too few cases of symbiosis between client and agency. Maybe it’s too hard to justify the investment in the short term. One thing’s for sure, when it does all join up the results are magic. It can advance brands from nowhere into industry leaders, and create a positive, forward-thinking culture that helps attract (and retain) staff – two of many reasons why digital transformation will always retain its allure.

While many companies have started this journey, too few have achieved it fully. Maybe it requires too many stars to align, or quite frankly there are too few cases of symbiosis between client and agency. Maybe it’s too hard to justify the investment in the short term. One thing’s for sure, when it does all join up the results are magic. It can advance brands from nowhere into industry leaders, and create a positive, forward-thinking culture that helps attract (and retain) staff – two of many reasons why digital transformation will always retain its allure.