For the longest time, brands have achieved a competitive advantage deploying one of two strategies: value differentiation or lower cost. Simply put, you’re either better or cheaper.
As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the business landscape as we know it, the way companies operate internally and externally is changing – and it must. Whether you’re a CMO, CCO, COO or CEO, ensuring that digital is a priority for your organization is neccessary to help you stay ahead of the competition. Digital transformation is no longer just hype; it’s reality.
When evaluating your current business model, consider conducting a thorough audit of your digital architecture to ensure you’re working with a strong foundation. But please don’t confuse digital transformation as merely a technology upgrade because it goes beyond technology. Real digital transformation emerges when we cultivate a culture of curiosity and embrace ongoing educational opportunities that lead to innovation within a digital construct – the type of innovation that drives brand preference and aligns with your brand differentiation or expertise. Does your business foster a culture where opportunities within each touchpoint allow you to get smarter about your audience, regardless of whether that audience is internal or external? Failed digital transformation happens not because strategies are not robust, but because the culture is not ready to adopt the thinking necessary to execute those strategies.
If you’re looking to pivot and engage in true digital transformation, focus on these four areas:
- People. Do you have the talent in place to thrive with a digital/virtual focus? Before implementing a digital strategy, you need to understand whether you have the type of talent necessary to execute at the level that will maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. If you feel that you do, identify the right people and determine whether their voices are being embraced and heard in the organization. As a leader, you need to understand if they feel like they have the necessary support to execute their ideas and strategies. Invest in ongoing training and development to help your teams stay ahead of the rapid pace of digital innovation and put the best methodologies to work for your business.
- Process. Do you have efficient and effective processes? Using technology to cut costs and improve efficiency is an outdated mindset; today, it’s much broader and more significant than that. Take the long-term view with your processes, making incremental investments toward achieving sustained engagement with your target audience rather than executing on one-off campaigns. Change management is no easy task, but for your digital transformation to be effective, you must be consistent and persistent, integrating this fresh way of thinking into everything you do.
“Culture is an action that causes people to change the way they think or behave.”
– Jason White, Chief Marketing Officer, Curaleaf
- Culture. I have an untested hypothesis that one of the contributing factors to failed digital transformation is not a lack of robustness in strategy but rather a lack of cultural openness to adopting the thinking required to execute the strategy. If you’re interested in driving transformative change, you need an unwavering commitment from leadership and a strategy for manifesting this into the fabric of the organization. Identify advocates at every level of the company and elevate them as champions of the change to inspire others to get on board.
- Data. How are you preparing for activities that focus on hyper-personalization, marketing to machines, or AI influencers? Hyper-personalization is the act of gathering real-time behavioral data on customers to tailor an experience to their individual wants and needs. With an oversaturation of activity across all digital channels, consumers are craving more simple and seamless interactions with brands, and hyper-personalization delivers that. Ensuring that you have the correct technology to gather browsing behaviors or engagement statistics, to interpret user intent could create an opportunity for you to serve up experiences that inspire and delight your audiences.
Can your business model change as a result of digital transformation? Yes. Can you thrive in tomorrow’s marketplace without an emphasized investment in your digital approach? No, and that’s why we must think and operate differently as the world changes. When the right combination of talent and technology meets committed culture and effective process, ideas are both built and born. This helps an organization develop the muscle memory needed to shift its paradigm of operations entirely. As you continuously evolve and adapt to changing business and consumer needs, the digital transformation journey never truly ends.
It’s time to get started.
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