Leveraging Digital Transformation for Business Growth in a Connected World

Leveraging Digital Transformation for Business Growth in a Modern, Connected World

We are living in remarkable times—a unique point in history where digital and social media technology provides business greater potential for growth than ever before.

Therefore, it is important that your business keeps up with the times to really maximise your areas of growth.

At Digital Media Edge we are passionate about making the most of the extraordinary times we live in and helping business to make a successful transition from an analogue strategy to a robust digital inbound marketing and sales strategy that will drive results in this fast-changing world.

There are various components that must be considered and addressed to fully transform your business’ digital strategy:

★ Planning out a measurable digital inbound marketing strategy.
★ Developing “buyer-centric” thinking to understand your buyers journey.
★ Creating content & insights to engage, educate and add value.
★ Developing your website into a community hub.
★ Driving traffic through paid and organic campaigns.
★ Identifying and leverage the power of a social media to connect and engage with your audience.
★ Creating irresistible offers which add value to your buyer.
★ Measuring – Align all this activity with metrics and analytics to match your business KPI’s, revenue and growth goals.

Business success happens through good design and planning. No amount of passion or commitment can overcome the lack of a strategy first approach, tactics that work and metrics to measure and optimise for results.

Every business is going through some stage of digital transformation. Lincolnshire’s are no different.


What is Digital Transformation?

The impact of technology, digital and social media on society, especially the way we interact, complete research, are entertained, connect, engage and make decisions, in this super-connected world has had a profound effect on business. The change has forced investment in technology, processes and systems to allow organisations to better align with customer expectations and compete in the digital economy. Digital Transformation is not just investment in technology but the complete re-shaping of businesses.

Because digital transformation can take many forms depending on the size, industry and culture of a given business it can be hard to reach a definition that applies to all. In general however, Brian Solis of Altimeter, who has been studying the impact of digital transformation on businesses for the past decade defines it best.

 “The re-alignment of, or new investment in, technology, business models, and processes to drive new value for customers and employees and more effectively compete in an ever-changing digital economy”

Often this means a thorough investigation into buyer and customer behaviour resulting in the development of a ‘buyer persona‘ which highlights key information such as how they choose to find and consume information, the websites and blogs they frequent and the social media platforms they use most. This is then followed by a radical overhaul of business processes, marketing strategies and sales tactics to better align with the needs and preferences of the buyer.

Digital transformation is all about becoming more agile, not just with technology and digital media, but it is also about new models, processes and systems, new ways of working. The goal is to align all digital activity from marketing, sales and support to create a customer experience which is truly remarkable at every touch-point of your business.




Why is Digital Transformation Pivotal to your Business?

The disruption that the digital revolution is having on businesses of every size and in every industry has been dubbed as “Digital Darwinism” summing up how technology and society have evolved and the role of businesses in this digital society. This evolution continues to happen whether you choose to keep pace or not and those businesses that fail to embrace this change will start to lose revenue and fast.

As Ross Mason, the founder of Mulesoft.com states:

“With major disruptions happening in multiple industries, no company is too big to have the rug pulled from under it. It is no longer about the big eating the small; it is about the fast eating the slow”

The result has been a major shift over the past few years to digital transformation in every element of business. With 74% of companies currently undertaking some form of digital transformation activity it is no longer a case of “if” but “when” for every organisation looking to survive and grow in this new environment.

Download the Mulesoft report 2018


Putting the Customer at the Centre of Your Business

Regardless of challenges faced by individual industries that spark the need for digital transformation, there is one overarching reason that all businesses need to transform to survive and thrive. The way people buy and consume products has changed. The rise of digital and social media has empowered buyers and customers alike to expect more of businesses. A true digital transformation focuses ever effort on putting the customer not first, but at the very centre of their business. In a world where more and more products are becoming commodities due to globalisation, there is only one way to stand out. Make your customer experience truly remarkable.

At every stage of your digital transformation, at every meeting ask yourself one question: How will this affect the customer?


The 6 Stages of Digital Transformation

There are 6 key stages that the majority of businesses go through when undertaking a digital transformation. While it’s certainly true that the following stages represent the way that digital transformation happens for most businesses this is by no means the ideal framework for success. Executive buy-in normally occurs relatively late on in the process and can even hinder early progress. If early executive sponsorship, especially from the CEO, is secured early on it’s possible for digital transformation to be driven at a much faster pace and with a much higher probability of success.

Stage 1 – Business As Usual Mentality

A Stage 1 business tends to operate with a “but this is the way it’s always been done” mentality. A legacy view of customers, processes, metrics, business models and technology, believing that this approach remains the solution to digital relevance.

Digital is not totally ignored with parts of the business experimenting with new things, it does not mean the business is totally oblivious to the fact that the world is changing.

However, there is little collaboration between marketing, sales and support with campaigns running on social, digital and traditional channels and fragmented data collection and analysis giving a lack of understanding of the customer journey.

 Stage 2 – Digital Literacy & Testing

Usually driven by a “change-maker” within the business, who recognises that things are not working as well as the competition. There are pockets of experimentation which are driving digital literacy and creativity, although this tends to be in isolation and lack collaboration across departments.  The change-maker is creating a buzz and sense of urgency through the organisation while aiming to improve and amplify specific touch-points and processes. These initial drives form the basis for internal best-practice and examples of what is possible.

Stage 3 – Formalised & Systemised

Experimentation becomes intentional while executing at more promising and capable levels. Initiatives become bolder and, as a result, change agents seek executive support for new resources and technology. Using social media for customer care, content marketing is more structured and focused, mobile optimised website, marketing becoming more digital oriented. Individuals attending digital workshops and conferences to understand chat bots etc. Still independent silo-oriented but more structured.

Stage 4 – Strategised & Aligned

Individual groups recognise the strength of collaboration as their research, work and shared insights contribute to new strategic digital transformation ownership, efforts and investments. Driving Mobile traffic is a key part of the digital transformation and it plays a part in every part of a customer journey. All areas of the business are effected cross-platform. Customer experience is cross-platform and cross-department. More informed and more empowered than ever before. Formal groups are formed within the business to discuss this. Executive sponsorship.

Stage 5 – Transforming & Integrating

The formal groups of Stage 4 now become a dedicated digital transformation team to guide strategy and operations based on business and customer-centric goals. The new infrastructure on the organisation takes shape as roles, expertise, models, processes and systems to support transformation are solidified. Now Executive Reporting is put in place to c-level execs or board level. People are accountable at every level.

Stage 6 – Innovation & Scale

Digital transformation becomes a way of business as executives and strategists recognise that change is constant. A new ecosystem is established to identify and act upon technology and market trends, in a pilot programme and, eventually, at scale. Experimenting with innovation. Stay at the forefront of digital. Bring all people responsible for innovation together. Innovation is in technology, products, services, models, processes, work and metrics.


Where is Your Business in it’s Digital Transformation?

Every business is involved in a digital transformation in one form or another, some are well down the transition and others are just starting to transform. If you are leading the way in your company or making the case, you need to organise the key moments and milestones along the path.

The two hardest parts are in working out where your organisation or business is and evaluating what needs to be changed first.


What are the Next Steps for your Business?

Once you’ve identified the stage you’re business is at in its digital transformation you can begin thinking about and formalising the next steps you need to take to continue moving through the process. The majority of businesses require improvements to be made in the following six areas to successfully undergo a company-wide digital transformation:

  • Data & Analytics – How you track data, measure initiatives, extract insights and introduce them into the business.
  • Customer Experience – The processes and strategies aimed at improving touch-points along the entire customer journey
  • Governance and Leadership – An infrastructure that is driven by leadership philosophies that determine the fate of business evolution.
  • People and Operations – Who is involved in Digital Transformation, the roles they play, the responsibilities they carry, and how the company enacts change and manages transformation, including its roles, processes, systems and supporting models.
  • Technology Integration – Implementing technology that unites groups, functions, and processes to create a holistic customer experience.
  • Digital Literacy – Ways in which new expertise is introduced into the organisation.

Chances are you already have several ideas about where and how your company can be improved but it’s key to look at the big picture and consider how all six of these areas can be improved on an individual, team, department and company-wide level. It’s important to gain as much insight as possible when planning the next steps of your digital transformation. You should examine the progression of each of these elements separately, identify the steps you need to take to improve and choose an individual stakeholder to be responsible for ensuring that area of the transition is made smoothly.

By laying out the plan for each department, it becomes much more manageable for a company to execute smaller plans that serve the digital transformation effort as a whole


How to drive digital transformation – what drives digital transformation?

As detailed in the steps above we can see that digital transformation ‘mostly’ starts off as a series of random and unconnected tactical activities by people lower down in the organisation i.e. sales or marketing people experimenting with using social media.  The problems here are multiple:

  • Efforts are sporadic and unfocused
  • No over-arching plan for a desired outcome
  • Lack of buy-in from senior leaders

Done properly, Digital Transformation starts at the very top of the business.  The Executive team undertake an evaluation of their digital performance, either directly or by bringing in an expert agency to assist. This evaluation will drive a clear understanding of where the business is and of both the threats and opportunities ahead if a powerful digital transformation can be executed.

As with all senior management plans, once the clear need is established, a detailed strategy can be put together for the business. This strategy will span and unify the entire business since proper digital transformation tends to remove the ‘silos’ and increase inter-departmental cooperation and understanding. Done properly, a digital transformation will see whole business structures re-imagined with the customer featuring most strongly at the centre.  It will also typically see old-fashioned legacy processes updated and the use of technology overhauled to drive increased efficiency.

Depending upon the size of the organisation and the urgency, an initial Digital Transformation process can be completed in a 12-24 month cycle (perhaps 36 months for very large businesses). Typically, larger businesses will as part of the process, appoint a Chief Digital Officer to sit on the board, whose job it will be to continually analyse the market and customer landscape from a digital perspective, and to make recommendations to keep the business ahead, as technology and consumer behaviour changes.


The Challenges of Digital Transformation – company culture

Digital transformation is a complex, multifaceted process that represents a massive cultural and technological shift in any business, no matter what size. Indeed it could be argued that the larger the organisation, the slower the process of transition and for this very reason, the larger more established businesses are the most vulnerable to disruption from failing to transform quickly enough. With this in mind understanding the main challenges your business will need to overcome when digitally transforming and planning accordingly is key to a smooth transition period.

Data shows that regardless of company size or industry there are six main challenges faced when undergoing digital transformation programmes. These are:

  • Changing company culture
  • Cooperation between departments and teams
  • Resources (people, technology, expertise) and budget allocation
  • Understanding the impact and behaviour of modern buyers
  • Securing executive support from leadership
  • Risk management, compliance and legal implication

While it’s certainly worth keeping all these challenges front of mind there is one that stands out and becomes the stumbling block for more businesses than any other, changing company culture. At its heart successful digital transformation isn’t a technological feat but a human one, shifting the focus of every department, team and employee from legacy attitudes to one that puts the customer’s experience at the centre of everything they do.


How to Find the Right Digital Transformation Partner

If there’s one undeniable truth about digital transformation it’s that it’s not easy. Even for small businesses, it means rethinking and structuring the vast majority of procedures and processes. For large and enterprise businesses the amount of work and level of organisation required is quite frankly mind-boggling. This is why many businesses choose to partner with specialist digital agencies to help them plan, implement and understand the impact of their digital transformation efforts.

Of course partnering with an external agency isn’t for every business as it does represent an initial investment however choosing the right partner for your company will result in a significantly increased chance of successfully identifying and implementing the required changes and can even reduce internal costs such as investment in technology, working hours and short term hires by streamlining and managing the process.

If you do choose to seek external support to successfully transform your business there are some key qualifiers you should look for when comparing providers:

  • Do they understand your needs and goals? The key to the perfect agency is partnership. They need to understand your business inside out and be a good fit in person as well as on paper.
  • Do they have a proven track record? Consider asking to see case studies, testimonials or other evidence before investing in their help.
  • Can they offer the level of support required by your business? As in most things in business, communication is key! Can you rely on them to pick up the phone when called? Do they have the knowledge required to answer all your questions when required?