Company digital transformation is something that most enterprise brands today have set as an extreme priority. Mid-market brands too are beginning to shift company resources to make investments that digitally transform their businesses from the ground up. So, whether you are a mid-sized local brand or startup with either a B2B or retail B2C focus, a priority of improving your brand’s technologies, digital marketing integration and frictionless customer experience across your company will inevitably be forced upon you.
Transforming your company digitally isn’t just about marketing, it is about upgrading connected operational, management and advertising technologies that impact every aspect of your business. While digital transformation of a business must also include transformative marketing integration strategies that cross all channels and touchpoints, it is also about bringing data and actionable information together in more seamless ways, as well as making that data useful within all areas of the business.
If I was asked to define digital transformation in a simple statement that could be understood by any level business person, I would state it like this…
Digital transformation is the tearing down of silos within a business. This would include siloed data, technologies, marketing and operation functions, processes and resources to more efficiently and effectively conduct business in an effort to positively impact customer experience, business decisions and all levels of company processes and metrics in today’s digital environment.
For many mid-market or mid-sized local and regional brands, setting priorities for digital transformation isn’t going to be an easy exercise. In fact, many companies within these company size segments are lacking the talent and budget to move toward and ultimately through the total digital transformation process anytime soon. However, it is imperative that brands of all sizes embrace the ever-changing digital climate, take the appropriate steps and allocate the necessary resources to effectively impact their brand’s digital footprint at the highest levels possible.
Commitment to digital transformation for a brand of any size is a must, then taking strategic action toward that commitment has to be taken seriously and with the utmost urgency.
What are the priorities for brand digital transformation today?
A recent study conducted by Altimeter surveyed digital transformation professionals within organizations across North America and Europe about the resources and priorities that are being put toward their digital transformation. The report outlines the substantial investments that large brands are making into literally every aspect of technology, infrastructure, operational systems and marketing that are crucial to their business success.
Since nothing since the industrial revolution has rivaled this time in history for companies struggling to remain relevant, profitable and stable into the future, I believe that detailing the priorities of digital transformation being executed by some of the biggest brands around the world can offer mid-market and mid-sized SMB brands an opportunity to make really good decisions before it’s too late.
The Altimeter study offers some extremely specific areas of focus where large brands are making significant financial, talent and resource investments to transform digitally. Following are the top priorities that these companies are focusing on.
1- Nearly half of the brands who were surveyed stated that they were investing in omni-channel marketing with a focus on creating seamless customer experiences across all social, mobile, web and ecommerce platforms. (For more on what omni-channel marketing is, read The Difference Between Multichannel and Omnichannel Marketing)
2- At almost that same rate, brands said that they were investing in better ecommerce and mcommerce platforms, systems and processes as a part of their company’s digital transformation priorities.
3- 43% of digital transformation respondents are applying resources that modernize their IT infrastructure and investing in new technologies that strengthen their efforts to increase digital agility, flexibility, manageability and also digital security.
4- 42% stated that they are investing into research that better defines their customers’ digital touch points and the important customer journey. We find that many mid-sized and startup brands substantially miss this point within their planning and marketing efforts. Brands need to shift their thinking on customer journey research to better understand their customer online and be able to interrupt their attention at appropriate times within the journey.
5- 39.2% of larger brands are allocating investment resources and formal systems in order to accelerate innovation within their organization. Innovation is at the core of brand digital transformation and therefore discovering new ways to create, operate and excel should be a priority within mid-sized brands today.
6- Nearly 35% of brands stated that upgrading and improving their customer service systems and processes is a priority within their digital transformation. The focus of this digital transformation priority is to come into alignment with their connected customers’ expectations of the customer service element in their business.
The study further outlined top priorities being implemented within brands from 29% down to 23% as data and analytics infrastructure, holistic CRM and sales systems upgrades, improvements to operational agility and policy modernization, as well as corporate and departmental reorganization to enhance digital and cross-functional efficiencies.
The remainder of the priorities outlined within the Altimeter study received much lower percentages of priorities, so we’ve decided to not detail them within this piece. That being said, there were a total of 13 distinct areas where enterprise brands were placing time and resources to digitally transform. That in and of itself should be alarm to mid-sized SMB and startup brands that they too need to begin to work on this area of their business with urgency.
Once your organization has come to the realization that in fact you do need to begin implementing digital transformation within your business and have made a commitment to take action, you’ll need to set priorities and allocate resources to the effort. To be clear, most mid-sized brands are not able to easily tackle digital transformation holistically and all at once, so eating this elephant will require one bite at a time, with planning and adherence to priorities is a clear must.
When we work with a company on digital transformation, it usually has a priority within the digital marketing segment. The brands that we work with have a significant deficit in their marketing appeal, integration, messaging and effectiveness and that’s where we begin their digital transformation. Since marketing directly impacts sales, revenue and ultimately operations and delivering on those sales, these are also areas that become a priority for our clients digital transformation.
The biggest digital transformation challenge that brands seem to have is taking the first important steps. Waiting to digitally transform your business out of fear, ignorance or lack of resources won’t change the impending resultthat delay will have on your organization in both short and long-term scenarios. Take immediate steps to begin the process at whatever level you are able and then stay committed to pushing forward to transform your business digitally.