Do you think your company is way behind on its Digital Transformation progress?

Updated: Oct 9, 2018

Here’s what everyone else* is up to.

I’ve been a consultant for over 10 years and have worked with pretty much all the big CPG brands at some point over this time. This article sets out to share the five most common themes I see across many clients and aims to reassure you all that whilst you may roll your eyes at the inefficiency or general muppetry within your company you are not alone.

1. You all have sad tales of failed projects

Most companies have emotional baggage, and many of their employees do too. All too often, I hear that sign off and decision making needs to be put on hold as a result of some transformation programme that has gone wrong in the past resulting in the company not evolving as anticipated. I see this across IT, marketing and programme teams but failed Digital transformation seems to create the most baggage, as the need to transform hasn’t gone away it's just now people are worried about committing to anything.

The result is that some organisations have become fearful of big projects, holding back when it comes to addressing technology transformation and innovation.

Companies need to reward employees who take risks, who embrace change, push boundaries, and encourage trying new approaches. As one of my previous bosses said to me after a rather embarrassing failure: “You try something you get two points, you fail you lose one, that’s still more than you’d get if you hadn’t tried at all.” This has stayed with me, and in a world of “test and learn,” a failure should be reframed as a learning outcome without too much drama.

2. Companies have spent £m on data projects and still don’t really understand their customers

Many brands still aren’t nailing the single view of the customer. Progress wasn’t helped by many of the GDPR related guidelines advising companies to keep all their incoming data sets separate and very few companies had got beyond the basics before that. Here’s my suggestion on where to start:

· Link digital channels first

· Look at consolidating tech and data

These are the easiest starting points and will show savings. Then you can move on to driving ROI.

Or... start again with one brand in one market as a pilot and see if it's quicker. It's a scary thought but in a world of design sprints and agile working it might just work better.

3. Aiming for “best in class” rather than “one throat to choke” (finally!)

Hurray for this positive change! Marketing teams are getting better at briefing IT on their needs, resulting in some changes to the marketing stack. Traditionally, companies fell in to two camps: single vendor “We are an IBM shop”, “We are an Adobe house” OR a siloed jumble of self-built tech that wasn’t compatible with anything else. Now, in recognition that there isn’t a single stack that meets all marketing technology needs, companies are looking for best-in-class capability, mixing up vendors and consciously recognising what IT and Marketing need, and where they need to cross over and collaborate to deliver the best results (Although this doesn’t mean you should have two DMPs or best in class tech that isn't integrated).

4. Many international companies still have dysfunctional relationships with their local markets.

Every time I think that I’m done with consulting and would like to go back client side I consider this one and change my mind. With the central teams often owning technology projects and the frequency with which said technology projects over-run, over spend, under deliver I’ve seen many instances of markets not trusting HQ to understand or meet their needs in their time scales, so they go on their own path. If Central offer to pay for the programme that reduces barriers, but problems can occur later down the line if the local teams aren’t then trained. “If we build it and employ smart people then it will be fine” said one client to me. Three months later we met again, and the local adoption of the tech was “only 50%”.

I hold the C-Suites responsible for this; market and central leaders need to agree to follow the same path and leave egos to one side when it comes to the WHOLE organisation being capable of delivering modern marketing capability.

5. Finding the best capability: In house, outsourced or hybrid

Companies are frustrated at having to rely on third parties. There is definitely a shift with the opinion that the best solution might be to bring all capability in house. Confidence is still lacking though so, for now, most companies are settling on a hybrid solution that includes both in-house and outsourced resources. Organisations are slowly beginning to incorporate digital and marketing technology experts into their businesses to facilitate the move to a completely in-house function, creating ultimately a more competent team. This is a great change, and even if you’re going through a recruitment freeze, I would advise that you make an exception for data and digital talent.

Did you relate to any of these? Let me know!

*ok not everyone else but includes experience with finance, automotive, retail, CPG, tobacco and alcohol

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