The pundits are decrying that marketers must embark on a Home style epic of Digital Transformation lest they get cast aside and fade into the dark waters of history. In our conversation with clients and other senior marketing management people, the overwhelming response, essentially, when asked about Digital Transformation has been “I still don’t understand what it really means and it sounds scary.” So let’s cut through the hype and boil it down to basics.
Transformation or Evolution?
These are two distinctly different words with very different approaches. That’s why we start here. If you’re transforming your business or marketing department, it’s usually because you’re in deep trouble and you need to make huge changes. Most marketing departments aren’t in that much trouble and if they are, it likely means the business as a whole is in trouble and needs to transform to survive.
So a better word is more often, evolution. It’s more approachable to senior management, can take away the fear of massive costs and upheavals. And it’s more accurate.
Digital Doesn’t Mean Everything And It Doesn’t Mean Digital
The word “digital” today has become somewhat diluted and broad in it’s meaning. Take the words “digital strategy” to marketing that means how you’re marketing in digital channels, to executive management it means the corporate strategy.
And, digital is a replacement word for “technology.” Because as marketers, we needed a better word that “cyber” and the words information technology or IT don’t work well. So really, we marketers only have ourselves to blame for creating this kerfuffle.
Cutting Through the Hype
When you’re looking to do a “digital transformation” all this means, cutting through the hype, is using new technologies or repurposing existing ones and mixing and matching.
What you are looking to do with adding new technologies is to improve operational efficiencies (workflow, collaboration, asset management etc.) or improve how you reach and connect with audiences (social media, advertising etc.) The art is what tools you keep, what you toss and how you mix and match.
That really, at the end of the day, is all a digital transformation (evolution), really is. How successful such an activity is depends largely on senior management support and good consultants that aren’t trying to sell you on a specific solution, but rather one that fits your need. This is hard since most consultants are resellers or systems integrators for one solution or another.
So step back, take a deep breath and see through the hype. It can save a lot of anxiety, stress and money.

About the Author Giles Crouch

Giles is managing partner of Ekspansiv, a global digital business advisory firm to news media companies . A polymath with over 20 years experience in the digital world, Giles brings together marketing communications, digital anthropology and digital behavioural economics for client projects. He has extensive experience with news media and publishing. Giles is also regularly interviewed by media regarding technology and industry trends. He has completed over 300 digital research projects for clients around the world. Giles co-founded the Ice Awards, an advertising creative awards program in 2001. His clients have included, newspaper, magazine and book publishers as well as pure-play digital media companies. He occasionally works as interim CIO or CDO and senior marketing guidance.

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