How can we identify those that are digitally ready?
Well, basically those organisations that make it easy for me to buy, get information, solve problems, all the time.
Those that make themselves relevant to me - so I don’t have to wade through a ton of generic information before I find what’s specific to me. Personalise, target, individualise and improve my experience.
There are now so many ways our industry can achieve that digitally, and routes to that purchase or information have never been so rich and varied. We have at our disposal voice activation, web platforms using AI and other mechanisms to surface specific, relevant content, virtual assistants, web/mobile apps, marketing automation.
So where’s the problem? Why isn’t everyone digitally ready?
Digital Transformation has been liberally applied to internal mechanisms (Industry 4.0, dark factories, calendar booking, and more recently remote access to systems), but external transformation has been slower to take off.
It’s no longer good enough to just publish content and let your visitors find it. And amongst larger and membership organisations we often see similar patterns. Reliance on traditional means, reliance on internal legacy systems - ‘they don’t work that way’.
Sometimes the scale (perceived or real) of upheaval is a factor preventing activity: older systems with limited interoperability, no API or other open access points or architecture.
Sometimes there’s internally-led thinking, ‘our business is structured like this’ rather than customer-focused thinking.
Traditionally this has caused tensions around the board table, especially between CTO/CIO and CMO.Tensions around who owns the budget, who owns the systems, who owns the customer experience. Often, in my experience, it’s been top-heavy IT and MIS teams who have created complexity and infrastructure and have not been able to secure either budget or motivation to shift to cloud-based open architecture. They cite security or expense, both of which are valid.
Transformation on this scale is going to be costly, so initiatives often get held back until every t is crossed. Sadly this percolates down to even smaller opportunities to be innovative and agile, and even nimble projects don’t get off the ground.
Long term this hesitancy spells disaster for these businesses. The customer finds someone else who has innovated, and the business suffers as a result; it becomes an inward-bound spiral as it’s harder to prove ROI with the business diminishing.
"Organisations have been so keen to transform, it’s led to lipservice or experimentation to be seen to be on trend."
But it’s not all doom and gloom. The new generation of CTO and CMOs are pushing this legacy thinking to change, even if it’s starting small. They’re working more collaboratively, allowing each other’s strengths to support each other and are making rapid progress in their organisations.
It needs bravery across all the three stalwart attributes; people, processes, technology. All 3 need to change or the stool falls over.
Sometimes it's a rush to a new ‘thing’ without the ‘why’. Organisations have been so keen to transform, it’s led to lipservice or experimentation to be seen to be on trend.
We saw that with the rush for mobile apps where they weren’t necessary; corporate Facebook pages which were a mirror of the annual report. We’ve all seen them. Again, much of this challenge is an inward thinking, and lack of focus on the Brand Experience for the Customer.