Making a total digital transformation -- one step at a time
Imagine you woke up one day and were told everything you think you know about how to run your business is wrong -- from sales to marketing right down to the way you run your IT department. Everybody told you that young, agile competitors had your business in their sights, and you needed to rethink the way you run your entire business to remain competitive and viable.
That is essentially what's happening today.
Digital transformation and disruption is having an impact on every aspect of business and business leaders across every sector have to come to grips with this and begin to steer their companies in new directions to stay competitive.
It's daunting when you consider it all at once, but experts this week at Digital Pulse in Boston suggested that by taking a steady, methodical approach, you can move your business where it needs to go. But one thing is certain: You need to be doing something.
We've all heard about disruption by now, and the ability to form entirely new companies on the fly using cloud services with much less up-front investment. Just last week, we heard Gartner say every company is going to be an IT company. What they mean is every company has to have digital transformation at the center of its strategy to survive and thrive in the future.
Time to redesign your company?
At Digital Pulse, Razorfish CTO Ray Velez outlined five ways to get your company through a transformation including knocking down silos, forming cross-functional teams, making your brand a service, acting like a start-up, and embracing diversity.
Sure, all those things are easy to say in a speech or write in a blog post, but in most organizations trying to achieve just one of those things is going to take a major cultural shift.
Most companies aren't ready for this level of change. They still think of sales leads in the same way they always have, and do marketing according to a carefully crafted plan. But customers have different expectations and they want to be part of the conversation. They don't want you jabbering at them. They want you talking to them.
That means you have to think of new ways to interact with them to get them excited about your products and services. You have to create brand ambassadors to carry your message for you and you need to engage with them in real time, online where they live. You have to get to know them, and not in a creepy "we know all about you way," but in a way that shows you know who they are and you recognize them as a valuable customer .
IT will not escape
Meanwhile, the role of IT is changing too. Gartner has predicted that by 2017, the CMO will have a bigger technology budget than IT. The digital transformation we hear about is rolling through the marketing department. But while we hear about this marginalization of IT, we see complex systems involving multiple tools and integration with a variety of back-end systems.
We hear that tools will be easy to use and marketing can hit the ground running, yet we see a reality where IT still will play a huge role in how this all works together. It has to.
Yet IT is facing its own levels of disruption as the cloud, social, mobile, consumerization. and bring your own device all have varying levels of impact on how IT does its job and interacts with the organization.
While IT is reeling through these changes, marketing and sales are just as confused by them. And your management? They have to find a way to lead you through all this, while pleasing shareholders and dealing with the political realities such widespread change can bring in an organization.
But wait: There is good news
The good news is that everyone is facing these monumental changes, so making that transformation first could give you a competitive advantage. Yet the shift to digital business is so all-encompassing, so daunting, and so disconcerting that it's enough to make you throw up your hands and give up regardless of your role.
Robert Rose, a consultant at Digital Clarity Group says it's a mistake to think you have to do it all at once. While Rose believes that companies need to find ways to transform marketing, sales, and IT to meet this new level of competition and this new way of doing business, he suggests everyone take a deep breath.
"Build change one house, one grid, one neighborhood at a time and it can really work." Rather than looking at this as entire organizational transformation, pick one area and work on that. Maybe it's something you as an individual can directly control, rather than a huge companywide initiative, but it's important for each person to start somewhere.
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