You may have already begun charting a concerted digital transformation roadmap for your business prior to the beginning of the pandemic. But, if there was ever a time to finalize your blueprint and carry out your company’s digital transformation strategy, today is it.
Silicon Valley entrepreneur Richard Yanowitch said it best for MarketingProfs:
- “Now, more than ever, organizations must depend on digital channels to maintain customer connections and plant seeds for future growth.”
The business landscape has changed considerably. You’ve likely adapted your marketing plan to cope with COVID accordingly. But more is likely required from you and your team to thrive in the perpetually changing business environment.
Specifically, you need to devise a dedicated digital transformation strategy that:
- Enables cross-channel, real-time, first-party data liberation to target audiences
- Empowers you to become more efficient and effective in your day-to-day role
- Affords you the opportunity to better understand and interact with customers
Now, digital transformation certainly means different things to different individuals.
At its core, though, the oft-discussed, long-term initiative is a cross-functional approach meant to improve business processes for multiple departments within a given company.
More often than not, though, the execution of a digital transformation initiative falls on the shoulders of growth-focused teams like marketing and customer experience (CX).
And for good reason: They’re responsible for constantly improving their CX efforts — a task that requires both a modern engagement mindset and model as well as the optimal digital technology mix to help them orchestrate timely, relevant lifecycle messaging.
But the most successful transformation and innovation strategies today are companywide efforts that involve users and teams across the business — not just marketing.
Getting C-suite buy-in: Your digital transformation roadmap starting point
Before business users can start (or restart) a digital transformation initiative, though, they must first develop an action plan (or, a “capability map,” as Deloitte calls it) that explains to their leadership team why such an undertaking is critical to overall business success.
The ideal starting point for crafting this plan? Auditing the people, processes, and digital tools used to achieve both their tactical marketing KPIs and strategic objectives — including and especially increasing operational efficiency company-wide.
People: Building the right digital transformation team
Break down any issues or gaps with the personnel structure across your teams, like pinpointing overlaps in responsibilities or identifying key roles you think are missing.
For instance, if your marketing team doesn’t have a marketing ops specialist, it might be a position to address. As Gartner stated in its 2020 report on the increasingly popular role:
- “Marketing leaders have long been chasing the promise of fulfilling operational efficiency and effectiveness at the same time. … Appointing a leader to head up marketing operations may be the solution.”
Gartner Senior Director Analyst Sally Witzky added that hiring a marketing ops specialist can “lead to less dichotomy and fewer trade-offs between efficiency and effectiveness.”
Strategist and CMO advisor Elizabeth Shaw echoed this sentiment in our Q&A with her, noting marketing ops is “one of the hottest roles in marketing today” for good reason.
Relay how operational efficiency and marketing output can be improved in your distinct digital transformation roadmap through highly specific (not high-level) personnel adjustments, and, odds are, your executive team will respond favorably to your pitch.
Processes: Streamlining your daily marketing activities
Outside of addressing your team configuration and day-to-day duties, it’s equally imperative to determine what has and hasn’t worked in terms of your workflows.
Maybe you’re stuck in campaign management mode and haven’t realized the desired return on investment because your team is too busy figuring out how to get customer data from one place to the next, instead of focusing on designing creative experiences.
Or, perhaps your personalized marketing to target segments is faltering due to waiting on IT or analytics teams to build and share custom segments that are days or weeks old by the time they’re used and, in turn, prevent effective real-time marketing.
Whatever the particular pain points you’ve experienced, be honest and upfront about them with your C-suite. Then, propose explicit changes and adjustments that can resolve them.
Technologies: Considering the digital tools required
This is where it can get tricky for marketers and CMOs, in particular, when mapping out their respective digital transformation efforts for the months ahead.
Why? Because their business model differs from the operating model of every other company — even close competitors in the same niche or targeting the same audience.
Therefore, the technology one needs (and, ultimately, the stacks they build) to accelerate their digital transformation strategy will look far different from one company to the next.
Having said that, relying solely on legacy tech (CRM, campaign tools, etc.) and marketing cloud suites is making it more difficult for marketers to transform digitally.
By adopting more advanced marketing solutions, like a customer data platform (CDP), enterprise organizations can plot a clear path forward to scale, streamline, and transform both their marketing programs and business strategies at large.
Advancing your digital transformation strategy with modern technologies
The proof? Just look to one large-scale company that invested in our pure-play CDP.
Speaking with our team at MarTech East 2020, VF Corporation Sr. Director Global Digital Consumer & Analytics Products Reem Seghairoun explained how VF’s digital transformation process, which began in earnest in 2018, ultimately led her and her team to discover the CDP was exactly the technology they needed to execute their strategic shift.
However, Seghairoun made it clear she was never under the impression a CDP (or any other technology, for that matter) is a silver-bullet solution to her transformation needs:
- “If you start with a clear understanding of what problem you’re trying to solve and look at the larger picture by forming use cases that support your consumer objectives, you’ll know very quickly it takes a very complicated ecosystem to make that happen.”
Translation: Seghairoun and Co. recognized a pure-play customer data platform that liberated data for their organization needed to be a critical component of their digital transformation roadmap.
But they also understood a hub-and-spoke, best-of-breed tech stack built around a CDP was also a must in order to realize their vision for enhanced marketing outcomes.
To determine if the CDP was providing the desired quantitative and qualitative value for her global team — and, in turn, helping drive the digital transformation strategy she envisioned — Seghairoun asked herself two important questions:
- 1) Is the CDP really supporting us to do a better job (and at a lower cost internally) and creating operational efficiencies for marketing and the entire business?
- 2) Does the CDP align with our consumer-centricity objectives and enable us to have that great relationship with and provide a stellar customer experience?
It’s this balanced focus on internal operational efficiencies and external engagement with its prospects and customers to ensure the highest-quality CX is delivered to them that helps Seghairoun and her marketing org thrive with our platform.
“We have a presence online and in stores, so we wanted to make sure we have a technology that allows us to have a seamless integration [across brands],” Seghairoun noted.
Setting out on your digital transformation journey with a new marketing outlook
VF Corporation has seen (and continues to see) significant progress in both overall efficiency and its customer lifecycle marketing outcomes thanks in part to our CDP.
But it’s really the implementation and mastering of the tech for one of its brands to start with that now enables VF’s analytics and marketing organizations to intensify its digital transformation strategy by using its initial CDP blueprint for other VF brands:
- “From a technology perspective, from a people perspective, it got people familiar with the tool … and [helped us] see if the implementation can go really well before we scale,” Seghairoun said.
With a wealth of high-quality customer data in its database ecosystem — from engagement and behavioral data to products and services bought — it has been a strategic imperative for Seghairoun and other leaders at VF to ensure our CDP enables them to act on that data whenever and wherever they require to realize their desired results and marketing ROI.
Of course, VF’s digital transformation journey is far from over.
But the multi-brand company now has the tech foundation necessary to adapt to periods of uncertainty like 2020-21 and become more agile, flexible, and resilient in the long run.
COVID has forced many businesses to accelerate their digital transformation efforts.
The reality is that modifying one’s marketing program and changing one’s business model is now the new normal — and a must to realize substantial revenue growth in the years ahead.
And a well-planned and -executed digital transformation strategy and modernized tech stack enables a more efficient transformation process for companies across industries.
Bottom line: Now more than ever, all organizations must operate with agility.
The old and rigid ways of operating are quickly becoming exposed — and forward-thinking C-suites are investing in modern technologies that give them greater flexibility to adapt and transform their businesses and bottom lines for the better.
Schedule a BlueConic demo today to discover how you can execute on your digital transformation roadmap with our pure-play customer data platform.