Let’s Get Digital 2/3: Growing Pains – Developing Digital Maturity
In my last blog, I looked at business digital maturity, with reference to the fantastic research in CapGemini’s ‘The Digital Advantage‘ report. Despite a growing market, reflected here at VMA Group in the abundance of digital communications jobs we now have available, companies have reacted in very different ways. And whilst ambitions of Digital Digerati status no doubt have you excited and ready to make that digital business transformation, how do you develop Digital Maturity? There are some common patterns that exploit the best value.
Align your digital efforts and engage the company
A strong Transformative vision helps your people understand and picture how the company will be different in the future. If you sell a lot of DVDs like Amazon, but see more and more consumers downloading movies from LoveFilm and Netflix, then you need to help your employees understand that you’re in the business of distributing entertainment, not shiny discs of aluminium, and shift the business model. Indeed, Amazon recently bought LoveFilm, demonstrating how important it is to them to ensure they keep up with the transformation and change in consumer behaviours brought about by digital technologies.
You need to ensure your digital efforts move in the right direction too, and this is where effective Digital Governance is essential. Appointing a Digital Team within your business to launch the transformation program and assist in building the digital business is key, and indeed I’ve had many conversations with businesses that are doing just this. Having a specialist team or role report into the CEO sends a strong signal to the business that this the direction the business is moving in, too.
Of course if you have a grand digital vision, then getting buy-in and Engagement from your employees is essential in making this vision a reality. This will help mitigate resistance to change, and provide a platform for new opportunities, ideas and feedback on initiatives not previously considered or are already in full swing. Without getting the business behind your digital dreams, you’ll struggle to make them real.
Shared understanding between IT and Business executives is critical to building your digital business operations. You may well be looking at redefining big parts of your business, and the technology (and the teams that work to provide it) need to be behind the dream. Having the Chief Information Officer either leading or playing a key role in your digital team makes a lot of sense.
Domains of excellence
Diving further in, it’s more than a combination of management and capability. True Digital Digerati identify where they can excel digitally, roll up their sleeves and dive into one or two domains of excellence, rather than spreading themselves too thinly to start with. CapGemini’s report asks a valid question: “What do you want to be famous for?”
Domains of excellence commonly fall within customer facing processes, like social media, customer experience, and mobile channels, or operational processes like analytics, process digitalisation and internal collaboration.
Have a look at how your current business is doing in these areas, and ask ‘where can digital help?’ Burberry looked at its strategic assets and decided to transform their customer experience both in-store and online, that included advanced customer interactions in social media. Now the company boasts a phenomenal reach to its customer base through social, announcing a 29% rise in sales and a 24% rise in pre-tax profits in the six months to September 2011, stating their use of social media and an investment in its website were part of the key strategies that helped boost performance.
Conducting your digital transformation
Your business will have to frame your challenge, ideally with your Digital Champion or team and the helm, to understand the threats, assess your firm’s digital maturity, and build your transformative digital vision.
Then focus the investment. Identify where your company should excel, decide if and where you need to adapt your business model, and build strong enterprise-level governance around your digital plans.
You’ll have to engage the organisation at scale too. Get the business moving on this early, with continuous two-way communication throughout the change. Encourage employees to identify new practices and opportunities too – innovation competitions are a fantastic way of identifying new ideas.
Finally, sustain the transformation. Fill skills gaps where digital isn’t native, quantify and monitor progress throughout the change, and ensure you iterate and improve. You will find as you develop digital practices, you’ll open doors for other positive developments within your business too.
Is it worth it?
And while this all sounds like a lot of hard work, and there’s no denying it is, remember the point from my first blog: companies that are developed in Digital Maturity outperform their industry competitors. And those Digital Digerati were by far the highest performers, outperforming less mature firms greatly on revenue generation, profitability and market valuation. It can be an incredibly worthwhile effort.
And remember: every company in every industry already has competitors who are Digital Digerati. Don’t get left behind!
What’s exciting for us communications professionals is that we touch a majority of these domains of excellence, with the potential to contribute a great deal in the customer facing and internal collaboration areas. So how can we then help our businesses along their digital journeys?
That comes next.
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