Just what exactly, in plain English, is digital transformation? Which companies have already undergone it, and which need to? Have some already missed the boat?
Google ‘digital transformation’ and you’ll see companies providing services for the burgeoning market needing to quickly start thinking digital.
Some of this content is great, and some is still not quite transparent. Whilst white papers detailing change and success in specific sectors are welcome, videos of consultants talking in generalities and marketing speak are less so.
The problem is, of course, that much of any organisation’s digital strategy is unique, and it’s difficult to define what excellence is, or how it can be reached, without first knowing who one is writing for.
This creates one of the challenges for organisations seeking to understand digital; starting the journey is often the hardest step. It’s difficult to know what needs to be looked at first, especially if you have the erroneous and sinking feeling that ‘everything’ needs to be changed.
You might also be trying to articulate to the board why change is needed, and to do this you need to be able to make clear points.
Over the next few months I’m going to look at how ‘digitally mature’ various sectors and organisations are and what the process entails, not least because Econsultancy is actively helping companies in this area (contact our digital transformation consultants if you need help).
Who has undergone change?
This blog post on gov.uk, 24 departments later, shows just how great the overhaul of the UK government’s digital assets have been.
Undoubtedly this is digital transformation, even though at this level we’re only talking about what has happened to the ‘digital stock’ of the government, without delving into broader organisational change and quite ‘how’ this change is undertaken (culture, outsourcing, tech and management considerations etc).
Looking at the Government Digital Service’s ‘About’ page, we can see a greater summing up of just what digital transformation can mean ‘in the round’.
There are two key implications of the strategy of Digital by Default which came out of the government’s response to Martha Lane Fox’s report.
The first implication is that government itself needs to become digital in thinking in order to deliver services which are suitable for users.
The second implication is that as digital by default comes into effect the scale of government service provision will grow dramatically and the quality and user centricity of major commercial internet properties should be our minimum goal.
We aim to make the products and services built by GDS not just best in class, but stand shoulder to shoulder with the sort of digital experience that users come to expect from daily interaction with the giants of the web.
Our aim is to be the unequivocal owner of high quality user experience between people and government through being the architect and the engine room of government digital service provision.
Government service delivery is like a supertanker we must turn. We may not be able to fully fulfil our aims on all of the existing services for a multitude of reasons, however everything we start afresh will be built with this core ethos in mind.
Honest, refreshing and a clear call internally and outwardly.
Just search our blog. They’ve been investing for a relatively long time. Even back in 2006 on the NMA blog they said:
The Arcadia Group has made a massive investment and structural change to bring web and ecommerce management in-house, servicing the brands directly.
The company now looks like a market leader that began fully formed, but it was founded back in the ‘70s. TopShop simply started on its journey before a lot of the competition.
And finally, ITV sets its stall out, too. Big changes to its websites – an improved ITV player, a revamped brand and website, and a renewed focus on content are all set out below.
We are operating in an evolving and highly competitive digital marketing(sic) in which advances in technology are changing the way in which people consume media.
We are transforming our business so that we are able to respond to the challenges of new technologies, changing patterns of user behaviour and new market entrants, while also ensuring that we are in a position to take advantage of the opportunities which the digital environment offers. The combination of our strong brands, access to content and commitment to our producer-broadcaster model gives us significant advantages but we are under no illusion about the need to remain focused on the task ahead.
There are clear signs that we are making progress against our strategic priorities, but there is still a great deal to do. As we continue to improve the efficiency and performance of ITV, we will also look at further ways to rebalance our revenue streams as we focus on content, pay and online.
So what is digital transformation?
So to get the ball rolling, let’s say that a digital transformation strategy can include, but isn’t limited to, the following:
Process of change:
- Approaches of Realisation (assessment of current situation), Transition (creating the plan for change), Transformation (change managed and realised, then attenuated).
- Aligned to people, process and tech.
- Includes assessment of internal and external factors influencing business strategy.
- Viewed from the perspectives of C-level, HR and marketing teams.
- Stock taken of digital ‘enablers’ (service and support) and digital assets (domains, sites, propositions, etc).
Change in organisation design:
- Job roles and descriptions standardised/updated.
- Work done to identify where outsourcing will be cost effective and deliver best in class.
- Work done to decide which departments should have responsibility for PR, social media, customer service, customer experience, tech for marketing, sales.
- Digital Academy to educate staff on branding/process/platforms.
- Modern Marketing Manifesto: organisations to detail their own manifesto. Statement made on balance between investment in brand experience or more clear commercial impetus.
- Guidelines constructed for favoured communications channels.
Of course, these things take time, money and hard work. This process needs to be elucidated further before applying it to your business and during application. Being agile is a challenge.
If you are undergoing digital transformation and want to share your stories, get in touch.