Econsultancy recently surveyed 700 of its users and included questions focusing on current business challenges and digital transformation.

Only 11% failed to regard digital transformation as a challenge, with 33% describing it as a huge challenge. Respondents identified with a number of specific challenges from managing talent, to board room buy-in, to cross-function alignment.

So what's to be done? Ashley Friedlein, Econsultancy CEO, has authored a presentation intended to cut through the business speak and define digital transformation and how to get there.

You can find the presentation on our digital transformation page, but here's the digested read...


What's to be considered?

  • Digital Transformation
  • Strategy
  • Technology
  • People
  • Process
  • Business Transformation


Digital transformation:

Digital Transformation is the journey from where a company is, to where it aspires to be digitally.

A digital organisation is one that:

  1. Focuses on customer experience irrespective of channel
  2. Has a ‘digital’ culture

The focus on customer experience (CX) is far reaching. Ashley earmarks Net-A-Porter and Burberry as retailers that ensure goods are immaculately packaged, just as Apple does. This isn't an afterthought, it's an indication of any retailer's commitment to selling in the round. It's not to be ignored simply because it lies far from the UX of a retailer’s website. 

Amazon regularly tops CX studies, despite not fronting a telephone number, something customers traditionally want to see. The site ‘just works’, but even this intuitive UX isn’t enough. Amazon stays on top of its game across the buying experience. Delivery is as consistent as any retailer, fast and reliable.

Back in the real world of in-store, digital increasingly meets the physical. Mobile and in-store tech are used to enhance the customer experience. 

And as for digital culture, has a digital transformation strapline Ashley considers as succinct as possible:

Digital services so good, people prefer to use them.

Maturity frameworks can help 

Here’s an example. According to McKinsey, execs estimate their organisations are only 25% of the ‘way there’.

So how do you make it happen?

Create the right environment

  • Incentivising the right behaviours
  • New blood/digital natives
  • Show/prove the value of digital to all
  • Digital culture


This is the CEO's job.


There’s much to digest, with strategic decisions to be taken on people and process, tech and ops, marketing and sales, and all in the context of the broader business. 

Each of these areas is given full thought within Ashley's presentation, but highlights include:

  • Digital as part of business strategy, with a plan and P&L.
  • Who makes decisions and within what structure?
  • What’s the culture (agile, iterative?)
  • How do you train everyone?
  • Defining tech infrastructure, data, legal, procurement – in the context of content, community and commerce.
  • Sales – how to view customer lifecycle? and both provide great examples of digital strategies.


This is now the domain of the CMO. It’s everywhere, even in politics. Can your staff use it? Which tech is most important?

Org structure

Is the goal a hub and spoke structure? Is it sensible to target the 'enlightened honeycomb’?

Growth hacking

AirBnB provide a case study for the growth hacker as replacement for VP Marketing.

New job descriptions for HR are required. How do you attract talent? With the allure of product management?


Google and the BBC are two enormous companies that have created environments designed to foster the culture of innovation.


How do we work at speed? Amazon’s two pizza teams are designed to be agile.

What does it mean to be lean and how has the Financial Times managed it?

Google, YouTube, Twitter, all work at speed. Twitter calls it ‘marketing in the moment’.

The result of getting everything right?

Digital transformation is actually business transformation. Those that have digitally transformed have out-performed their peers.

Check out Ashley's presentation for more 'state of digital' and ways in which you and your organsition can manage change.

The Digital Transformation: Agility and Innovation Best Practice Guide explores how well companies are adapting to the increasing need for organisational agility, and applying that to the service of innovation.

The report is based on a series of in-depth interviews with a range of senior digital and non-digital marketers, academics and practitioners across different sectors and markets.

Ben Davis

Published 24 October, 2013 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (4)


John Murphy, Senior Social Business Strategist at BLOOM Worldwide

Great article. "Cross functional alignment" being defined as the biggest challenge facing organisations may be partly explained by the view that the first point re. a digital business is one that "focuses on customer experience irrespective of channel."

This little credence to employees, partners, external stakeholders, senior management etc. who are all critical to business success and inextricable players of cross-functional alignment. Perhaps a digital organisation as one that "focuses on people's experiences irrespective on channel" would start to make some headway in this area. Of course, you never want to lose the customer-centricity, but it's important not to forget about everyone else to ingrain digital transformation successfully and really make it work and stick.'s "Digital services so good, people prefer to use them" does a great job of this.

almost 5 years ago


Tijana Tasich

It's so nice to see a mention of Tate's digital strategy in your article as I work there as the Digital Production Lead ;) We are currently working on the implementation of the above mentioned digital strategy. One of the first things we are tackling is digital transformation and I have recently written a conference paper on this topic. You, and some of your readers may be interested in reading it. here is the link to the paper:

Although the emphasis of the paper is on the museums, most of the success factors I've come up with should be relevant to any business currently undertaking this monstrous task. Enough said here. Keep up good work.

almost 5 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff

thanks, Tijana. Very useful - I'll be digging into this paper for future articles, I'm sure.

almost 5 years ago


David Clark, Executive Partner at Gartner

Looking forward to reading and digesting further, but I do have some real reservations with the idea that digital is primarily a Customer Experience journey. It impacts on all three value domains of Customer Intimacy, Operational Excellence and Product/Service Leadership.

I guess the work I'm doing with some of my clients is now accelerating to the point where they're actually moving beyond the label of digital itself which is really exciting as its starting to recognise that digital as a term has a shape-shifting scope and meaning dependent upon demographics, industry, socio-economic grouping etc etc.

In a connected world we can substitute the word "new, modern" in its place and its almost as relevant.

Look forward to reading in more detail :-)


over 4 years ago

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