Digital transformation is now firmly on the agenda for many marketers and the businesses they work for.

However, it’s not an easy process and implementation differs massively between businesses and industries.

Our recent Context of Digital Transformation webinar looked at some of the key insights taken from Econsultancy’s reports on this topic, tackling issues that senior leaders told us were most important.

These are:

  • Structures
  • Skills
  • Board buy-in
  • Insourcing vs. Outsourcing
  • Agility

The webinar and accompanying presentation are available for free to all registered Econsultancy users.

In this post I’ll give a summary of the webinar, which was hosted by digital consultant Neil Perkin.

As an opening point, to show why it’s important for businesses to embrace change we need only look at the average company lifespan in the S&P 500.

In 1961 the average lifespan was 61 years, but that has now fallen to 18 years, while slightly less than two-thirds (63%) of companies that were in the S&P 500 a year ago are still in the index today.

This highlights the challenges companies face as a result of digital, including the impact of digital technologies and disruption.

Now, here’s a look at the different topics covered in the Context of Digital Transformation presentation.


Organisational structure can be ahuge headache, as there are different theories as to where digital skills should sit.

There is, however, a common evolutionary path:

  1. To begin with digital expertise is normally spread thinly across the organisation.
  2. It then becomes centralised as an important pillar in the company.
  3. This moves to a hub and spoke model as expertise is spread widely through the organisation.
  4. Businesses might then get a multiple hub and spoke model.
  5. And in the final stage digital skills become fully integrated.

The presentation further investigates the evolution of team structures, including Amazon’s famous two-pizza teams.


Though digital technologies have been the driving force in changing how businesses work, all this tech is worthless if employees don’t have the requisite digital skills.

Marketers are redefining their relationship with technology, but the truth is that most are still feeling their way through it.

Among the research cited in the webinar is Econsultancy’s Skills of the Modern Marketer Report, which found that softer skills are actually seen as critical for digital marketers.

For example, the ability to embrace change, to spot opportunities and adapt strategies quickly were seen as being ‘very important’.

It’s clear from this, and from interviews included in the report, that adaptability, being self-motivated and continuously learning are considered as critical softer skills for today’s modern marketing environment.

How important would you say the following softer skills or behaviours are to being an effective marketer in the modern digital world?

Board buy-in

The webinar identifies four degrees of board buy-in, ranging from unconvinced through to full integrated.

The level to which boards accept the need for change can have a direct impact on the company’s future success.

Those that stand still won’t be in a position to react to changing market conditions in future and will see their competitors take the lead.

Insourcing vs. Outsourcing

Perkin discusses the issue of insourcing versus outsourcing, noting that there seems to be a trend towards the former.

In our report investigating the merits of each strategy, almost half (45%) of respondents said that they plan to bring more digital skills in-house in the next year, while 32% planned to do more outsourcing.

Which areas of requirement for digital resourcing / upskilling do you anticipate will grow most over the coming year? 

Agility and innovation

The final section looks at agility and innovation in some detail, including a digital maturity model, the definition of a digital culture, key elements of change and different approaches to agility.

For example, Perkin discusses the 70-20-10 approach to innovation, which is applicable across all business sectors.

It suggests that 70% of resources should be dedicated to core products and working practices, 20% on newer projects that are proven to deliver a positive business outcome, and 10% should go on testing totally new ideas.

In this way businesses are able to remain agile, continually evolve, and tap into new sources of revenue.

Download the Context of Digital Transformation presentation for more insights on all these topics.