If you are placing all your hopes for digital transformation into a ‘lab’, you are missing a huge opportunity to keep up with customers and their ever-evolving digital lifestyles and workplaces.

Instead, invest in making adapting to change part of your culture. Every marketer needs to challenge the status quo as part of their regular job. Sequestering innovation into a separate group may be great for ideation, but it will never actually transform your business.

Transformation requires the proverbial thousand points of light – every pair of hands, drawing new insights from data by asking different questions, and testing out new campaigns.

This year, engage every marketer in the work of keeping ahead of customer need, and taking advantage of the right set of new platforms and digital tools. Not just marketers, actually, but also everyone in all those cross-functional teams on whom we rely so heavily to create great customer experience – from sales to customer service to IT.

People power

This time of year, lots of columnists predict what the future will hold – including our own Chairman Ashley Friedlein who urges every marketing organization to adopt the “F” word (Focus). (Anyone who doubled down last year with advertising on Medium can attest to the worth of this advice. What seemed like an obvious opportunity based on traditional rules of business, just isn’t.)

Ashley also talks about the increasing attention on “marketing transformation”, which refers to the internal marketing organization transformation which complements the customer-journey focused digital transformation work that is already underway at so many Econsultancy clients.

Scott Brinker, author of the popular ChiefMarTec blog predicted that change is the only trend you need to watch in 2017.

People empowerment is just as important as the right technology, where he advises, “For people, you need to carve out time, resources, and executive enthusiasm for learning and experimentation. Having people take courses, attend conferences, join local meet-ups, and voraciously read (or listen to podcasts) is good. But the real learning happens when they’re encouraged to apply new ideas in their work, through silo-busting collaborations with their peers.”

No matter what your position on trend watching, there is one thing that is clear. Nothing will get done to meaningfully transform your business without people.

And not just any people. People who are skilled in modern marketing, working collaboratively across functions with shared goals, in an organization that is structured to help them and the company succeed. People are inextricable from culture, process and strategy.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that bottom-up ideas tend to be more practical and data-driven. Why not train your teams how to capture change and turn it into opportunity, while you give them the skills and tools they need to increase your digital marketing muscle?

Why not challenge marketers to talk to customers and solve their problems? Why not embrace change as a constant, and filter that “lab” mentality into every role? Really. Why not?

It’s a simple concept: Trust your teams to know their key audiences and to be committed to optimizing the customer experience. Help them master the concepts and foundational principles, show them what “good” looks like for your company, and teach them to how to evaluate new digital opportunities.

The learning programs and ecosystem that you create to support your teams have to be as agile and open to change as the software you use. In the golden triangle of people, process and technology, transformation will only occur as fast as the slowest leg of the triangle allows. Don’t isolate your people from their ability to innovate.

What are your thoughts on transformation and change management in 2017 for marketing? We’d love to hear your challenges and what has worked for you already.

If you’re planning a digital transformation project or want to find out more, visit Econsultancy’s Digital Transformation Hub.