The age of digital maturity for every company?
I have been working in the digital world since a few years (actually 18 years, ouch!) and, when I look back, it is always interesting to see how the relationship between technology and marketing have evolved.
“My” digital revolution, from 1997 to today
I started working in the publishing sector in 1997 when, as a young intern then project manager, I was almost the only one to benefit from an Internet connection in the company. At that time, when I was talking with publishers, product managers or marketers about the online strategy to implement, few of them knew what it was, and even few could imagine how it would transform their lives. Things have changed a bit today…
Thus, it is interesting is to see that we have moved from a one-way push model to a bidirectional model in real time. What do I mean by that? In 1997–1998, the real digital challenge was about presence: to have its website, to build it according to its supposed audiences, and to measure its success through page views or, for those who were trying e‑commerce, through sales generated.
Today, the challenge is about being able to offer a contextualized and personalized response in real time, to engage directly with a prospect or client, regardless of the device.
18 years, it is ultimately the time it took to move from a model focused on the company to model focused on clients. 18 years (or slightly less) to stop to look at each other, and really take an interest in the one who made the effort to be interested in you…
Many companies, large and small, have however not yet reached this maturity stage: because they are organized in silos, because they do not take advantage from the tons of data they have available to better understand and anticipate the needs of their audiences, because they say, “it has always been working very well like this, so why change? ”
Reflections and recommendation on the digital maturity today
That’s why I would like to briefly share with you three lessons of these 18 years, thanks to hundreds of customers, and even more projects.
1. Digital is more about people and process than technology
This may seem surprising coming from someone working for a technology solutions provider, but this is the reality. It is necessary to first embrace from a marketing and human perspective what the digital transforms in the relationship with its audiences, before putting technology at the service of this new vision. It is always possible to find a technological solution, but if we don’t have, from the start, the right people in charge and the right processes in place, the result will be non-existent.
2. Focusing on customers, it is also (first?) focusing on its employees
Transforming the relationship with customers can’t be successful if we do not change the way we work: we must break the internal silos, which are the first obstacle to growth, but also train and support employees. It is essential to give them the right tools (Analytics, asset management, online publishing solutions, ability to automate the marketing and launch campaigns quickly, etc.) to enable them to create added value, and not simply execute. And it is also an internal communication process: our employees are often our first customers. With the right tools and the right approach, it creates pride, so it makes co-workers want to promote the business outside.
3. Executives and leaders must be the first promoters of digital
While the Internet and social networks seem to have abolished all notions of hierarchy and pyramidal organization, this is far from true in practice. The charismatic capital (to paraphrase Max Weber) remains fundamental: employees, regardless of their level within the company, need their execs to lead the way, especially for digital. Transforming a business to adapt to digital happens through actions, speeches, but also a strong commitment of the CEO and the key members of the Comex. If they themselves do not believe that this is the future of their business, how can they drive the changes and the necessary strategy? They must pave the way for the rest of the company.
And you, what do you think? Do you share my view? Do you think that many companies are still far from having reached the age of digital maturity? Let’s discuss, I’m interested to hear your views on this topic! I also want to recommend the reading of “Four Advantages of a Planned Approach to Digital Maturity,” a white paper Adobe published last July on a similar theme, that offers interesting food for thought.