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.