We all have different views on digital transformation. What is it? Who owns it? How is it driven? What benefits can it realise, and when? However we might answer these questions, there’s one thing I’m absolutely certain of – digital transformation is essential to closing the chasm between customers’ expectations and marketers’ ability to deliver. But not only for the reasons you might expect.
Why is marketing lagging behind?
Let’s start with the most obvious achievement gap. Digitally-native experiences (seamless, contextual and omni-channel) are fast becoming the norm, meaning that this chasm is growing bigger, not smaller. With over 5000 technologies and oceans of data at their fingertips, most marketers are still working in old-school channel silos. Caught like a deer in headlights, change has come on fast for marketing organisations, and most can sense and respond to customer needs about as quickly as a Brexit negotiator. Clearly this is a problem.
Businesses are taking on digital transformation initiatives to change their ways of working, taking lessons from the software world to instil agility throughout their organisations – driving continuous iterations on strategy, design, delivery, and integration. Yet the marketing side seems to be determined to be the last bastion of the empire.
While I have seen some heroic efforts with zero-based budgeting, agile marketing experiments, data and tech deployments, it can feel like too little, too late. Fortunately this isn’t actually the case, but CMOs do need to act quickly to evolve a more agile, less siloed marketing capability that can much better exploit technology, data, and new ways of working.
Achieving success with MarTech
Marketers only realise value from 15% of their marketing technology, according to Mayur Gupta, who goes on to highlight the real opportunity for marketing to transform into a higher-performing commercial driver. In discussing the “missing” 85%, Gupta details a solution consisting of 7 building blocks of the always-on marketing machine – with technology being just one of those blocks.
The real enablers allow marketers to break down channel silos, plan and target better, automate and execute contextual content through the right channels, and work as an agile marketing organisation. This agility is achieved through small, multi-skilled, multi-disciplinary teams tasked with driving transformative journey growth through rapid test-and-learn experimentation.
We call this marketing fitness – more specifically MarTech fitness – as it is fundamentally driven by marketers’ ability to leverage the right-fit technology, small micro-moment data, and an operating model fit for their particular organisation.
Why operations is the missing link
Now, think of technology as the final piece that completes the puzzle. Why? Because transformation isn’t one-size-fits-all. Legacy, culture, skills, and personalities all dictate that. To enable higher velocity growth hacking under adjusted governance, there is no absolute template, no best practice (more like emergent practice) and agile frameworks to achieve that. But we must start somewhere.
So let’s look at the bigger picture. In his latest edition of “The Stackies,” Scott Brinker points out that fitness has as much to do with operations as it does with technology. Putting fitness in the context of maturity helps in creating a “North Star” vision for customer and marketer experiences. It’s vital to first assess where the marketing organisation is in terms of delivering that experience, and their immediate capability to deliver (tech, data, operations). The next step is to map that current state against where it needs to be, and then assess what that means for organizing everything – from technology and data, to skill mixing to operating models – so we can rapidly mobilise a portfolio of prioritised change.
Marketing fitness – more than a buzzword
Now that we know why technology is only part of the solution, remembering the concept of “marketing fitness” can help organisations prioritise the aspects of digital transformation that often get overlooked.
So he next time you think that MarTech will be your silver bullet, consider whether your organisation is “fit” enough to realise the true value of the investment. Transform your operations, capability and agility, and then think about technology.