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MarTech Education: Brian Solis Believes Your Digital Transformation Needs the Structure of a Clear Strategy

by Noreen Seebacher, MarTech Education

You don’t have to look far to find statistics on the sorry state of digital transformation.

According to new data from San-Francisco based Altimeter, a Prophet company, many senior leaders continue to flaunt their commitment to buzzword-worthy concepts like disruption and innovation while doing little to effect change.

Digital Transformation Still Aspirational

For its third State of Digital Transformation Report (registration required), the research advisory firm surveyed 528 digital transformation executives and digital strategists to understand their current challenges and opportunities.

The findings are not especially surprising — but they aren’t pretty either. As Brian Solis, lead author of the report and principal analyst with Altimeter, explains, digital transformation is a high-level goal in search of a strategy.

The research found many companies are still struggling with technological and human challenges of digital transformation. They tend to embrace the concept in fits and starts, making reactive, siloed attempts at change because they lack a clearly defined vision of where they want to go.

‘Politics, Egos, Fear’

It’s hard to change the status quo.

“Digital transformation is progressing slowly and not yet penetrating deep within organizations to change corporate DNA from a legacy-based to a more agile approach.

“The workforce is not yet versed in the ways digital-device use is changing customers’ and employees’ preferences and behaviors. Investments remain very limited and short-term in focus. Corporate culture is largely risk-averse and not yet empowering new thinking and pursuits,” Solis writes.

What’s more, “politics, egos, and fear” continue to block “the collaboration and solidarity needed within companies to make the changes digital consumers want,” he continues.

Customer Journey Issues

The research illuminates the need to embrace digital transformation within the context of a clear strategy. But many companies skip this essential first step, planning roadmaps and making investments with incomplete information about the customer. This year’s findings show that only 34.8 percent of businesses have fully mapped the customer journey within the last year, down from 54 percent last year.

Chris Spears, Chief Marketing Technology Officer at Arke, is a strong proponent of starting all digital transformation effort with a well-reasoned brand experience strategy.

Atlanta-based Arke is a brand experience consultancy specializing in strategic implementations of marketing technology solutions. The company helps its clients create successful digital transformations.

Take Strategic Approach

Businesses that work strategically and make customer-centricity a priority will outperform their competitors, he explained. This strategic approach enables companies to more effectively leverage their technology investments and create more compelling and frictionless brand experiences.

Brand experience tracks and maps both online and offline interactions. It considers a person’s interactions with your brand as well your competitors. And it focuses on a bigger vision of the overall impact your brand has on the people associated with it.

In addition, brand experience extends beyond the awareness and acquisition journey. It also encompasses the sales journey, the product/service usage journey (support), and, lastly, the loyalty/advocacy journey.

Expand the Focus Beyond Customers

Solis agrees that it’s time to take a broad, holistic approach to digital transformation.

‘While customer experience is often cited as a focal point for initial digital transformation, the same digital factors affecting customers also influence employees,” he wrote.

This year, Solis updated his survey to track the growing importance of employees in digital transformation. “In 2017 “employee behaviors and preferences” shares the top spot as a primary factor driving digital transformation. We expect employee engagement and experience (EX) to grow in importance in 2018 and 2019,” he noted.

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