Why Marketing Should Lead Your Digital Transformation

We are living in a digital world. As a famous fictional alien group powered by technology might say: “Resistance is futile!” Like it or not, technology will continue to be an increasingly important aspect of running a modern business. The business leaders of today must embrace digital transformation if they’re going to stay competitive and make the most of the opportunities available to them.

But what exactly is digital transformation, and who should be responsible for taking charge of it in your company?

Quick Takeaways:

  • Digital transformation is key to optimizing the customer experience for businesses today.
  • Technology is a key part of digital transformation but not the only part. Real transformation means a culture shift, and it needs to come from the top.
  • Your marketing team is best placed to understand the customer journey and the opportunities that come with going digital, and so your marketing department, led by your CMO, should be in charge of your overall transformation.

What Is Digital Transformation?

In its most basic terms, digital transformation is the process an organization goes through when it integrates digital technologies into its normal business processes.

The process of digital transformation looks different in every company, but in all cases, it means moving from analog to digital processes in order to operate more effectively and to serve their customers better. 80% of executives who have implemented digital transformation technologies say they are able to deliver better products and improved value.

Image source: Digital transformation doesn’t just mean upgrading your legacy paper record system to a modern database, or “moving to the cloud” (although it may include both of these things.) Successful digital transformation demands a fundamental change in corporate culture, requiring employees at all levels to change their mindset. 87% of companies believe that digital will disrupt their industry, and 44% say they are ready to deal with those disruptions.

Businesses that have embraced digital transformation are more comfortable with risk and change, keen to abandon old, inefficient processes (even if they worked well in the past), and seek out new opportunities in order to grow and thrive.

Digital Transformation Isn’t Just About Technology

If your immediate thought is: “Technology? That’s a job to give to the IT department,” it’s time to shift your way of thinking.

Remember – digital transformation is not a superficial change. It’s not a case of simply installing some new software and being done with it. Real transformation means a fundamental change in how you do business, and this means that C-suite support is vital.

Getting buy-in from the director level is important for leading any transformation program, but what about the nuts and bolts of incorporating technology into your business on a practical level. Surely that’s the job of your IT support staff, right?

While it’s certainly true that your IT team will have a huge part to play in the overall success or failure of your digital transformation strategy, they shouldn’t have sole responsibility for choosing software solutions and re-working processes. It’s important to keep in mind that the ultimate aim of going digital for most businesses is to improve customer experiences.

Your employees who are experts in digital technology are most likely not experts in customer experiences. So don’t make the mistake of putting them in charge of these critical business decisions.

Why Marketers Should Drive Digital Transformation

So who does understand the customer journey in your company? For most businesses, the obvious answer to this is the marketing department. However, research shows that currently, CMOs are less likely to be involved in digital transformation than other members of the C-suite.

Image source: If your current digital transformation committee looks more like the above data, it may be time to shake up your strategy, and here’s why:

All business leaders know and understand that simply having a great product or offering valuable services isn’t enough. To achieve business success, you also need a comprehensive marketing strategy to raise awareness of your brand and product, engage with potential customers, and nurture relationships with your existing customers.

Marketers are no stranger to digital disruption. Advances in digital technology have transformed the world of marketing, perhaps more than any other industry.

In the span of a single generation, marketing has totally transformed from direct mail, print ads, and radio and television advertising to online content, email marketing, PPC, SEO, and a whole host of other brand new technologies and techniques that simply didn’t exist a few decades ago.

Most marketers didn’t see this brave new world of digital as a threat, but rather as a game-changer. The digital age has opened up countless doors and new opportunities when it comes to understanding your customers and crafting marketing messages to engage them.

And this evolutionary shift is not over yet. The digital world is rapidly changing, and your marketing department knows they have to respond quickly to these changes if they’re going to succeed.

Successful marketing teams have learned they need to take an integrated approach and plan their activities around the customer, not their internal processes. This means no more “website team” or “email team” or “social media team,” but rather a multi-disciplinary approach planned to get the most out of multi-channel marketing.

In digital transformation, this breaking down of silos must be expanded out to the whole organization. Marketing becomes an important part of every employee’s role, whether they’re positioned in the sales department, HR, or customer service.

Technology is not the final solution to achieving transformation, but only a tool to help you get there. By embracing digital methodologies, business models and opportunities, you can put your customers at the heart of your business transformation and let marketing lead the way.

When you’re re-working key business processes, it’s easy to be led by factors such as efficiency and cost savings, but don’t lose sight of the fact that your end goal is to provide the best possible customer service. Only by using marketing’s valuable insights, data, and commitment to innovation can you really achieve this.

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