By Matthew Stanton

5 Signs Your Business Needs Digital Transformation

By Jessica Schram, Analyst, Digital Transformation, Edelman

With the rise of digital over the last two decades, the demands on business leaders have become increasingly complex. Companies are focusing more attention on lean, data-driven decision making and brands are looking to Silicon Valley for insight into their ways of working, approach to customer experience, and techniques for strategic problem solving. This, in a nutshell, is what the industry is calling “digital transformation.” It involves digitizing information systems, creating agile and data-informed operations, and introducing new technology to enrich customer experience while improving the efficacy of marketing overall.

As companies grapple with this new reality, and try to find new ways of doing things, they will look to us to provide counsel in their efforts to be smarter, leaner, and more effective. Whether they call it “Digital Transformation” or not, the Digital Transformation team can assist in these efforts and help guide you through a wide range of marketing or communications issues. Our team pairs design thinking and analytical rigor to help leaders refocus their objectives and (in a nutshell) help them think and act more like digital-first disruptors. Here are 5 common questions you might hear:

1. We Need To Do More with Data. How Can we Learn Faster?

Companies looking to learn faster should take notes from companies like IBM who, despite being around for decades, became the first B2B company to take their marketing department completely agile. In layman’s terms, this means they went from working on projects for months at a time before putting anything out into the world to creating and deploying campaigns one piece at a time in quick sprints, then using data and customer feedback to adjust for the next iteration.

Although most people know of “agile” as a Project Management technique, when implemented as a way of conducting business — combined with advanced analytics and business intelligence — can be a useful means of saving time and money while learning faster and making better choices in the process.

2. We Need to See Bigger Results With Less Cash. How Can We Get More For Our Money?

Like Procter & Gamble’s famous decision to slash media budgets by a billion dollars, companies everywhere are spending less on marketing, yet expect their agency dollars to go further. If this sounds familiar to you, it may be time your team considers adopting techniques used to advise on digital transformation.

One such technique, similar to agile, is the concept of design thinking, which involves empathizing with users, defining a problem, then ideating and prototyping to test and learn before going to market in one big (expensive) push. Design thinking saves time and money by preventing too many resources from being put into any one initiative you’re not sure will even work. This may mean testing a campaign in one or two regions before taking it national, or rolling out a new product in a few flagship stores, collecting feedback, then making adjustments before it ships to the enterprise.

The old saying “time is money” is real, and should also be considered here. Anywhere digital technology can help automate processes or alleviate menial human tasks means more time (and human capital) that can be used for productive, proactive efforts. More to come on this in question 4.

3. How Can We Create a Seamless Customer Experience?

Customer experience (or CX) issues typically arise from a combination of disjointed teams, processes, or technologies driving what ideally should be one cohesive brand experience for the customer. Very likely, the leaders coming to you with this request represent one of the teams involved in this fragmented system, so it’s important to level set with them on what can be done to improve the experience in their specific touchpoint, as well as what may need to change within their larger CX ecosystem to achieve success.

It’s also important to note the wide range of new technologies companies are bringing to bear in this capacity, whether it’s behind-the-scenes experience integration software like SalesForce or Zendesk or front-facing integrations like chatbots, in-store innovations like Sephora’s color IQ scanner, or augmented reality apps and plugins like L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius or Houzz’s My Room 3D.

4. We’re Strapped For Resources. How Can AI Help Us Be More Efficient?

Despite the countless articles about “robots taking jobs,” companies that use AI effectively know this is far from the reality. The truth is, brands who use AI for staffing efficiencies (whether for community management, media management, task management, or analytics) are using it to help them do more with limited resources, not less.

Take, for example, the familiar concept of chatbots. Chatbots aren’t replacing community managers or customer support people, but they are adding opportunities for customers to talk to “someone” to get the help they need while decreasing the cue for real people to assist with more complex problems. Not only can this save support staff valuable time, but it can also improve employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and automate issues-tracking in the process.

5. What Do We Need To Do Now to Grow Our Business In The Future?

As heightened consumer demands, shifting workplace expectations, and smarter technology continue to alter the competitive landscape, transformation will become inevitable, and this question will continue to come up in conversation: the role of voice assistants, the need to build out eCommerce infrastructure or an “Amazon strategy,” the desire for enhanced CRM technology for better loyalty/retention, and the overall interest to work smarter, not harder, and make dollars go further will be critical to future-proofing your business needs.

The reality of today is such that if you’re not adapting, you’re falling behind. And if you take away anything from this article, take this: digital transformation is not a competency or service offering, it’s an outcome to purposeful problem solving, pragmatic ways of thinking and working, and digital-first approaches to transforming businesses from within.

About Edelman Digital

Edelman Digital is the digital advisory and integrated marketing arm of the world’s largest communications marketing firm. Our global staff, in over 65 offices worldwide, is built to manage the complexity of modern marketing and online reputation, using a data-driven social-first storytelling approach designed to deliver real-time business results. We believe in exploring future-forward technology to advance the stories we tell. The output of our work delivers experiences that transform culture, reputation and relationships to inspire real-world action between brands and consumers.

Interested in learning more about Edelman Digital’s digital transformation capabilities?