Being among the best in your industry in digital has been shown by a Capgemini Consulting/MIT report to significantly boost profits.
So how do you get there? According to Didier Bonnet, Capgemini Consulting's Global Practice manager, it's not the common narrative, that young, tech savvy leaders promote technology from the bottom up.
"We were expecting to have a transformation that was really happening from the bottom up," Bonnet says, "the kind of classic stories about how these new, young guys are bringing new technologies that would result in seeing significant change. ...For 100 percent of the companies we've seen that have changed effectively, none of them were bottom, up all of them were top down."
We asked Bonnet how the most successful leaders made the transformation, here are five of his tips.
1. Make sure potential investments are digital first
"It's this notion from the leadership side of relentlessly driving a digital message, I mean there are companies saying that for any investment proposals, digital first should be the message. So, what is your digital answer first, and then we'll look at other options. These guys are pushing the organization, signaling to the organization that you want to move to that world is a very important differentiator.
The most successful leaders send a powerful message by the way they act and evaluate ideas. By treating digital as the preferred strategy, they make sure it's a part of every decision.
2. It can't be an isolated experiment
"Governance was probably one of the biggest drivers of performance, and the reason was that there are a vast number of companies that are investing great amounts of money in experiments all over their organization, different brands, different retail outlets, but are really wasting a lot of this investment by not leveraging it across countries or brands or business units.
Those governance mechanisms could be committees, single organizations, joint ventures between marketing and IT, and what they're allowed to to is take one investment and leverage it across the silos. That's where we really saw the benefit kicking in, and that's where I think they're more profitable because they were able to really drive their investments and leverage best practices quickly across their organization."
When these efforts get isolated, they lose steam and are much less effective. Leaders that succeeded changed their organizations to make sure that it was actually a digital transformation, not an experiment.
3. Focus on your best attributes
"What the few successful people told us is "I focused on the customer experience because this was the area where I had excellent people, and people that were really on the digital journey already." So trying to match your starting point and to some extent your learning along the digital journey with the skill set you have, and therefore understanding what you need to build next was a very big differentiator."
Burberry and Caesars are great examples of this trend. They focused on the customer experience and the huge amount of data produced by visitors respectively, and used those insights to make the digital strategy across their whole organization better.
4. Use your IT people, don't fight them
"Many times, phase one executives were saying "my is too slow, it's too expensive, it never delivers what I really want, blah blah blah blah blah, so I'm going to do this despite my IT, I'm going to go allow my marketing guys and my HR guys to go directly to vendors and try to get the application and the change made directly."
That was probably not the case with the leaders. A lot of times we found extremely good business/IT relationships in those companies whereas in some of the laggards, there was still a little bit of warfare between IT and the business.
The notion of doing nine month projects or two year projects on a big IT system before you see any business change is not the world we live in for digital. They were able to create the skill set and the behavior in their IT folks so that they could actually work with the digital marketing folks and actually deliver solutions quickly, or at least in a time frame that the marketing people were comfortable with."
The most successful companies don't let IT hangups stop them, they change that department as much as every other part of their business.
5. Stop if its not working
"It is a transformation and therefore requires an investment and that requires monitoring, and we found that leaders were really not doing that randomly, they were really monitoring to some extent iterating their transformations through digital stop-guard, metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that were driven by real business benefits."
Digital technology for its own sake isn't worth anything. Leaders who succeeded focused intently on the real business benefits, seriously measured them, and were prepared to cut their losses on programs that weren't working.
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