A company’s marketing digital transformation project benefits when Marketing is the internal client. As the voice of the customer, Marketers understand why we want to transform what we do and can make sure it is realized.
I know I’m using the shouldn’t word when it’s one of my rules to always question “should”s. I always say when you hear the word should it usually is a black and white statement. So question it because reality exists in the grey between. Yet, this time, my shouldn’t is a contrary statement that is calling out a prevailing should. It often owns the digital transformation project. Or, the IT team delegates it to outside management consultants.
First, let’s step back and first look at what is digital transformation. And what it is not.
Digital transformation is not digitalization
Digital transformation is about using digital technologies to re-imagine our business models, operational process, and customer experience.
It is not simply converting something we do now to a digital format or rolling out a new digital product. (Marketing teams have been doing that for a very long time already)
As an example. Rolling out an AI bot to do a 1st level support function is a digital transformation project. Answers are based on past interactions with other customers. The customer decides when they want to escalate the conversation to a real person. Rolling out a chat bot for people to engage with the existing 1st level support is really a digitalization of what you do today. Not a transformation.
Digital transformation can sometimes seem like an enterprise buzz word. It is also something SME companies do without naming always naming it as such. And for new companies or expanding companies it is often embracing a new initiative, not transforming something that has existing for years.
Marketers are the client on an internal digital transformation project
The biggest reason why I believe marketers need to have a key seat at the table in digital transformation projects is that in this instance marketing is the customer. (A seat that can feel unfamiliar). Marketing teams are the ones best positioned to guide the strategy of the project.
Added to that, as the voice of the customer, marketers are in the position to make certain this strategy aligns with what will benefit both the customer and the business.
I like to change my language a bit to distinguish these too types of customer by calling marketing the client and calling the end customer, well the customer. So I will switch to that for the rest of this post.
As the client, Marketing is best positioned to own the why we are doing it. While IT may be best positioned to own how. Both are needed for any digital transformation project to be successful.
How do you ensure a seat at the table
So how do Marketing leaders have a stronger voice at the table. Here are a few ideas.
Make one of your marketing OKRs be a digital transformation goal. Defining a near term objective around one of the three pillars – transforming the business model, transforming engaging with customers, transforming how we work. And be clear on how you will measure it successful.
Educate yourself on the possibilities of digital transformation. Listening to what other marketing teams have done – in your industries and in other industries. Sometimes we learn more by seeing how completely different industries tackle technology. Understand innovation is doing things differently, not just doing things more efficiently. Though that has it’s place too.
Get comfortable with your technology stack, not simply outsourcing it all to IT. Understand the power in what you use today. Understand the power of things you could use tomorrow. Knowing enough to feel comfortable rather than intimidated by it can go a long way to not being overwhelmed.
As any true client, you need to be fully engaged at the beginning and the end of each change iteration. Voicing why it should be done, the true intention. Leaving it to the IT teams to figure out how. Then being the final arbitrator that they have delivered successfully on the why.
A company’s digital transformation project benefits when Marketing is the internal client. Marketers are the voice of the customer in the company. They understand why we want to transform what we do. Marketers can clarify the objectives. And on behalf of the customer and the business, Marketers can best evaluate if transformation is realized.