A few years ago in the course of a master’s degree in business management I first heard the term digital transformation. The truth is that it did not catch my attention then, and as the idea has penetrated deeper into companies, I am more convinced that the “digital transformation” is a fever that can give you nightmares, but that you have to go through it soon, like the mumps.
Why do they call it a digital transformation if it should simply be “natural evolution”? Why do all companies have to go through it if some do not even use the computer in their processes? Why does it cost so much and why are we all so reluctant? Why does the dream become a nightmare?
We have some answers to these questions, not because we are wiser, but because we are older. We have probably only reached those answers because we have asked the questions before others. But, frankly, it’s not to our credit. We have not been gurus of anything, nor have we guessed the future to know years ago the trends that life in general and the forms of consumption in particular would take. We’re not smarter, but we got hungry first…
In a sector as volatile as marketing consulting, which is subject to so many variables and fluctuations in society’s confidence, any crisis can be fatal. In the one that began in 2008 many marketing and communication agencies began to fall like flies. Dozens of marketing departments were reduced to the minimum, when they did not disappear completely. Marketing was seen as an expense. And what happened in this professional debacle was that the here and now was looked at, but the consequences for the future were not measured. A change in consumption could be seen coming, but the speed, or the force of attraction to all other areas of life, was not calculated. We marketers have been talking for years about millennia and the danger of subsistence of the distribution channels, while technology allowed to have a direct bridge between the producer and the consumer. The fewer intermediaries, the more transparent the transaction, the cheaper the final price and the more direct the customer-producer relationship for a two-way listening.
It is in this environment that the online stores of many industries were born. Now it is no longer even the e-shops, but the market places. The big world and virtual shopping malls that bring together everything that can be bought and sold.
How does this affect businesses, which have to serve customers from anywhere in the world, in multi-language, multi-currency, which with small structures cannot afford much infrastructure or equipment. Digitizing is more than technology, it is a change of mentality, of processes, of professional skills. Digitizing allows to focus on the business (even see new opportunities) but above all, for what it has served us, is to have more vision, share knowledge better, eliminate time in recurring tasks and without value, democratize data.
I believe that in the era of “do it yourself” the difference between marketing consultants and communication agencies is precisely the amount of information we can handle and the people we can involve in the network. That is why sharing and transforming data into useful information is more than a tool, it is a necessity for survival.
In our experience, the 3 keys to tackle a digitalization project are :
- To have a committed team with a lot of intra-entrepreneurial spirit
- Be very clear that this doesn’t happen overnight… technology is fast to implement, but it takes people longer to change, so you have to be patient.
- Let’s approach projects by breaking them down, with a master plan a few years away, but with a clear who’s who of the next step.
Now the challenge is that our interest in digitizing everything, does not detract from our freshness, ability and improvisation, to memorize, to create… In short, without standardizing with the common tools, what we must do is put all our talent at the service of differentiation and offer a more than exquisite customer service.
By Beatriz De Andrés, CEO of Art Marketing