According to Forbes, 84% of digital transformation projects fail.
Yep. You read that right. 84%.
That’s a pretty scary number. Especially when you consider that in 2018, the vast majority of Enterprise decision-makers (85%) believed they had two years to adopt a digital-first strategy before they fell behind the competition.
So 85% of decision-makers believe digital transformation is essential by 2020—yet 84% that attempt it fail. Why is that? What’s happening behind the scenes that’s causing digital transformation projects to go off the rails?
And how can marketers set themselves up for success?
After over a decade in digital marketing, working with companies like ExactTarget, Salesforce, and Lytics and watching the behind-the-scenes workings of companies as they implement new technologies, I have a few ideas.
Identify your goals up front.
The more you know about where you’re going, the better you can plan for getting there.
As Vikas Jain, Head of Strategic Alliances at Google, explained on a recent MarTech panel: “Technology is a means to an end…Once you define what it is you want customers to get from your products, then you work backwards to figure out how to get there.”
The more you know about your goals before you choose the technology to support them, the more you’ll set yourself up for success. So start early and ask the big questions.
What are your goals and KPIs? Are you focused on email? Web? Digital ads? All of the above? Is upselling a key part of your strategy? What about cross-selling? What are the measurable results you’ll be tracking? How will you track them? Do you have the creative resources you need? Do you have the content? What about ad budget? And how does the technology you’re looking at fit into your goals?
Get the right people in the room.
In the world of digital marketing, we talk a lot about silos. Break down the silos! Avoid the silos! Are your teams siloed? Is your data siloed?
Silos are a big concern—and with good reason. When teams don’t (or can’t) communicate, share data, and align strategically, it impacts real business goals and outcomes.
After all, how can we personalize marketing messages across channels when the email team and social media team don’t have the same data? How can we seamlessly implement new technology if half our business doesn’t understand how or why to use it? How can we execute on our marketing strategies if people who are key parts of that strategy feel they never had a chance to weigh in?
The key here is that if you’re starting a digital transformation or implementing a new technology, you need to get the right people in the room—early and often.
And the right people aren’t just the company’s decision-makers. They’re also the people involved in using your new tools day-to-day. Your app manager. Your email marketing manager. Your website manager.
They need to be involved. They need to know what you’re planning, why it matters to the business at large, and how it’ll impact them specifically. Leaving people to figure it out on their own once all the decisions have already been made is a recipe for delays, confusion, and resentment between teams.
Get them in the room as early as you can.
Make a list of people you want to involve, and involve them early. Bring them in for your kick-off meeting. Ask them to contribute to your use cases. Use their expertise to troubleshoot potential problems before they happen. Give them an opportunity to get excited about the technical changes that are coming. Give them an opportunity to understand the big picture instead of having inexplicable new tasks thrust upon them at the last minute.
Keep the lines of communication open.
Every new technology has a learning curve and the fast pace of digital change means that strategy, tactics, and how tech can best support a business is always evolving.
Digital transformation and implementing the latest tools aren’t one-time projects. They are ongoing.
Which means the conversations, development of use cases and best practices, and education need to be ongoing too.
Here at Lytics, we’ve seen a lot of success with a “center of excellence” approach where companies create a board or team devoted to overseeing the strategy and data that flows down into every other team. They’re responsible for keeping lines of communication open, managing data, and working closely with each team to make sure they have the data, tools, and strategic understanding they need at every touchpoint along the road to execution.
What success looks like
One Lytics client—a major fast food chain—came to us with the goal of driving more traffic to their restaurants for breakfast.
They identified their goals up front—to get more people into the restaurants for breakfast—and spent some time thinking tactically about that goal. They realized that there were two core audiences they could reach and both were very different. One already knew about their breakfast and needed to be reminded or encouraged. The other didn’t know they served breakfast.
As they got clear on their goals and audiences, they also started folding people into the conversation.
To target breakfast-eaters, they needed the data to know who those breakfast-eaters were. Enter the data science team. To build the email campaigns that will reach those breakfast-eaters, they needed the email guy. To keep true to their overall vision, they needed the marketer with the vision. And to track their success, they needed the analytics team.
And so the goals—the overall strategy—and the path to achieve those goals made it clear who needed to be involved. The brand involved those teams as early as possible in the process. And the project was a success.
Implementing a new technology? Here’s a to do list for you.
About to undertake your own digital transformation (or just a piece of it)? Here’s the checklist I’d use to make sure you’ve set yourself up for success from the start:
Identify which teams will be impacted by your new technology.
This is particularly important for teams that aren’t under your purview. Just because you don’t usually work with the CRM team doesn’t mean this new technology won’t impact them and need their buy-in.
Outline your rationale.
Why are you implementing this new tech? What problems will it solve? What opportunities will it surface? Why does it matter to the business?
Outline the impact.
What teams will the technology impact and how? What do you need from them? What are the steps going to be as you get the new tech up and running—and what are the steps going to look like moving forward?
Get everyone in the room.
Explain everything. Get the buy-in you need. Gather input that will help you identify any process trouble spots up front.
Centralize your strategy and data.
Make sure you have a team or board specifically responsible for managing the strategy and data and communicating across teams.
It’s time for a digital transformation.
If you’re reading this, we’re guessing digital-first strategy and CDPs are on your company’s radar—and we’d love to talk to you more about how Lytics can transform your business and help you meet the goals we’ve encouraged you to identify above.
Interested in a demo or have a question? Reach out to our team today.