There are two things many marketers and their organizations now realize about digital transformation: it’s a long road — and it’s a necessary one. 

During a CMSWire webinar with Falcon-Software, Guy Schneider, vice president of sales in North America at e-Spirit, stressed that digital transformation is not just a marketing initiative or an IT mandate. "It’s about businesses integrating people, processes and platforms they’ve previously invested in. And now, they’re finally at a point where they’re bringing them all together. It’s necessary for business survival nowadays,” he said.

Starts at the Top

In fact, often it’s directly the C-Suite championing digital transformation efforts, according to results from a survey of 200 businesses e-Spirit conducted last year. E-Spirit shared the results of that survey in the CMSWire webinar, “The Long Road to Digital Transformation.” 

“C-level executives are clearly the leaders driving digital transformation,” said Schneider. 

The e-Spirit survey found 27 percent of organizations with less than 1,000 employees have a CEO who is personally driving digital transformation efforts. Schneider said companies are seeing digital transformation through a broad lens rather than one department.

Leverage Investments

Heather MacFayden, vice president of production and senior WCM analyst for Falcon-Software, said organizations have long had enough platforms to solve problems in silos. But now, with the mandate of digital experience execution, those organizations need to leverage their entire technology stack — alongside their people and processes.

“Companies no longer just see what’s possible. They’re trying to leverage the investments they’ve made in people, processes and technology,” MacFayden said. “They want to know how to use those investments and stitch them together.” 

Their platforms — from web content management to digital asset management and CRM — must have strong interoperability in order to connect with customers and meet their needs in multiple channels to “build one, solid business platform.”

At the same time, organizations are being asked to be agile and “evolve with the demands of the customer.” Your applications, MacFayden said, can double or triple over time, so organizations must be flexible.

Be Strategic

Companies dig themselves in deep digital transformation holes when they fail to have a strategy, MacFayden said. They fail to plan and understand their goals before diving into technology missions.

“We’ve brought in a new CMS — now what do we do?” MacFayden said. “They haven’t done their due diligence up front. They have to know what they want to achieve.”

Oftentimes, MacFayden pointed out, technology’s inherited. New teams have to learn about existing technologies or ones inherited through acquisitions. The bottom line: with all the new technologies, the goal must remain the same: push relevant content in front of customers.

“You have to cleanse your content, normalize it and figure out what content is still relevant,” MacFayden said. “What legacy content am I going to migrate? What’s keeping the customer experience relevant is the content that’s being pushed in front of them. There is no easy button here. You have to put in the time and make sure what you’re putting forward is accurate.”

Understanding the Lifecycle

screenshot of digital transformation webinar screen e-spirit and cmswire

Schneider referred to the digital transformation definition from Altimeter Group

“The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.”

The good news? Schneider said in e-Spirit’s survey on digital transformation 88 percent have a digital transformation effort underway in their organization.

“This is not just a passing fad,” Schneider said. “It’s a long-term effort to fully embrace digital and to become better as an organization.”

But, as MacFayden said, it’s not easy. More than 50 percent in e-Spirit’s survey said they have eight customer-facing applications. 

“Delivering a consistent experience to customers is a pretty complex undertaking,” Schneider said. “Organizations have more systems, more databases and more channels. Eight systems may not seem too complex on the surface, but it’s more important to consider how many possible interoperable connections those systems represent.”

Title image "The blue hour" (CC BY 2.0) by MaRiNa