Your CEO has handed down a mandate: improve the customer experience. She says it will be your most important competitive advantage.  

And you will get there through digital transformation, the foundation of which includes building out your digital experience or MarTech stack.  

To succeed, you will need buy-in from across the company: from sales and marketing, to service, operations and finance. Everyone plays a part and everyone is a potential roadblock.  

Procurement in particular plays a key role in the process, so let's look at the steps you can take to win them over from the start. After all, no one wants to battle procurement — they always win.

What's Your Digital Transformation Objective?

Digital transformation involves a lot more than technology, bringing in equal parts programs and organizational readiness too. Without understanding how you want to use the technology and what you want it to do for you, it won’t work.  

No matter how well you build the systems and how brilliant the programs are, if your organization hasn't changed, if there's no consensus on the new roles and responsibilities and if everyone doesn’t have the tools, training and motivation to succeed, you might as well save your time and money.

The first step towards digital transformation isn’t buying software or getting massive budgets approved: It starts with planning. And planning requires defining the objective up front.  

Just like a good elevator pitch, the digital transformation team needs to be able to succinctly and effectively lay out the objectives and more importantly, the metrics to measure outcomes at every step of the way.  

In other words, you have to know where you want to go before you set off on the journey.

Once you know where you’re going, what you want to do and how you will measure success, you can move on to the next stage — establishing where you are right now.  

Use the KPIs you’ve developed to create a baseline analysis. That way you can measure your progress at every step of the journey and report on quantifiable metrics that the entire organization can accept and respect.

How Will You Get There?

With a clear destination in mind, you're ready to create a plan and a roadmap of how to get there. Whether you believe in the certainty of waterfall or the flexibility of agile, you need to map out your plan, step by step, documenting all the people, process and technology aspects of each stage and the milestones associated with each sprint.

From a MarTech stack perspective, your vision should include an integrated enterprise marketing platform centered around three core concepts: data, content and experience. As a baseline, you need to evaluate which of the component systems you already have, which you need to purchase and which you should consider upgrading.

Learning Opportunities

In general, prioritization becomes fairly clear. 

If your data is fragmented all over the company, you’ll never get a handle on who your customers are or be able to create actionable segments. No matter how well you understand your customers, if your content isn't relevant to them, they won’t engage. And if you can’t deliver the experience at the right time, to the right person, via the right channel and on the right device, all your brilliance will be wasted.

There's 10 Ways to Shoot the Rapids

Spend the time to build and prioritize the right roadmap and then and only then are you ready to select the right technology.  

A word of caution here: it won’t be cheap, it won’t be easy and it won't be fast. 

Prepare for tough battles at every stage of the process. But if you have a strong data-driven plan and roadmap with you, you will have won half the battles before you go into them.

Vendor selection becomes so much easier with a completed plan. Not only will you know what you want and need, but you will know when you need it and how any given system or software fits into the larger picture.  

Once you’ve made your selection, you have a very strong case to present to procurement. Tell them what you’re trying to accomplish, how you will measure success, what the ROI and payback time will be and how each purchase fits into the larger picture — this makes their jobs a lot easier — and that’s the key to getting procurement on your side. They don’t want to be a roadblock, they just want the information needed to do their jobs.

The final piece of advice? don’t go it alone. This probably is the first time your company is going down the road to digital transformation. If it isn’t, and you’re starting afresh, don't repeat a failed process. Seek out experience.  

It reminds me of the old line about whitewater rafting: there’s 10 ways to shoot the rapids, too bad eight of them will get you killed. Find a partner that’s done it before who knows the right path.

Title image "Pitching" (CC BY 2.0) by  DFectuoso 

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