January 6, 2015
A 2015 To-Do List for Digital Transformation
by Amy Radin
The pace is torrid, and the pressure is on to increase impact. Eight tasks, such as modernizing your key metrics, will let you build momentum.
The new year already feels well under way. The pressure is on to accelerate progress and increase business impact on all things digital. You’ve locked down the budget, and goals are in place. Now it’s time to reset the results meter and build momentum.
If one of your goals is to make digital matter more to employees, customers and shareholders, and you want to shake that feeling of being left out or left behind by the torrid pace of technological change, consider taking on these eight “to-do’s.”
- Expand your personal presence on social media. As a C-level executive, you carry the flag for your brand and for your company’s reputation. Your authentic and routine presence on social media will have high return on investment (ROI). Being part of the conversation has moved beyond “cool” or “nice-to-have.” It’s a must-do as part of your personal engagement with internal and external audiences. Your personal participation will also help you to internalize the profound impact the medium is having on everyone’s lives.
- Put mobile first. Feel you may be lagging on web-based development? The good news is you have the opportunity to leapfrog straight to a mobile-first user experience as you execute your digital road map. Invest in responsive design technology to align all screens to a consistent experience. Mobile devices are fast-becoming the “main screen” for an expanding range of purchases, transactions, inquiries and information sharing. If you don’t believe that, observe your own behavior, and you will surely be convinced.
- Recognize and reward team behaviors that foster innovation. It’s easy to pay lip service to the need for openness, diversity, transparency, creativity, exploration and collaboration and to be able to see failure as learning… all characteristics of an innovation culture. While you may not be able to project the bottom-line impact with anything approaching actuarial precision, increased digital effectiveness will be one of the payoffs of implementing a real plan that recognizes and rewards the people in your organization who live these attributes.
- Modernize your key metrics. The metrics that have worked really well to measure traditional financial drivers of traditional businesses may fall short in exposing the full impacts of digital. Dedicate the right analytics talent to set up a rigorous but flexible test-and-control framework that allows you to read accurately the cause-and-effect relationships of each digital enhancement. This is not about perfection; seek sufficient precision to reveal when it makes sense to scale your digital experiments, and to inform business cases for further investments.
- Discourage “cutting and pasting” digital solutions from the physical world. Your organization has been at digital long enough to know that picking up what worked in the physical world and dropping it online does not even qualify these days as “version 1.0” status. The unique properties of digital experiences and the different results they generate will only be within your reach when products, service delivery, sales and other core processes are re-imagined for digital, not brought to market as re-casts of potentially obsolete approaches.
- Align your executives’ goals and incentives to drive digital performance. We’ve moved well beyond a world where digital is the domain of IT, the marketing department or a digital head or any other functional or business silo. Digital is everywhere in your company and requires cross-everyone support to implement. Single points of accountability are powerful to get results. But the more significant the changes digital brings to your business, the more important it will be to create “skin in the game” across your team. Digital execution at the required speed will depend more and more on full team alignment to make it happen.
- If you don’t have a social media command center, this is the year to commit to having one. More and more Fortune 500 companies are implementing command centers. This enterprise-level capability aggregates information from listening, publishing, engagement, analytics and routing tools to enable a comprehensive view and appropriate action on defined topics through a holistic social media lens. This is essential to affect a brand’s social media presence and understand and manage reputation, customer and broader feedback in a borderless public square. Step one is to have a well-articulated social media strategy so that your team can deliver a pragmatic and action-oriented capability, not a “shiny toy” reflecting the latest fad.
- Leverage open sourcing. Expense pressure won’t abate, including the pressure to manage staffing levels. But it takes talented people to get things done. Expand your talent pool without adding headcount to include people potentially any place in the world willing and able to contribute ideas and answers to business challenges. Companies like Procter & Gamble and IBM pioneered global open-sourcing and co-creation initiatives years ago and have made them integral to how they conduct business. Your approach can be as small as a time-bound contest where you award a prize to graduate students for the best approach to formulating a new model, or a weekend hack-a-thon sponsored by your brand where you can engage outside developers to build apps for your business.