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4 Steps to Bring Your Company into the Digital Age

It’s no secret that management has a tough time changing their old ways, and the hardest sell is often your CEO.

Consider this: since 2000, more than half of Fortune 500 companies have either gone bankrupt, been acquired or gone out of business. Why?

Digital disruption is responsible for a large share. Now digital transformation is no longer a question of if but when and how.

In this digital age there are endless amounts of customer data and companies need to learn how to use it better. Starting with – “Listen to your customers!” I can not reinforce this enough.

When companies are slow to, or resist, implementing transformative change they ultimately miss the opportunity to accelerate ahead of the competition – and, as of right now, run the very real risk of lagging behind or being forgotten.

So how can you kick start digital transformation in your company? And sell your CEO on updating the company?

Based on the McKinsey report on Culture for a Digital Age we wrote the cliff notes to get your company up to date.

Step 1: Reducing your Risky Business

A companies reluctance to change is not due to a lack of resources; it’s risk-averse management. When something new is coming at you constantly, you need to adapt and innovate. It’s important to fail, to learn from those mistakes and get better at recovery. Continuous optimization requires testing multiple approaches at once, discarding the under performers and doubling down on what works. Companies can overcome risk by creating a culture where people feel comfortable to fail. They are encouraged to try and when, not if, they fall, to get up again. In turn, employees will become empowered to take risks and speak up. Start by finding mechanisms, whether digital, structural, or process, that help build a shared understanding of business priorities and why they matter. Change happens fast and from unpredictable places, and the more context

“I only hire weirdos, basically, and I just let them fail all the time. It just makes perfect sense to me.”

—Ben Chestnut, MailChimp CEO

By investing in your current employees and emboldening them to do work that matters to them, you foster a loyal and dynamic team. MailChimp is a great example of a company that provides a creative and open environment. It was identified via Glassdoor, that MailChimp employees would recommend the company to a friend, and 100% approve of the CEO.

“We provide an environment that allows for, and encourages, acting on spontaneous creativity.”

—Dan Kurzius, MailChimp co-founder

Once companies start disruptive thinking they will be quicker to resolve problems and drive improvements in customer satisfaction. Listening to customer feedback enhances the future interaction with customers, helps gain a better understanding of customers and will reduce a silos experimentation.

Step 2: Break Out of the Status Quo

It’s easy for employees to be consumed by day-to-day tasks and lose sight of the bigger picture of the company. It’s difficult to encourage them to break out of their organizational silos and think transformationally. Break-through the traditional ways of doing things and encourage a

collaborative culture that disrupts this mindset! Get employees to embrace risk, refocus on customers, start taking interest in other departments and rethinking how you do what you do.

A great example of a company that is making proactive changes to their operations is Nordstrom. In 2014, two key executives exchanged roles. Erik Nordstrom, former President, changed his role with the president of Nordstrom Direct, the company’s online store. Jamie Nordstrom, former president of Nordstrom Direct, became president of the brick-and-mortar stores. This type of rotation helps create a more consistent understanding between different business units regarding the company’s aspirations and capabilities, get to know a different team, and break through their traditional way of doing things.

Step 3: Get Everyone on the Same Page

Ask your employees what they believe to be your company’s Why, What and How. Why you do what you do? Hopefully, it’s not all just money driven. But, really diving into why you do what you do, and why that matters to your customer.

TopRight believes: You can’t have each employee, department or board member telling a different Story; you can’t have more than one Strategy to deliver that Story, and you need complete and total alignment of your organizational Systems to execute the Strategy. The required sequence: Story, Strategy, Systems…in that order.

Rediscover why you do what you do and most importantly why that matters to your customer and how you deliver that value to them. How it makes them the hero.

All of your marketing, all employee communications, all sales collateral, all enabling technologies, all of your people at every customer touchpoint must be fully aligned to bring your brand to life.

How do your people communicate your story, how do you want your customers to experience your brand and how do you specifically deliver value? This is often where companies and organizations struggle the most. Need to attract and keep employees, drive brand valuation and multiples, increase customer loyalty and growth – start with a simple, clear and aligned story.

 

Step 4: Measure Data-Driven Insights

The prevalence of online and digital enables marketers to completely personalize customer experiences. This amazing new world of always-on, always-connected will challenge marketing to deliver “real-time relevance” to their customers.

Transformative marketers will be entirely data-driven in their operations. From analyzing customer buying habits across devices to delivering authentic messaging and fully contextual offers in real-time, the IoT will drive customer experience innovation and create substantial organic growth opportunities for brands to capture.

Cultural changes within corporate institutions will always be slower and more complex than the new suggested technological changes. That’s the biggest challenge. It’s necessary to change this old-school culture to create a faster, ready for change type of mentality across an organization. Leaders won’t achieve the speed and agility they need unless they build organizational cultures that perform well across functions and business units, embrace risk, and focus obsessively on customers.

If you want to learn more about how your company can embrace digital transformation, learn from the leaders who disrupted their industries and went on to become major successes. Order my new book Marketing, Interrupted where I share some lessons on how transformational leaders tackled these challenges.

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