business planning

The Top 3 Reasons Why Digital Transformation is so Difficult

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  1. Finding a vision when you don’t have anything concrete to go to

Firstly, take comfort in the fact that no one knew where things were going with digital disruption and didn’t have a clear vision to begin with. We are in the age of “we’re figuring this out as we go.” The fundamental question everyone will be asking you and your organization is why. Why is your organization going to actually go ahead and take this leap into whatever the heck “digital” is for you – especially if you are not traditionally a technology business. For some organizations it is clear – you are losing market share and money to disrupters. For some organizations, it might not be so evident (I know this sounds crazy, and yes we have historical examples of epic fails that should be enough) but depending on the kind of business you are in, and how your business has evolved – it might not be so obvious.

So what should you do?

Knowing that there is empirical evidence of organizational downfalls and why this occurred is probably the first start. Why is this important? It’s because you have to do some outside in scanning and understand the core business reason that it happened. Just because it is not your business exactly, doesn’t mean that the underlying issue can’t impact you (ego reasons, culture reasons, investment – or non investment decisions etc.) If you haven’t done it yet, you should perform a SWOT and PESTLE analysis. Take a look at the weakness/threats your organization has and the external things happening in your industry, nationally or globally that will at some point have an impact on your organization.

Next you have to determine whether you want to take an offensive or defensive (or both) approach to your transformation. There are a few reasons that are pretty standard that underlay digital transformation if you don’t consider it an imminent threat or if you’re not losing money… yet. You can choose from the below, what you think might be the most important to your organization and its future:

  • Because the pace of technology change is quicker outside your organization than in
  • Because customers demand better user experiences and access on all different types of technology platforms
  • Because the world is going to be increasingly interconnected through technology
  • Because you need to think about your succession planning and talent attraction/retention

Maybe its one of the above or maybe it is all of the above. But take your SWOT/PESTLE and any of the above reasons, as well as whether you think you should be going offensive or defensive. You now have your “why” and some places you think you should be headed as an organization. You have a vision of where you want to go and you can create an action plan around it.

2. Business Model Generation

Now the truth is – and if you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times – digital transformation is business transformation. What does this actually mean?

  • It means how you invest your money will change, because you will need to bring in new talent, stand up new divisions and the biggest will be how you invest in your technology infrastructure and architecture to enable your organization.
  • It means how your budgets are planned and allocated will need to change. People get resistant to having smaller head counts or having less money to do what they want. It might even change how you do your accounting in the business.
  • It means processes are going to change. Areas that once owned a process, or where certain decisions happened will change. Often people translate this immediately too: job loss. But no. It just mostly likely means that roles get to change, or the ownership of certain aspects of the process are shifting.

You can choose a variety of models for digital: Decentralized, Centralized, Center’s of Excellence, Offsite (Labs, Mode 1/2). What you pick is really dependent on how your business operates and what you think will help you get early wins. What matters most is that best practices in change management are carried out, which include tons of communication and that processes, roles and responsibilities get ironed out to prevent conflict.

3. A willingness to admit that you may not have the right people at the table

Digital is one of these tricky things that didn’t happen with a school degree. Most digital professionals (myself included), didn’t have a digital degree option when we were in school – and had to go through the evolution of this industry in the school of hard knocks. You might (or might not) be surprised by this, but many digital professionals came from IT (development or product engineering) or marketing/communications – because digital really is the intersection of these functions.

There are numerous debates about whether Digital should be part of IT, or Marketing or on it’s own – but nonetheless it requires people who have real experience in delivery of digital products and experiences. More importantly it requires people at the decision making table with the experience to understand what the organization is being asked to do when it comes to becoming digitally enabled. It means having someone who is versed in digital who can inspire and excite, can see the future of where your organization could go digitally and who can ruffle feathers in a non-threatening way while pushing change in places with less resistance to drive the places with more resistance.

Why does this matter? Those who work in delivery know when someone does or doesn’t understand. You must have a leader that is able to talk to developers, engineers, UX pros, look at the analytics and understand what they are telling you. This is the difference between garnering real respect from your reports. Their belief in you as the beacon for organizational change rides on this respect.

It also requires someone who can speak to the rest of your business and build and nurture relationships for when the going gets tough (cause it’s gonna)! If you have someone at the table who can really understand the details of what is required to deliver digital transformation, it helps decision makers understand what they are getting into. Someone at the decision making table with these skills means the ability to create the endorsement, relationships and support needed to mobilize an organization to really make change.

Do you have the right skills in the right places with the right people to make your organizational evolution possible? It’s a tough call, and only you know what your organization needs – but it does mean you have to be willing to admit that you may not have what you need.

What are some of your lessons learned that you would be willing to share with other change agents?

5 steps to Social Media Readiness

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Photo credit: www.socialable.co.uk
Photo credit: http://www.socialable.co.uk

Ready… set… go…..

Buzz words are great – and in all aspects of business we hear them.  However, when working in the digital and communications space what does the term: “social media readiness” actually mean?  While it can vary by organization to organization, in a nutshell it means: how ready are you or your organization for engagement into the social media space.

In one of my former roles as a Marketing and Communications Manager,  I would hear almost every day directly from the CEO how we needed to use social media to promote their product.  Due to the company culture it was very much,  a “do it first and ask questions later” atmosphere.  The idea of marketing and the focus on being executional/tactical in nature first,  superseded the notion of ensuring that the company was ready to do it or that they actually understood what they were doing while doing it.  The largest mistake that any company can make in marketing and communications is to put the cart before the horse.  Once you put something out there, especially online – it is there.  Reflecting your company, your brand and your products.

This organization was not ready for social media.  They understood it in theory, and they definitely understood the execution – “Put a video on Youtube”, “Start a Facebook page”…. but had no long term strategy, or any idea what they should be doing with their social assets past that. So, how can you do a temperature check?  Here are 5 steps to take in finding out how ready your organization is for social media:

      1. Executive level buy in:  You definitely need to ensure that your leadership is in support of the idea.  Some might be, and some might not be – some may not understand it at all.  To erase some uneasiness it might require some education around social media products.  These can include business case studies with organizations that are similar in nature to yours – or if you are willing – using your own personal accounts to demonstrate how things can work positively.
      2. Educational tools:  Even if an organization understands the practice of using certain social media networks, you can create or provide tools that make things easy for them to digest and stay current. Hubspot provides a lot of great white papers and e-books that can be easily disseminated or referenced.  In my former roll as a Communications Coordinator for the Government, I actually created a social media dictionary to assist our senior management team in learning the lingo.
      3. Social Media Policies: OK – so naturally your leadership is going to have concerns around all the possible things that could go sideways if they enter into this space, from employees exposing secret info publicly to the public bashing them.  Work with them to create social media policies that they feel comfortable with; if possible check with your legal and HR teams to make sure everything is covered.  If all else fails – there are a ton of templates online.  Hey, we are in the age of sharing!
      4. Don’t scare your staff: Your biggest fans are right under your nose.  The people who live and breath your organization everyday.  Once you have buy in – don’t leave them out of the education process!  They can be your organizations biggest advocates and evangelists online.  Keep them in the loop and ensure that they understand your social media policies and procedures.  Give them some ownership and a voice and you will see how quickly things can become viral!
      5. Put pen to paper:  Plan!  Like any other communications or marketing initiative you must have a plan in place.  If you work for an organization that doesn’t see the importance of this run!  As the saying goes – fail to plan, plan to fail.  Except that you would be letting the organization fail publicly in a space that spreads information at rapid fire speed.  A social media plan should outline the networks most relevant to your organizations needs, how you intend on using them, content plans and schedules and how that integrates with your overall marketing plan.