When the C-suite of digital movers and shakers representing 20 leading companies wanted to discuss "digital transformation," they didn't log on to a webinar.
Instead, they assembled at San Francisco’s posh Clift Hotel, in mid-June, to press the flesh, eat breakfast, share their digital visions, and hear insights from an engineer-turned-award-winning author.
Dr. George Westerman was the keynote speaker to senior executives who gathered at an exclusive executive roundtable hosted by Christopher Parkin, Adobe’s head of industry strategy and marketing. (Note: Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company.)
Parkin told attendees that they’re at the leading edge of digital transformation for their millions of customers globally. He then introduced Dr. Westerman, a research scientist at the MIT Sloan Institute on the Digital Economy, who has been called "the father of digital transformation" and recently co-authored his third book, “Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation.”
Westerman opened by saying that he gets calls from companies all over the world who universally want to know what the digital masters are doing right. He asked the executives around the table what they thought their level of digital mastery was and where they might fall into the digital and leadership capabilities of these four groups:
• Fashionistas: These digital teams look great and have many advanced digital features in silos, but no overarching vision. Though they’ve underdeveloped coordination of all of their digital assets, they have trouble managing their digital culture.
• Beginners: Because they have an immature digital culture, they’re learning on the job through trial and error. Their management is skeptical of the business value of their companies’ advanced digital technologies.
• Digital Masters: They have a strong overarching digital vision, excellent governance across silos, and a strong digital culture. They can juggle many digital initiatives to generate measurable business value and outperform peers.
• Conservatives: They have an overarching digital vision, but may be underdeveloped. They have few advanced digital features, strong digital governance across silos, and take active steps to build digital skills and culture. They can squeeze out more profit though revenues may suffer.
Digital Masters Are Not Necessarily Digital Companies
Westerman offered a handful of fascinating case studies about companies that have become digital masters but are not necessarily known as digital companies.
• Nike has an innovation garage in its Beaverton, Ore., headquarters, which lets its digital marketing team think like Apple and HP, both launched in Silicon Valley garages. Its Nike Sports App tracks what songs users play when they jog in Central Park or San Francisco’s hills, so that synergy will influence the music in Nike’s upcoming TV commercials.
• Asian Paints started selling paint and paintbrushes in 17 regional offices throughout India. Over the course of 10 years, it used an ERP system, a call center, big data analytics, automation in their factories, and decided to ship directly to customers, not stores. Today, the company is even selling kitchen renovations as one of its more recent digital-based services.
• Burberry shifted from focusing on a "ladies who lunch" audience to high-net-worth Millennial consumers in emerging markets who thrive on a digital-rich experience vs. traditional fashion consumers. When Burberry shifted away from traditional media to digital media, its digital transformation became a reality.
• Caesars Entertainment cultivates high-roller customers who can spend $50,000 or more during a trip to one of its worldwide casinos. That’s why Caesars now offers a mobile-optimized website, text press for check-in, the option of a mobile concierge, location-based coupons, and more to keep its customers in its casinos and coming back time and again.
What’s Working, What’s Not Working
To truly digitally transform your customer experience, Westerman explained, you have to be customer-focused from the outside-in. You must digitally increase your reach and engagement with a smart investment. You should also be scientific to personalize your target customer and gain experience through analytics of your digital program. And you must understand that there is no omnichannel. To that end, everything is digital with one customer-enriched experience.
Finally, Westerman called for all digital marketers to challenge their business models before someone else does and becomes the next Apple, Nike, Airbnb, or Netflix.
He asked that you engage your customers to make your digital vision a reality, connect your organization, create a wider conversation, and foster new ways of working together. In the end, if you rethink your possibilities, you can create a transformative vision of your digital vision.