Recently, I finished reading Connect, and thought a lot about the evolution of digital, the control it has given consumers, how social networks connect them, and all the technology we now have to measure and optimize our reach as digital marketers.
It also prompted me to think about process and maturity. Our focus today is more outward – we are all trying to use more knowledge (data) in combination with business goals.
Ever since we started using web analytics in the mid-2000s, everyone has beed obsessed with looking at a lot of digital data. As a result, digital marketing as a way to boost business seems to have gained increased traction in the C-Suite lately. The downside to this, is that most companies are taking a very informal approach, in reaction to trends without a plan. Firms are spending money on new platforms, systems and tools, and ignoring the foundation for digital marketing; strategic planning with maturity in mind. Technology should be the last piece of the puzzle–there are three other areas that need to be addressed before thinking about tools:
Organizational Structure. How digital departments will be organized to best collaborate with other internal partners.
People. Do you have the people with the right skills? Managers included.
Process. How are you getting projects done? Are you still using job jackets? Are your procedures convoluted and getting in the middle of work? Are the fit for digital?
These may seem trivial, but companies–particularly old organizations–should take them extremely seriously. The investment should be in people, process, and then tools. This organic approach tends to be more effective, and prevents organizations from stacking tools on the shelf, because they don't have the people that know how to use them, or because they end up not meeting business needs.
Planning for digital helps companies build competitive advantages, and organizations need to start realizing that the only way to achieve digital maturity, is through rigorous planning, smart strategy, and investing in knowledge. Failure to do this signals a focus on short-term wins at the expense of long-term digital growth.
In reality, there is no finish line in digital marketing. Therefore, most companies will never achieve complete digital maturity. So, what really matters is the approach to digital; the ability to restructure teams around a clear goal, having the right people to leverage technology, and investing time and resources to optimize processes.