Most digital transformation initiatives are neither quick nor successful, and a key factor to making one work is involving senior management at an early stage, a WARC Best Practice paper advises.

Global management consultancy The Observatory spent 2018 reviewing more than 100 detailed articles around digital transformation and conducting more than 30 interviews with senior marketers around the world.

“Despite hugely relevant consumer changes, all too often, there was limited involvement from marketing leaders at the early stages of a digital transformation initiative and very rarely a senior marketing owner involved,” report senior consultants Christine Downton and Ameet Chandarana.

“The bottom line is that success requires senior management involvement.” (For more read, the WARC Best Practice paper, Ten steps to successful digital transformation in a marketing organisation.)

That’s because it’s essential to have a clear vision of what the digital transformation is meant to do for the business.

So, transformation should link to the business strategy and not be carried out in isolation. “That strategy could be facilitating a move to service support in a highly commoditised mature sector or putting the customer at the start and the heart of the process in many sectors from FMCG to transportation to luxury, or cost efficiency in a declining sector.”

But whatever the reason, the transformation vision has to be articulated in a non-technical way; it has to be accessible and repeatable, say Downton and Chandarana – “to ensure that everyone in the organisation should be able to take ownership of it and relate to it”.

Alongside this, there has to be a robust methodology to define and implement the changes required and the application of proper project management. The latter, crucially, needs to be “owned by the marketing team, not just by external consultants engaged to support in the process”.

And marketing teams also need to realise digital transformation is not just an internal exercise.

“Agency partners need to be involved and may have experiences from other clients that can improve the process,” the authors suggest.“They may be able to advise on the implications for ways of working, communications development and collaboration as well as what needs to be produced and when.

“Ultimately, any significant changes in these areas will require a review of the external agency model at some point in the process,” they add.

Sourced from WARC