Eighty percent of business leaders expect their companies to become digital enterprises by 2019. The digital transformation we’ve been seeing in recent decades will continue – and there’s reason to believe it will do so at an exponential pace.
Richard Robinson, Turn’s EMEA managing director, convened a summit along with speakers from Ogilvy, Incisive Media, and The Drum to discuss the topic of digital transformation and its power to mold companies and brands from every arena [read a comprehensive report here]. That nomenclature was chosen for its familiarity, but even that is due for a shake-up. “Digital transformation is something of a cliché, a catch-all,” John Barnes, the chief digital officer of Incisive Media, explained at the event. “Because practically everything today is ‘digital,’ almost all transformation occurs through the application of technology.”
Companies should be looking instead at real technology-driven innovation, the participants agreed.
Given that true innovation can’t be achieved merely by adding a digital or high-tech element to an existing business structure, many don’t know how to proceed.
One way to start is directly from the top: a recent survey showed that over half of respondents believed the biggest barrier to implementing change was a lack of leadership mandate. That said, however, it can’t stop at the top. Game-changing innovation can come from individuals at any level within an organization, provided they feel empowered to innovate.
No one wants to harm their core business in the push for change, a problem that academician and entrepreneur Clayton Christensen termed the “innovator’s dilemma.” Disruption can be a challenge to certain companies simply because the traditional processes and models that have made them historical successes can actually hold them back. (As the summit panelists pointed out, income from paper distribution or terrestrial television is still far larger than any offset from digital revenue, and to get rid of that income stream would have a severe negative impact on shareholder value.)
But no company has to navigate the digital thicket on its own. It’s important to enlist the aid of agencies and tech partners and insist that everyone work seamlessly together, sharing valuable data and working for the greater good. “We are often dealing with legacy structures and silos, so what can happen is that the client can lose out and not get the best possible result,” Robinson said. “There is real transformation that still needs to take place – barriers to how marketers and business executives need to think.”
To learn more about breaking those barriers and successfully facing the challenges and opportunities ahead, see our report done in partnership with The Drum.
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