June 14, 2021

For Digital Innovation Success: Focus on the Customer, not “Digital” Shiny Objects

One of the results of the pandemic has been an imperative for Marketing to drive new digital business.  A recent Gartner Board of Directors survey found that nearly 70% of board members believe their organizations must accelerate their new digital business initiatives in 2021.  This significantly implicates marketing.  In fact, nearly two-thirds of marketing leaders say they are more involved in their company’s digital business initiatives this year (compared to 2020).  While this focus on digital innovation and new investments is good news, this also puts Marketing in a perilous position.  They can either be seen as “orchestrators”  in leading their organization’s digital transformation efforts, or as reactive “order takers”.
Digital Order Takers: Bad for Marketing and Bad for Business 
Marketing leaders as digital order takers is a no-win situation.   Here, marketing is often brought in late in the planning process.  Their role is largely to “market” a new digital innovation (for example, a new app feature).  And, they get all of the blame (if it fails), but none of the credit (if it succeeds).   More concerning, the current state of digital innovations (where Marketing is an order taker) is “mixed” at best.  A recent Gartner survey found that nearly half of customers can’t tell the difference between most brand’s digital experiences.  Moreover, 58% of customers believe that most digital experiences don’t impact what they end up buying, and only 14% of customers did something different after a digital experience.

Beyond these internal dynamics, digital order takers are often chasing the latest shiny digital object.  While having some understanding of emerging digital trends or new technologies is good, this alone won’t elevate your position in your organization or improve the performance of your digital innovation efforts.
Digital Orchestrators: The Right Mix of Digital and Customer Understanding 
By contrast, digital orchestrators understand  that an essential element of digital innovation is deep customer understanding.  Moreover, they recognize that no one understands the customer better than Marketing and they leverage this to get “the right seat” at the table.  This means that they are brought in early in the planning process and shape strategy.  In addition, they not only provide insight on customer-facing elements but also drive strategic organizational drivers.

For example, marketing leaders at TD Bank use their position as a digital orchestrators to push the organization for greater differentiation in their digital efforts.  Instead of waiting for the Product team to come up with an app feature and told to “sell it”, they use their access to customers to identify a tightly scoped, high-potential customer need  – is this important enough for our customers?  Then, they convene a diverse group of internal stakeholders (e.g., marketing, sales and product) to pressure-test the customer need and potential solutions for differentiation – are we providing support in a unique way? (See, Redefining Marketing’s Role in Digital Experience Innovation, G00740553) 

TD Bank reports a substantial increase in the use of the digital tools it has built using this process. This successful digital innovation is not the result of new-to-world technology or flashy digital engagement, but instead, good old-fashioned customer understanding practices.

Marketing’s role in digital innovation efforts tracks closely with a broader marketing challenge.  Demonstrating we should be a strategic, leading force and not a reactive player.  Marketing’s ability to be a digital orchestrator (and not an order taker), is not dependent solely on their digital/MarTech savviness, but instead, on their deep knowledge of customer needs.

The top trends in tech

Which technologies have the most momentum in an accelerating world? We identified the trends that matter most.

The McKinsey Crossword: Starting Work | No. 28

Sharpen your problem-solving skills the McKinsey way, with our weekly crossword. Each puzzle is created with the McKinsey audience in mind, and includes a subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) business theme for you to find. Answers that are directionally correct may not cut it if you’re looking for a quick win.

In conversation: Managing in extreme uncertainty

The pandemic tested organizations’ ability to find the right balance between overreacting and underreacting. Capturing lessons from this crisis will help leaders navigate uncertainty in the future.

BrandPost: Connect, Migrate, Manage, Modernize: A Framework for Edge Success

IT leaders have no shortage of priorities to balance as they position their organizations for resiliency and growth. And one of the hotspots for growth and transformation is the Edge.As businesses push their infrastructure toward the network edge, making sure everything works together is key. But driving that functionality should be your business objectives, says Dave Shacochis, Vice President, Enterprise Strategy and Field CTO at Lumen Technologies.  IT leaders should answer this question, Shacochis says:“Have you defined your software value chain, and what are the reasons and rationales that would drive you to go and run that value chain out closer to the edge of your network?”To read this article in full, please click here

BrandPost: 4 Ways HKBN’s Co-CIOs are Transforming Hong Kong’s Fastest Growing Telco

When HKBN launched in 1999, it was with one simple mission: to make ultra-fast fibre broadband available and affordable to everyone in Hong Kong. Today, our company serves more than one in every three residential households and one in every two active companies across the territory, with more than 1 million residential subscribers and over 100,000 enterprise customers.And we’re not stopping there. Now, we’re building on that success to transform from a traditional telecom carrier selling connectivity services to a powerful information and communications technology (ICT) partner for our enterprise customers. Over the last five years, that’s seen us rapidly evolve from an organization with a focus on product innovation to one that’s obsessed with engaging directly with our customers.To read this article in full, please click here

CIO Portal