In December 2019, Ed Kennedy, an e-commerce strategist at Episerver, published this prediction for the year ahead:
“The hype cycle of digital transformation is fading and many marketing and technology executives are nursing the hangover from overstated, ego-driven digital transformation programs. I predict we will see marketing and e-commerce leaders become much more pragmatic about their digital advertising, customer experience, and digital commerce programs. I expect organization leaders to put their heads down by tuning and fixing customer experiences instead of investing in wholesale digital transformation programs.”
He continued, “Specifically, I am looking for leaders to improve the relationship between social and their websites, email and their websites, mobile and desktop, online and in-store. They’ll make these improvements incrementally and justify each improvement on its own metrics. As a result, analyzing a customer journey across channels and devices will become absolutely critical so leaders can dissect and tune various aspects of the customer journey.”
I thought this was great insight and advice in 2019, and I believe in a pragmatic digital strategy even more so today. Digital transformation doesn’t mean outright disruption. It doesn’t have to be a radical shift or a huge upfront investment in new technology. Successful digital transformations are a continuous effort - an incremental process to better deliver your core value proposition.
Whether you’re just beginning your digital transformation or plotting the next move on your journey, here are three reasons digital pragmatism is key to a successful digital transformation.
2020 has thrown the business world a lot of curveballs. The global pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital. It has changed the way buyers behave, shop, and purchase. And companies across the globe have had to update fundamental business operations to merely survive.
Many companies that invested in a wholesale digital transformation prior to the pandemic have found themselves at a disadvantage. They’ve dumped a lot of money into technology that may no longer serve the needs of the business or the market. Had they taken a more pragmatic approach, they’d be better positioned to pivot their strategy to align with the ever-changing needs of the business. (In this case, a mass shift to digital work and digital commerce and an uncertain economy.)
The coronavirus is an extreme example, yes. But markets and customer demands can rapidly change for a variety of different reasons. You can’t predict what will happen tomorrow. Taking an incremental approach to digital allows you to change course as needed, without having to rebuild your entire digital engine.
New technology innovations are released every day. As markets and customer demands change, you want to be sure you’re adopting the technology best suited to meet those changes. If you invest heavily in a suite of digital solutions upfront, you have less room to deploy new or emerging technology that can drive significant change for your organization down the road. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, blockchain, and the Internet of Things are the future, and you’ll want to ensure you can take advantage of these rapidly changing advancements.
As you map your digital transformation, prioritize the adoption of new technology or digital processes based on what will generate the greatest return on investment today, but revisit and optimize the plan after each phase of completion to see if new technology has been released to help you meet your objectives faster or more efficiently.
Assure the foundation of your digital ecosystem can grow with your business to future proof your investment. Episerver’s platform for web content management (WCM) and digital commerce, for example, has an open .NET API so you can integrate with virtually any new or emerging technology and uplevel your business as new technologies hit the market.
To determine the success of your digital transformation project, you’ll need to set realistic, measurable goals. But when you deploy a host of new technologies and processes all at once, it becomes increasingly difficult to attribute your success to any one technology or process. And when you can’t identify what is driving results and what is missing the mark, you can’t optimize your strategy.
Adopting an incremental approach to digital transformation ensures you can effectively track and measure what technology and processes are actually driving transformational change. You’re able to prioritize investments in areas or technologies with the most impact and reallocate resources or budget accordingly.