This is why your “digital transformation” is not working

Everybody is about “digital transformation” these days. Finally it’s a fact in all boardrooms that digital is something we need to reckon with. The worry that TV will get killed by the Internet is also gone, so people can confront digital without the fear that their livelihood might go (let’s be honest, most marketeers still look to TV as THE MEDIUM).

[as an aside, the Internet IS going to kill TV but only in the sense that the way video content will be consumed is through an internet connection on big TV screens. That’s a fact right there.]

But when it comes to digital transformation and making your organization digital-first or digitally-led (all horrible ways to say that you need to start getting with the programme and being where your consumers are), the key problem I see is that most brands still think of the Internet and technologies associated with it as yet another place to put their ads on. They’re effectively taking this amazing, awesome marketplace the Internet is and reducing it to a billboard.

And here’s why that’s wrong:

Firstly, because you’re basically taking fire and deciding the only point of fire is to light a cigarette. If you think that the Internet is media you buy or earn, you’re missing the point.

Secondly, because all technologies associated with the Internet would be better used if made a part of the way any brand does business. e-commerce is the simplest example that comes to mind. But then also using internet’s incredible power to harness insights from huge numbers of your customers, expanding your customer base, connecting with people who develop technologies that could improve your own product, cross-selling, replacing all company literature with digital version, all of these are better ways to do things you already do offline, online.

Finally, even inside your organization, siloing Internet into that thing that we do on our spare time and marketing tries to do is absolutely crazy. There’s no end of research out there that says that collaboration, paperless offices and global desks generate better returns for companies. All of those, BTW are only available because the Internet is here.

So next time, you think about digital transformation and your only thought is what percentage of your TV budget you need to now allocate to digital, know that you have already failed at being digital first.

Digital Strategist. The Internet will save the world (pending verification). Views expressed here are my own/should not be construed as coming from my employer.

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