Digitization has reached all companies and is revolutionizing the market. Now, chief digital officers (CDO) and chief marketing officers (CMO) need to take the next step – from distributed digitization initiatives to a holistic strategy that views digitization as an essential element of their companies' DNA.
Obviously enough – this is no longer news – customer sovereignty has grown and grown. Globalization has been leading to oversaturated markets, and digital media are providing growing opportunities for customer participation. Customers can choose from untold numbers of suppliers. They inform themselves via social media, share their opinions and influence the ways in which brands are perceived. In short, customers have the advantage. Theoretically, companies know how to deal with these things. They know that in our new era of digitized customer centricity they need to reach out to customers. That they need to reach out interactively, in real time and via multiple channels, and tailor their communications and product development to customers' requirements. And they know they can do all of this via digital omni-channel strategies, big-data analyses and artificial intelligence. In actual practice, many companies are still far from being able to do these things, however. And this presents challenges for chief digital officers (CDO) and chief marketing officers (CMO).
Analysis and action
Digital applications are being used in many places, and transformation projects are underway here and there. Initial steps are being taken – but often they are not being thought through to a useful end. Consider the area of big data, for example. Companies have already been learning how to collect data via multiple channels and then store the data. But often they are failing to link the data in any intelligent, useful way, even though such linkage is the key to effective big data strategies. What data should be collected in a campaign, for example? Not just the names of the customers who have been approached, but also such details as when the customers were contacted, how they reacted, etc. If the different areas involved in a marketing campaign are not coordinating their efforts and evaluating such information, the campaign may come to nothing. And marketing campaigns can be highly cost-intensive. The central aspect to consider is thus as follows: Where is the aggregated data winding up, and how is it being used? To be able to use big data effectively, in order to get to know customers and their preferences, and then act accordingly, departments have to stop thinking in "silo" terms and have to start working closely together – even though this may mean revamping their communication or adapting their portfolios.
Making the digital the norm
Companies often lack an overarching vision and a clear-cut digital-transformation strategy that takes all processes into account. Often, they simply lack the know-how they need in order to plan and implement effective digital strategies. CDOs and CMOs at such companies thus need to start by developing suitable targeted initiatives, defining and establishing overarching standards and bringing reliable partners on board who have the necessary know-how about the transformation-process and technology aspects involved. Again: Most companies have not yet enshrined and implemented digital strategies in their corporate cultures and throughout their entire value chains. They need to do this, because only companies that focus on all digital points of contact to their customers – in all areas, from procurement to production, and to supply and service – truly gain a 360-degree view of their customers. To gain new customers, introduce new products and brands and develop their brand recognition in the long term, companies need to make the digital the norm.
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