Webinar Recap, “Digital Transformation: The Marketing and Experience Imperative”

Transform by Simon held an open roundtable yesterday led by Nick Drake, VP of Global Marketing at Google, Doina Harris, CPO at Simon, and Richard Demato, Head of Transformation at Simon. 

Nick Drake started with his high-level thoughts around digital transformation. “[Digital transformation] is such a journey, and at the end of the day, the journey is what I think fulfills all of us. This is a never-ending activity. I don’t think anyone will ever call themselves ‘digitally transformed.’ It’s a constant evolution.”

Nick’s first foray into digital transformation came in the form of a challenge he’d initially underestimated: bring T-Mobile’s digital transactions from 2% of gross additions (new customers) to 30% over the next two years. Always up for a challenge, Nick accepted the charge immediately, but over the coming weeks, he came to realize the massive scope of this deceptively simple ask. 

To learn more about how Nick Drake went about planning and executing this ambitious digital transformation project, click here for the full webinar recording.

After telling the story of T-Mobile’s massive transformation project, Nick passed the mic to Doina Harris, who came to Simon with extensive experience at companies like AppNexus and Google.


Better Customer Relationships: The Simple Goal Behind a Complex Journey

While digital transformation can be an exciting world of endless possibilities, it’s important not to lose sight of the north star: great customer relationships. After all, if you already had excellent personal relationships with each of your customers, why would you need to undergo digital transformation?

But to cut through the world-worn buzz of “great customer relationships,” Doina simplified the matter: 

Assume your organization has one single customer with whom you only engage in physical channels. Your only goal is to know and satisfy that one customer fully. How would you want to communicate with them? What would you learn about them? How would you choose what goods or services to recommend to them, and how would you best communicate that recommendation? How would you earn their trust?

When you can create a healthy relationship like this, this customer will recommend you to friends and family; they will choose your product over less expensive or convenient options; they will stick with after one of your recommendations falls short.

Put in that simple lens, consider the goal of digital transformation to be re-creating this level of intimacy — what Scott Galloway calls customer monogamy — at scale, from one person to 2 million, 20 million, 200 million, and more. Not only that, but you must do this primarily in digital channels. 

To do this, the technology underpinning your transformation must give you the ability to listen, think, and speak to customers in a highly personalized, relevant, and consistent way, at scale, across business units, functions, and channels.


Prioritize Use Cases, Not Shiny Objects

The challenge is that even the best marketing technology has evolved in silos: There are tools for listenings (tag managers, DMPs), tools for thinking (data analytics, BI tools), and tools for speaking (ESPs, ad platforms). But if there isn’t a fluid movement from listening to thinking to speaking, then “intimacy at scale” is not achievable. The real value lies at the intersection of these three capabilities. 

The three significant considerations for thinking ahead to a digital transformation strategy are:

  1. What use cases do you need to focus on to make your transformation a success? Once you’ve answered this question, make technology decisions based on the use cases.
  2. Focus on acquiring key technology capabilities that are foundational to achieving your most important use cases. Avoid getting sucked into “shiny new object syndrome.” 
  3. Get there fast. “Twelve months ago, I might have told you something different. I might have said there are ways to sequence replacing old parts of your tech stack.” But now, you don’t have the luxury of time. You must make your current stack work for you immediately. 


The Smart Hub: The Simple Center of a Complex Stack

The analogy that Doina used here is — since we’ve all been stuck at home for so long — transforming your home for convenience. You could replace your sound system, then your TV, then your refrigerator, etc. But you don’t need to upgrade their core capabilities. You want them to work together. And you’d be much better off integrating them all with a smart home device.

A bigger point to make, though, is that digital transformation is a deceptively named process. It involves four crucial variables that need to work together, only one of which is technology. The other three are people, process, and culture. 

To learn how Nick Drake set the focus on transforming T-Mobile’s people, process, and culture to truly enable the company’s digital transformation, click here for the full webinar recording.  

To further the analogy a bit, imagine you’ve got your Google Home installed and synced with all the lights in your house. You now have granular control over the lighting across your home with just your voice and your smartphone. You can control color grade, timing, electricity expenditure, etc. But one member of your family doesn’t adopt the process. Instead, they stick with their habit of flicking switches. 

This isn’t an isolated inefficiency. A flicked switch means that your smart hub can’t communicate with that light. Suddenly, the whole family is doubling up on both flicking switches and using smart hub controls until the manual method wins out. Without buy-in from the people, adherence to the process, and a change of culture in the home, the “digital home transformation” is a waste of time and money. 

For Nick Drake’s presentation on how he overcame the people, process, and culture obstacles to digital transformation, click here for the full webinar recording. 

You’ll also get a killer Q&A session that includes answers to questions like:

  • When you think about the need for brands to act and adapt at the speed of the modern customer, what are critical components to their success?
  • How do organizations need to rethink their approach to data investments leveraging that data to build excellent customer relationships?
  • How do organizations ensure they accelerate now but build a foundation for maintaining long-term transformation? 


Click here for the full webinar.

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