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Organisational mind shifts that enable digital transformation

How evolving your digital roles and ways of working can drive change in 2020.

August 19, 2020 | By Burk Buechler, TEKsystems and Kalev Peekna, One North (Part of TEKsystems Global Services)

A group of people sit at a conference room table exploring mind shifts that enable digital transformations projected around them

Now that digital transformation is no longer a new goal or concept, many are beginning to understand that they need to think evolution—not revolution. Digital transformation is not a project you turn off. It is not an initiative with a start and end date. It is an indefinite Agile adoption that requires long-term roadmaps that are also responsive enough to make way for emerging technologies. The key is iterative enhancements instead of big-bang campaigns and projects.

Digital flows through every aspect of your business—and in some industries—is the business. With expanding and evolving scope of what 'digital' is, marketing leaders must consider how that changes the roles, functions and ways of working that impact digital transformation efforts within their organisation.

With 2020 well underway, consider how organisational mind shifts could impact the success of your digital efforts.

Sitting 'digital' outside of marketing

When a chief digital officer (CDO), director or vice president of digital sits within the marketing department, they become by default the owner of the various customer channels and often governing the purpose of digital across business functions. As a cross-functional leader, CDOs or marketing technologists can act as a translator between the business and the technology that can enable it. Investing in a CDO who works side by side with the chief marketing officer (CMO) in terms of governance is a marker of success.

Empowering your product owners

The role of product owner has never been more important. We see a product owner as a key leader that shapes vision and ties the technical roadmap back to the marketing (and broader business) goals of the company. If you treat the product owner role like a project manager, or treat a vendor as a product owner, then as an organisation you're marginalising that role and it's not going to go well. If the product owner is focused on just completing the project—instead of focusing on creating and impacting business value—you're producing marketing misalignment. Strong product owners that are empowered to own the vision of business-enabling technology put organisations at a competitive advantage.

Embracing new ways of working

The headless architecture model trend is growing because it allows marketing and IT to work together by getting away from monolithic marketing tools that are creating data silos. If you push those systems to the back end, where IT can manage and integrate them with enterprise systems, it allows marketing to build on the front end—and you're no longer beholden to any one platform to try and satisfy all your needs.

Potential advantages: better flexibility and more strategic use of content that lives across digital channels. With the resurgence of IT in the relationship, marketers can innovate on the front end without worrying about the back end. And working with a full-stack technology partner can help integrate a strategy across disparate funnels and systems and formulate meaningful KPIs. All in all—more communication, collaboration and alignment, and fewer silos.

Owning change, risk and accountability

Marketing has never had as much budget or as big a seat at the table as they do now—nor as much accountability. Decisions need to be backed by data instead of feelings or opinions. ROI needs to be attached to actual revenue. Marketing is tasked with not only being an engine for customer and brand experience, but also accountable for sales growth.

It's both an empowering position, and one where checks and balances come into the conversation. Marketers are being held accountable to being good stewards, and yet, they're still heavily reliant on business and technology partners to be owners and drivers of change. Hesitation to fully own driving that change could be due to the perceived risk—the stakes feel too high. However, consider the risk of not being involved in driving digital transformation when marketers are faced with an increasingly complex and crowded competitive landscape.

Burk Buechler is the managing director of digital solutions at TEKsystems. Burk believes in a business-first approach to digital transformation. A dynamic leader with over 25 years of experience across industries and sectors, ranging from healthcare and commercial to financial services and retail, Burk brings a distinctive blend of innovation, leadership and problem-solving expertise.

Kalev Peekna is the chief strategist at One North, leading the digital strategy team. He brings a cross-platform, user-focused approach to innovations in brand development, design, data analysis and technology, and helps clients apply those innovations to their strategic aims. One North is part of TEKsystems Global Services.