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Organisational mind shifts that enable digital transformation

Evolving digital roles and ways of working will help to drive change.

March 31, 2021 | By Burk Buechler, TEKsystems and Kalev Peekna, One North (Part of TEKsystems Global Services)

Digital transformation is not a new concept. Many organisations are beginning to understand that they need to think evolution, not revolution. Digital transformation is not a project with an end-date. It is indefinite Agile adoption that requires long-term roadmaps responsive to making way for emerging technologies. The key is iterative enhancements, not just big-bang campaigns and projects.

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

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, 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. When product owner roles are treated like project manager roles, then the organisation runs the risk of marginalising that role. If the product owner is focused on just completing the project - instead of focusing on creating and impacting business value – the result is 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. When these systems are pushed to the back-end, where IT can manage and integrate them with enterprise systems, it allows marketing to build on the front-end where they are no longer beholden to any one platform to try and satisfy all 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, 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. 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.