Digital Transformation. Buyer, Beware!

I’ve been watching the rise of the digital transformation business trend, as it relates to marketing and communications, over the past year or so with an eagle eye and a raised eyebrow. Why? As experts in the field of developing digital and through-the-line marketing communications efforts, I’m skeptical of the way the industry is conducting its practice.

See, this industry is so good at jumping on and running with a buzzword. IoT! Big Idea! Big Data! Everyone’s gone native, pitched this, propped that and worn the T-shirt with pride. But oftentimes that t-shirt is a couple of sizes too big…

In the instance of Digital Transformation, agencies and consultancies are galvanizing and pitching themselves as masters of the trade without necessarily equipped with the tools and know-how but arguably more importantly, without fully appreciating the weighty implications this carries for their clients.

In this day and age, I believe that, sometimes, in order to speed up one must first slow down. In the frantic race to digitize all the things, including my left pinkie, I invite you to take a moment so I can share with you my top-line thoughts and recommendations for organizations being pitched a digital transformation initiative. I’m happy to discuss further and at great length also, feel free to get in touch at

  1. Digital Transformation can mean anything. When you’re being pitched digital transformation, it’s essential to really get a clear idea of what exactly that person or company is referring to and how profound a change it will have. Depending on who you’re talking to it could mean anything from “let’s put all your marketing and communications online” all the way to “let’s completely change your business model and organizational structure” and everything in between. A digital transformation initiative is not something to take lightly as it has the potential to have huge consequences (hopefully great and long-lasting ones!). It requires serious auditing, very well thought out and informed strategy and operational roll-out, including robust measurement frameworks.
  2. Organize around the audience. While we’re a digital-led marcomms firm, I’ll be the first to tell you that TV and radio are not dead. Declined consumption and media fragmentation? Sure. But it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. First and foremost it’s important to understand where your audience is, how they interact with various forms of media, be it a podcast or pole poster, and plan accordingly. Think message before medium. 
  3. Infuse rather than pivot. Touching on my point above, integrated marketing communications (IMC) means using a range of touchpoints to communicate meaningfully. It is not a buzzword. IMC is a practice which has been around way before I first cut my teeth as a digital copywriter in a below-the-line ad agency, back in 1999. IMC is a responsible practice, which takes all touchpoints into consideration to make sure the brand story is revealed in a way that is well-received by its intended audience.

When we started Bravo Romeo earlier this year, we thought long and hard about digital transformation as a practice and really thought about what it meant and what our promise and philosophy is. What we quickly realized is that digital transformation within a marketing and communications context should be best practiced as part and parcel of IMC: responsibly, thoughtfully, beta testing, reviewing and augmenting to see what resonates with key stakeholders and what doesn’t; by overlaying the audience’s interests with business objectives and setting measurement frameworks which align with these objectives. We’re with team Solis here, digital transformation should be gradual and phased.

So, if you’re setting out on a digital transformation mission, ensure you’ve done your homework, ensure you have a compelling commercial and strategic mandate to make such a change and ensure you have the right partners on board. Because, pussycat, in an age where everything is faster, faster just be sure that the rush to the big shiny tech toy doesn’t kill kill.

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