The Marketing Strategist:

Keeping Up with Digital Transformation: New Data for Marketers

September 18, 2018

  • Brand & Reputation

As B2B marketers shift ever more resources toward positioning themselves as leaders in digital transformation, keeping up with the actual state of the market is essential.

Most important, of course, is understanding how buyers of digital transformation services are investing, what their top challenges are, and what types of services they are most interested in buying.

Today’s reality, according to ITSMA’s 2018 Digital Transformation Brand Tracking Study, is that a majority of large and mid-sized companies in North America and Europe, as well as Australia, India and Brazil, have moved well beyond the testing/piloting stage.

For marketers trying to connect, the issue is no longer persuading buyers that digital transformation is important, or that we can help companies get started. Rather, the positioning challenge is much more about demonstrating that we understand and can help companies accelerate ongoing change initiatives and ensure tangible and positive outcomes along the way.

As the ITSMA data show, firms are already investing strategically to improve the customer experience and adopting digital collaboration technologies to work cross-functionally. Cultural upheaval is well underway, and marketers need to show that their firms can dig into the details and smooth the path forward.

An evolving landscape

ITSMA interviewed 451 senior IT and business decision makers across medium- and large-sized enterprises in April-June 2018 to gauge the state of the market as well as perceptions of the key players.

ITSMA defines digital transformation as “Investments in new technology, business models, and processes to drive value, improve customer relationships, and compete more effectively in the digital economy.”

The study has found that at the furthest ends of the spectrum there are similar numbers of leaders and laggards.

  • At the leading edge, a pioneering 12% of companies are well along in transforming their business models. They have aligned people, process, and technology across all functions and business units to support new, innovative operating models and to optimize digital and mobile experiences.
  • For laggards, 10% are at the experimental stage, just beginning to test new digital technologies and channels. And 2% are aware they need to do something but are still carrying on as normal.

The vast majority can thus be characterized as a work-in-progress. They are implementing technology in order to make fundamental changes to their systems and processes.

  • Almost 40% say they are exploiting digital technologies to encourage new ways of collaborating across the organization to include not only sales, services, and marketing, but also HR, product development, manufacturing, and finance.
  • An equal number have taken the next step by appointing an executive sponsor for digital transformation and are making systematic investments to improve the customer experience.

Objectives and challenges of the digital revolution

A third of respondents agree that their main strategic objective is to grow revenue. Improving profitability is the second priority (31%), followed by entering new markets (29%) and improving the customer experience (25%). Interestingly, transformation to deal with competitive threats from either traditional or non-traditional sources seems less of a concern.

But it costs. When asked to rank their top challenges, 67% mentioned budget. Just over half said that change management was a concern, and 47% highlighted the complexities of new technology as a challenge.

Update: Positioning for Digital Leadership: 2018 Digital Transformation Brand Tracking Study was published by ITSMA on October 8, 2018. 


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