Driven by customer expectations for a better digital experience, there’s little question that digital transformation is high on the corporate agenda. Recent research from the Altimeter Group has shown that 88% of organisations are currently undergoing digital transformation efforts. However, only a quarter of them articulated a clear understanding of what is meant by “digital transformation”.

Given that every organisation takes a different view of its markets, uses different technologies and has different business processes, the technological steps and organisational changes necessary to achieve digital transformation are almost certainly going to be different as well. But from a strategic standpoint, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what digital transformation looks like – even if the implementation will vary greatly from one company to the next.

A great starting point is Altimeter’s definition that digital transformation is “the realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touch point in the customer experience lifecycle”. Today, customer experience is not just about businesses making decisions, the customer is central. With this in mind, simply spending money on marketing or social technologies, or adding touch points such as mobile, falls well short of achieving a digital transformation. Keeping up with today’s dynamic customer landscape requires far more.

In most cases, organisations who want to achieve a digital transformation need to fundamentally rewire their internal structures to be more aligned with customer needs and interests. It takes a deep understanding of the customer journey and how the customer’s demands shift as the journey progresses. It also takes organisational structures and technologies that are agile and adaptable to change. At the same time, content is key. If you are engaging your customer you need something to engage them with, and that something is content.

Digital transformation is well underway with companies such as L’Oréal becoming early adopters. Those that want to survive need to transform themselves in this way, or fear being left behind. One of the cornerstones of the digital transformation is engagement and interaction with the customers (in short: the customer experience) which can only happen when business and technology are aligned.

To align the business with technology, marketers are being forced to become tech savvy while the IT teams must embrace both business and marketing strategies. That said, more of the purchasing power and leadership is coming from the marketing team since they are the ones communicating with the customer. IT, of course, still has a vital role to play to ensure a company’s infrastructure remains stable and secure and marketing gets the tools that they need – factors that take on new importance as digital becomes more central to a company’s success.

The growing importance of a digital experience has been embraced by a range of companies, from local start-ups to global powerhouses. The result has been an explosion in marketing technology offerings, fuelling digital transformation across all industries – and this evolution is far from over. There has never been a better time for businesses to think about their customer journey and hop on the digital transformation train!

By Oliver Jaeger, e-Spirit