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Attributes of Companies Going Through a Digital Journey

Alexander Group recently led a research effort to understand the state of digital maturity across multiple organizations. Elizabeth Watson, director for Alexander Group’s Manufacturing and Distribution practice, broke down the key results from the research providing insight into the attributes of companies at various stages of their digital journey.

Defining Digital

Alexander Group asked companies how they define digital, and definitions varied widely. It became clear that many organizations struggle to define digital consistently, with several trying to narrow it down to one thing. Some said e-commerce, while others answered omnichannel or data science.

Defining digital too specifically can be limiting while having too broad of a definition is often unwieldy. Alexander Group’s research indicated that mature digital organizations form around seven objectives that feed into the foundational vision.

  1. Strategy and Leadership: Differentiate based on customer needs, turning marketing, sales and service functions into a competitive advantage.
  2. Culture: Accelerate digital literacy through an aligned definition, organizational agility and change management.
  3. Talent: Develop, recruit, motivate and retain the human resources needed to turn your digital vision into a reality.
  4. Data and Insights: Advance intelligence by contextualizing data applications for customers, colleagues and systems.
  5. Technology: Create technical agility speed integration of back-end systems with front-end customer experience.
  6. Operations: Redefine processes to deploy the right motions to colleagues and customers at the right time.
  7. Customer Experience: Deliver seamless customer experiences across physical and digital interactions to improve revenue growth, market share and customer satisfaction.

Customer Expectations Inform Digital Requirements

The research suggests that in the journey to become a transformational, omnichannel organization, there are four stages that align with customer expectations.

Customers Rely on Physical Channels: Companies do not feel the pressure to maintain more than foundational digital capabilities.

Customer Preferences Begin to Shift: The absence of a digital strategy becomes more of a pain point for the organization and different branches of the company begin experimenting with digital capabilities.

Customers Feel Empowered by Digital: Companies begin integrating data systems and processes across marketing, digital, sales and service organizations.

Customers Expect an Omnichannel Experience: The digital team has architected a sophisticated, omnichannel experience for customers.

Key Roles Enabling the Shift to Omnichannel

As manufacturers and distributors move further along in their digital maturity journey, it becomes necessary to deploy new roles. In the beginning, many organizations will invest in core roles such as demand generation managers and data analysts. Often the next step is to deploy e-commerce managers, and for manufacturing firms, channel marketing specialists. When an organization reaches the transformational stage of its digital journey and is seeking to perfect its omnichannel experience, it will often deploy an omnichannel experience manager and/or an omnichannel program manager for coordination. Finally, a data scientist role is frequently utilized to leverage assets to power predictive, personalized marketing and sales motions.

For most digitally mature organizations, the function of a digital team is eventually elevated outside of commercial and into a separate digital structure, generally owning platforms, marketing and operations.

Advice From the Leading Edge

Executive respondents of the study considered transformational and omnichannel advice they would give to others whose organizations are at an earlier stage of digital change. There were three common themes:

  1. Start with a roadmap and organizational communication
  2. Connect marketing, sales and service with data, systems and process
  3. Be agile and prioritize projects impacting customer experience

If you are interested in learning more about how Alexander Group can assist your organization with your digital transformation, please contact a manufacturing and distribution practice lead.

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