Lessons learned from failed digital transformations
- Many factors, like the economy or product appeal, can affect a company’s success with digital transformation, so digital shouldn’t be viewed as a brand’s salvation, according to a Harvard Business Review analysis of how GE, Nike, P&G and other major retail and CPG companies have invested in digital transformations with varying degrees of success.
- Digital is a multi-faceted, diffuse approach that involves more than just technology. It is also an ongoing process that includes continuous monitoring and intervention from digital and non-digital leaders to make sure the best decisions are being made, according to Harvard Business Review.
- Other key lessons from the review of the brands' efforts include the need for digital investments to match an industry’s readiness, in terms of consumers and competitors. The appeal of digital and new technology shouldn’t consume or overtake existing systems, and companies with successful digital transformation initiatives make well-rounded investments on higher-value activities.
Companies that are leading the way with digital transformation are often those that made unprofitable or unsuccessful investments early on, then saw the need to switch strategies, according to the Harvard Business Review analysis. Procter & Gamble, for example, had aspirations of being a highly digital company, but ran into some challenges, per the Harvard Business Review report. At the height of its digital push in 2012 and 2013, the company was ahead in the CPG industry, and according to the analysis, at that time, should have invested in digital in a more targeted way. Today, the company’s digital initiative is more holistic, targeted and driven by value.
Embracing new technology and being innovative can help brands stay competitive, but marketing executives should be careful not to grab ahold of every new technology that comes along. Investing where it makes sense and taking a slow and steady approach can lead to successful digital transformation.
From augmented reality, artificial intelligence and other new technology, it can sometimes be tough for marketers to know which technology will position them ahead of the completion. Wise investments need a careful discovery process and an investment across the board in skills and infrastructure, as well as continuous monitoring and adapting.
Marketers' efforts can also be hampered by what is still a quickly evolving digital media landscape. Marc Pritchard, P&G's chief brand officer, recently called for a cleaner digital ecosystem for marketing and urged the company's marketing partners to address issues of fraud and transparency. The executive has also highlighted his vision for more one-to-one marketing, higher-quality content and brands using their voices for good.
- Harvard Business Review Why So Many High-Profile Digital Transformations Fail
- Marketing Dive P&G's Marc Pritchard on where digital marketing is headed now that there's more transparency
- Marketing Dive 9 trends that will define marketing in 2018