Connecting the digital transformation dots
There is so much talk about digital transformation that it almost seems over-used, over-hyped jargon. But “DX” is anything but. In fact, IDG projects that spending on digital transformation technologies has reached $1.3 trillion (USD) and will grow to $2.1 trillion by 2021.
The reasons why are clear enough. Organizations are embracing new and emerging digital technologies to achieve efficiency and cost savings. AI, IoT, machine learning and big data are among the new platforms powering the enterprise in this sweeping digital evolution. Emerging technology is also opening up new revenue streams through service digitalization and the realization of innovation driven by legacy IP and industry knowledge that can now be leveraged through integration with digital services.
Digital transformation has reached its tipping point – the point at which digital transformation has become synonymous with business transformation.
But there is an attendant digital transformation underway: digital marketing transformation. Surely, you may be thinking, digital marketing transformation has already come and gone. After all, a quarter century into the digital age, every marketer has a digital marketing strategy and track record.
Today, though, marketers are looking at digital in a more fundamental and foundational way. They are seeking stronger results, measurable return-on-investment, and greater efficiency and scalability. They are endeavoring to connect and personalize the customer experience. And, they are turning to digital marketing technology to do so. Little wonder that brands in North America and the UK alone increased their martech budgets by 44% over the past year to $52 billion(1).
Martech at the heart of digital marketing transformation
Digital marketing transformation, like digital business transformation, has reached its tipping point. Instead of adopting digital technology or adding digital approaches to the mix, marketers are transforming their go-to-market approaches, their organizations and their processes to reflect a fully digital present and future.
So how is this re-shaping agency relationships? In my view, it is doing so in a very positive fashion – for some agencies. Marketers are now starting to seek Agency consultative and activation support to connect all the necessary digital marketing transformation dots…to connect strategy to creativity to content to the right marketing technologies and frameworks. Agencies’ re-shaped operations must accordingly reflect the broader range of integrated competencies required: strategic insights, digital interactions and creative and content inventions combined with martech/adtech and data/analytics proficiency. All delivered reliably and at scale. If agencies (and especially B2B agencies) can deliver this, there is great opportunity ahead. If agencies cannot or flat-out don’t want to, the future will prove more challenging.
The shape of things to come: Post-Modern B2B Marketing
Further to this point (and the reason I’ve launched this blog to begin with), it’s time for agencies to provide the consultative and activation support cited above to connect each and every digital marketing transformation dot. Clients and agencies together must develop digital marketing transformation frameworks designed to calibrate the power of digital strategies and technologies at the strategic, structural and go-to-market activation levels.
Suffice it to say, digital marketing transformation can only be achieved if a staged roadmap is defined and aligned against business and marketing strategy and an organization’s current levels of marketing maturity. The agencies able to deliver transformation roadmaps in collaboration with brands re-set the very notion of an Agency of Record.
(1) Martech: 2019 and Beyond Study from WARC and Moore Stephens