Industry Trends

What Does Digital Transformation Mean to Marketers in 2021?

Industry Trends | January 25, 2021

Digital transformation is a term that seems to be everywhere these days. But what does it mean exactly? And how does it impact marketers in 2021?

If you are unsure, you’re not alone. In a recent survey, when asked how confident they’d be explaining “digital transformation” to someone else, 69% of survey participants were neutral or didn’t feel confident explaining it, and 29% said they were not confident at all!

There are many definitions of digital transformation but they all point to one concept: a cultural shift in the way business is done

Gartner says digital transformation can refer to “anything from IT modernization (for example, cloud computing), to digital optimization, to the invention of new digital business models.”

CEO Marc Emmer of consulting firm Optimize describes it even more broadly as “the conversion from everything that was analog to digital.”

Daniel Newman of CMO Network says digital transformation in marketing “refers to the shift from digital complacency to the active pursuit of digital excellence through the proper usage and optimization of your digital channels.”

As you can see, there's a wide range of thoughts on what exactly digital transformation is. But what there seems to be a fair bit of consensus on is that digital transformation involves some significant changes to business culture. It means using digital technologies to make processes more efficient or effective -- not just to replicate an existing service or process in a digital form, but to transform it into something significantly better for customers and for staff. And it should begin and end with how organizations think about and engage with their customers.

COVID-19 has caused the pace of digital transformation to speed up

Digital transformation has certainly gained renewed focus over the past year as the pandemic has forced organizations to more quickly alter how they conduct business, and in some cases to make drastic changes. An IDG Research business impact survey conducted in the summer of 2020 showed that 59% of decision-makers say that pressures stemming from the pandemic are accelerating their digital transformation efforts. And an IDC study found that global spending on digital transformation technologies and services is growing around 10% annually.

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Early digital transformation projects were a means for organizations to upgrade their technologies and systems to better compete in an increasingly digital world. But today, digital transformation has evolved into an organization-wide endeavor that updates not just technology, but also business strategies to be more agile in the face of constantly-changing consumer trends.

Why are organizations making the change?

The most commonly reported objectives for digital transformation are increased efficiencies and cost-savings, as organizations hope to improve business processes and culture. Further, organizations have cited the following additional objectives:

  • Create further customer connectedness
  • Optimize automation
  • Leverage big data
  • Enable faster creation and distribution of new products
  • Improve customer experience
  • Enable more effective internal recruiting
  • Make the work environment safer and more efficient for employees

A McKinsey study identified a set of factors that must be in place to ensure digital transformation success within an organization, which are:

  • Having digital-savvy leaders in place
  • Empowering people to work in new ways
  • Giving day-to-day tools a digital upgrade
  • Communicating changes frequently via both traditional and new digital methods

If you’re a marketer, chances are you’ve experienced some level of digital transformation at your organization

MarTech stacks -- the collection of tools and systems that marketers use to optimize and augment their marketing processes throughout the customer lifecycle -- continue to grow as more MarTech offerings are released every year. In fact, according to Chief Martec, there are now over 8000 different MarTech offerings available on the market today. As more organizations begin to undertake digital transformation initiatives, it's likely that marketing teams will see new technologies added to their stack to help make your marketing efforts more data-driven, embrace more digital channels, and improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.

A customer data platform (CDP) is often cited as one of the best technologies to consider as part of a marketing digital transformation. The most advanced CDPs, such as the QuickPivot Customer Data Platform, can be added to your MarTech stack at any time with little disruption to ongoing operations and integrate with your existing systems with no need to remove or replace the tools that work best for you. This means that no matter where your organization is in its digital transformation journey, marketers can immediately reap the benefits of a CDP: a unified customer view, simpler and more efficient customer data management, more accurate and informed data segmentation, and more effective, data-driven marketing campaigns.

Want to learn more about how the QuickPivot CDP can fit into your digital transformation journey? Contact us today!

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