“It is not about doing ‘digital marketing’, it is about marketing effectively in a digital world.”
I really like this quote from Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes. It keeps the technology in perspective, relative to the consumer. It puts the onus on everyone, not just those with digital in their job title.
In contrast, many organizations treat it as “doing digital.” Some have even created a new C-level role called the Chief Digital Officer. Floating somewhere between a CMO and a CIO, McKinsey describes the CDO role as “Transformer in Chief.”
Giving “Digital” C-level focus appears to give “Digital” a high level of strategic priority, but it also treats it as a silo, distinct from the rest of the business. It can be heavy on hype and light on substance. It can obviate the responsibility of everyone in an organization to figure out how to do what they do better with digital technology.
I found a telling Chief Digital Officer story at a healthcare company:
“A recently-named chief digital officer took a trip to California to visit Google, where he ended up cruising around Mountainview in a smart car. The CDO had recently been promoted by health care provider employer.
“In the meantime his clinician colleagues were meeting with a software vendor about streaming patient vital signs to their smart devices, allowing them to provide care away from the bedside.
“Rather than giving the CDO the prestige he’d intended, the Silicon Valley sojourn was widely ridiculed as a boondoggle. It had nothing to do with what how the healthcare network needed to exploit digital for patient care.”
The use of the word “digital” reminds me of the use of the term “e-business” in the late 90’s. A whole crop of “e-business” consultancies, agencies, and job titles suddenly emerged to help companies figure out how “the rules of business had changed.” IBM popularized the “e-business” term in a 1997 ad campaign.
Thinking about “digital” too much as “transformation” can blind us from seeing the opportunities directly in front of us. As Professor Mark Ritson described it: “It’s impossible to find an Archimedean point where digital ends and so-called ‘traditional’ channels begin.”
Here’s a related cartoon I drew last year on this topic. I’d love to hear your thoughts.