Digital. At one time the black sheep of the marketing family. The add-on. The afterthought. And then, the foundations of statements like 'X has one so we really should too'.
Over the last few years, digital has moved into the mainstream. Amidst traditionalist gasps, there’s even talk that we should stop referring to digital and just talk about marketing again, accepting of the fact that 'digital' sits at the beating heart of modern marketing. Or as my colleague Cat often says, as it has become a commodity in most homes the 'electric oven' is now just known as an 'oven', it’s only a matter of time until 'digital marketing' loses its prefix too.
There is a challenge, though. The speed of change of this vivacious, precocious, rapidly evolving set of channels, of digital evolution has very much left many long lived organisations in the technological Ice Age. Culturally they are not set up to adapt, iterate and evolve at this pace, and here’s the reality - over half of the FTSE 500 have failed in recent years. Many of the world’s leading businesses are now digital (Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc). In order to compete in this new world the older, larger and more traditional organisations and businesses have to adopt the digital evolution culture. So what is Digital Evolution?
A few years back the term Digital Roadmapping (or indeed Digital Transformation) was all the rage. A clear and incisive plan that would allow any organisation to catch up, to position themselves in line with the very latest digital tech and best practice. Then having delivered upon this Roadmap they’d stop (feeling transformed) look around and enjoy the view, only to later look down from their new vantage point and realise they’d fallen behind again. And so... repeat ad nauseum.
The reality is that Digital Evolution never stops. Well never stops evolving.
As such it’s imperative that organisations stop just road mapping and start evolving. Digital Evolution is an ongoing, culturally-committed and vital way of viewing the world that embraces the concept of continuous change. It supports staff to up-skill every day, to seek the horizon whilst focussing on the now and to be comfortable trying new things and the idea of fail fast, iterate and repeat. It delights in fail fast. It embraces change the way oak panelled boardrooms embrace the past.
A culture of Digital Evolution is synonymous with modern day business evolution. They actually run hand in hand. That’s not to say there’s no plan or strategy. It’s just that the plan and strategy need reviewed more often, tested more frequently and changed quickly when needed.
The benefits of a digital evolution culture reaches far beyond the digital aspects. The culture of try, fail and iterate to success then repeat, strengthens the culture of the whole organisation and has been at the core of successful business transformation for many moons.
Achieving this Nirvanic state is almost impossible, but it is possible to get close. It is possible to get guidance, understanding and knowledge to continuously strive for the perfectly evolved state - a state that is prepared to flex and change.
We are After Digital are helping clients as diverse as National Theatre Scotland, EDF Energy Group, Robert Gordon University and Falkirk Community Trust develop a digitally evolving culture. One in which they are set up to continue to succeed, scale and learn.
It’s not about report writing, it’s about action orientation, culture change and exciting your teams to embrace the change and delight in the rapid development of new ways of doing things.
If you’re reading this - we should probably have a coffee and a chat. This is something we’re hugely passionate about and we love to hear from businesses on their challenges. So, get in touch, it’s a little bit scary, but it’s very very exciting.