This year at the AMA Conference 2016 we were thrilled to have been asked to run a breakfast seminar session on digital. We chose to take the time to ask those attending a question "is it digital transformation or actually digital evolution that we should be thinking about?"

The industry is always awash with jargon and terminology. And one such term, that you may or may not be aware of, that has really come to the fore in recent years is ‘Digital Transformation’.

What is digital transformation?

It is not about replacing paper with technology. Nor is it about simply assigning your traditional roles new digital responsibilities. Digital transformation can mean different things to different people, but to us it is all about transitioning your business vision, models and infrastructure into a new digital ecosystem.

Digital transformation is not enough

Digital transformation, however, indicates that there is an end goal or destination. By going through a transformation you aim to arrive a certain point. But, by the very nature of digital (never mind business as a whole), we feel this is both unrealistic and very short-sighted.

We believe it is an ongoing journey. There is no end point, but - to use a car/road analogy - rather checkpoints and pit stops along the way. And the vehicles on the road around you are getting faster and more advanced every single day.

It's a Digital Evolution

Just look at the advances in smartphone technology and social media in the past decade. Who can remember having an original 'The Facebook' profile back in 2002? Compare that with today's Facebook and, as well as dropping the 'The', we're constantly seeing new features being launched, like Facebook Live and 360. Yes, things have completely transformed, but they have not stopped changing.

Just as the world around you continues to evolve, you need to adopt an agile digital business model in order to begin your Digital Evolution.

Why are people important to Digital Evolution?

In a 2014 study, 90% of businesses found that they lacked the digital skills they really needed to compete. To emphasise the importance of having those skills in-house, research showed that over 90% of jobs would need technology-related skills by last year, nevermind the year ahead. Like the ‘electric oven’ is now the oven, we believe 'digital marketing' should simply be 'marketing'.

You are only as strong as your weakest link. People drive all business and therefore it is your people in which you need to invest.

So, what is the most important part of digital? It’s not the technology as you may believe, or indeed the processes. It is your people. And by people we refer to both your staff, internal stakeholders and your audiences and customers.

Digital business models

As an agency we want to challenge preconceptions and traditional business model paradigms, that run the risk of glossing over the problem rather than fundamentally changing things. Traditionally, businesses operated with a focus on efficiency, a hierarchical structure and an attitude of keeping costs low rather than valuing talent as a business asset. Digital business models are fundamentally opposing and require a massive culture shift in order to be more innovative, collaborative and agile.

The traditional model is ego based (with clear hierarchy and roles) whilst digital focuses on creating a supportive ecosystem, looking at how everything is interconnected and dependent on each other, with more rounded roles and shared skill sets. Rather than command and control it’s all about influence and persuade. In this digital ecosystem, you can effect change and influence others more easily.

Don't just transform. Evolve.

A Masai saying that we feel reflects much of what we’ve covered today in this blog (and in the above presentation) is this: “if you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together!”

Digital will not stop changing. Neither should you.

Want to hear about other sessions from the AMA Conference 2016? Here are some of our highlights.