Is your organization focused on the right things to drive digital transformation? And I mean a deep, meaningful digital transformation — one where the embrace of digital fundamentally changes an aspect of your business model that results in growth and better profits.
Over the past two months, I filtered through hundreds of “top trends and predictions for 2016” which focused on topics like wearables, Internet of Things, and virtual reality. While these technologies are quickly rising over the horizon, they are NOT going to drive the digital transformation and sustained business impact in 2016 for most organizations.
Instead, I’m focused on the five major priorities listed below. I’ll be honest, they don’t necessarily sound new, fresh, and exciting! But if you don’t make headway on these five priorities, then you won’t be able to capitalize on the next five digital trends on the horizon. For this blog post, I’m going to go through the top five priorities first, and in the next post, address areas where most organizations should watch and prepare for now. [Slide deck of these trends are also available on Slideshare.]
One of the biggest problems with digital transformation is that it spans the entire organization. We’ve found that the key to aligning these disparate interests is to have a common understanding and approach to serving customers. So when internal conflicts emerge around strategy and tactics, you can turn to your customer experience priorities to help with the decision making process. And to build these customer experiences well, ground it in behavior-based customer data. Collecting and using that data will require a thoughtful approach to ethical data use. — Top priority: map out and actually use the digital customer journey for your organization. Related research: The Customer Experience Cloud, State of Digital Transformation, Ethical Data Use.
Our research also found that the biggest barrier to digital transformation is culture — and leadership drives culture. The percentage of engaged employees in US companies continues to be in the low 30’s, despite the introduction of enterprise social networks and collaboration tools like Slack (see below). And leadership remains mired in excuses not to use digital channels to extend their leadership, citing “lack of time” or that “it’s marketing’s job”. Employee advocacy is about to break through, as 45% of organizations have it as one of their top initiatives — but face concerns about giving too much control to employees. Top priority: determine how your culture will need to shift to support the customer experience. Related research: Strengthening Employee Engagement, The Engaged Leader.
To engage your customers, you’ll need content. While it’s a cliché to say that “every brand is a media company”, the actual fact is that most companies don’t have a coherent, cohesive content strategy. They may engage in content marketing where content is being created on put on different traditional, digital, and social channels, but it’s not clearly tied to business value. What’s desperately needed is a strategy that not only lays out content touchpoints across the customer journey, but also looks outside of marketing and communications for sources of expertise — areas like customer service, sales, product development, and human resources. Marry content creation with employee advocacy and you’ll get an explosive mix of social selling, employee-led customer service, and social recruitment. Top priority: a cohesive content strategy that addresses the content needs across the organization. Related research: Culture of Content, Content Marketing Performance.
As digital spreads throughout the organization, who “owns” digital strategy and transformation has become muddled. There’s a disconnect — while 82% of organizations wanted to integrate social and digital in 2015, only 36% had a plan. This isn’t easy — the three major places where digital lives today are in Marketing, Sales, and Service — and all three typically have different platforms, data, content, and metrics. I believe that the three C-Suite level players who need to be in lockstep with each other are the CMO, CIO, and the CHRO. Yes, human resources. Because digital transformation is at its core a people problem — and having the CHRO play a strategic role is essential to digital transformation success. Top priority: Break down digital silos, distribute digital throughout the organization and leadership. Related research: Customer Experience Cloud, 2015 State of Social Business, The Engaged Leader.
This priority is a little different, but primarily because it exemplifies in so many ways the challenge of digital transformation. My colleague, Ed Terpening, found that social ad spending has doubled over the past two years as channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn become increasingly effective at delivering reach and frequency. This puts social channels at the center of digital transformation — what role will it play in the customer experience? For example, as organic social engagement diminishes in effectiveness, will brands shift traditional community engagement in social channels to customer care, and use paid social instead for reach? Or will employee advocacy grow in effectiveness and obviate the need for paid social? And will paid social ads themselves be used to drive awareness at the top of the funnel — or drive commerce with offers? To answer this question, organizations will have to answer the four questions above — alignment on the customer journey, culture and leadership, content strategy, and a rationalized digital ecosystem. Think of it as the canary in the coal mine — if paid social is a silo or organizational mess, it’s likely your digital transformation is too. Top priority: Take a measured, cohesive approach to paid social’s place in the strategy — and budget. Related research: State of Social Business, Trends for 2016.
In my next post, I’ll focus on areas where areas where you need to watch and prepare in 2016 — but where most organizations won’t need to take immediate action on yet.
Altimeter’s guide to navigating the marketing technology landscape and building a stack that can implement a unified content strategy.
A look at how digital trends evolved to diminish PR’s influence in digital.
Don’t assume that customer experience starts with the marketing department
A new report explores the market opportunity in visual analytics.
Two years ago, it was seen as the premier platform for video content marketing. Now, not so much.
Upcoming speaking engagements for Ed Terpening.
Social media listening platforms are evolving beyond simply being listening and publishing tools.
Ed Terpening examines the odds of Microsoft successfully integrating LinkedIn.
The 26.2B acquisition is one of Microsoft’s smartest plays, here’s why.
Aubrey Littleton reports from the 2016 Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara.
Highlights from Mary Meeker’s report, unveiled at Code Conference.
Don’t just start off with creating thought leadership. Start with what your customer wants.
The most valuable social media activity usually can’t be seen or tracked. Here’s how your brand can deal with it.
Why a social media crisis could be the best thing that happens to a brand.
All the news and updates at this year’s Modern Marketing Experience conference are all about the unified CX narrative.
Altimeter publishes the first complete maturity model for companies undergoing a digital transformation.
Chatbots announced at today’s Facebook developer conference, F8.
Facebook’s CEO outlines the company’s plans for its family of apps, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
Altimeter’s new roadmap for how companies can create and implement a unified content strategy for the entire organization.
New survey results from Altimeter show the powerful effect of employee advocacy, and how companies can use it to drive business results.
The unique challenges faced by the insurance industry when it comes to using customer experience as a differentiator.
Key findings from our upcoming research on Employee Advocacy.
Listen to the recorded webinar from Susan Etlinger.
Taking a page out of Snapchat Stories, Facebook has created a revolutionary ad format for mobile.
The latest research report from Susan Etlinger shows how brands must look at their data not only as a technology issue, but as a strategic asset to be used for competitive advantage.
Ed Terpening takes a look at how employee advocacy could be the next way to promote organic content without paying for reach on Facebook.
A new research brief from Brian Solis talks about how digital strategists can succeed by taking an “OPPOSITE” approach to business as usual.
Lots of changes happening at Twitter, here’s what the latest means for brands that use the platform.
Charlene Li takes a look at what areas of digital transformation companies should invest in as the year begins.
From IBM’s Connect conference in Orlando, Susan Etlinger finds new insights into how employee data can be used to transform organizations.
Lessons from the digital disruption of the music industry.
Analyst Susan Etlinger outlines her research agenda and areas of coverage for 2016.
A new survey from CMO Council and Pega Systems shows that data-driven customer engagement still has a long way to go.
Ed Terpening takes a look at the factors that influence the success employee advocacy programs.
Altimeter’s Susan Etlinger is a guest contributor to a new report from the World Economic Forum, prepared by the Global Agenda Council for Social Media.
An eMarketer report predicts 2016 to be the first year that more money will be spent on display advertising than search.
Prophet’s Brand Relevance Index study identified the Top 50 Relentlessly Relevant Brand. Several digital brands broke into the top 50 — what did they do well to make it into this elite group of brands?
Why companies need to start prepping for the rapidly approaching CX opportunities in virtual/augmented reality technology.
The new areas of focus for Altimeter’s research team in the New Year.
It’s time companies brought HR into the C-Suite.
Watch the recorded webinar and download the slides of Altimeter’s presentation of “The Customer Experience Cloud”
New updates from Oracle Marketing Cloud help brands unite disparate data and business units on a single platform.
Susan Etlinger’s thoughts on the recent TED@IBM event on data.
A new book by Altimeter’s Brian Solis underscores the importance of great design and empathy in creating lasting customer experiences.
A new Altimeter report gives companies a roadmap for unifying their teams and technologies around building a unified customer experience across all brand interactions.
The implications of Facebook’s new range of buttons.
Customer experience is no longer just the responsibility of marketing, martech must be used by the sales and service teams as well.
A new thought leadership study from Altimeter and Cofactor.
Employee advocacy of your brand coupled with divisive political expression can harm both your brand and employee influence in social networks.
What every company needs to consider before organizing for social business.
Companies need to look beyond communication to earn consumer trust.
How Altimeter will continue to do research as a part of Prophet Brand Strategy.
Acquisition underscores the potential of social to deliver results outside the marketing department.
A look at why it is imperative for the IoT industry to invest in, collaborate, and innovate specifically around security and privacy, not just broader IoT verticals.
How much further can we take the “customer profile?”
It’s less about the hardware and more about the interoperability of content, services, use cases, communications across devices.
The implications of connected devices communicating at every moment.
A new report from the CMO Council identifies the biggest barriers to effective lead generation through content.
Key findings from Altimeter’s latest benchmark study on social business
Brian Solis talks about marketing to Generation “C” at the Adobe Summit EMEA in London.
What you need to know about how companies can use your data to discriminate against you.
When it comes to consumer data use, communication isn’t just ethical, it’s an integral part of brand strategy.
A new research report by Altimeter Group’s Brian Solis and Capgemini Consulting
The mixed feelings video creators have about using Facebook instead of YouTube.
What you should keep in mind when evaluating your company’s social business maturity.
How every company should evaluate itself against consumer privacy concerns.
Altimeter’s latest benchmark study on how companies are using social media to further their business results.
A new report from eMarketer predicts that by 2017, Instagram ad sales will cross $2 billion in ad sales.
What both consumers and businesses can learn from the Ashley Madison cheating website data breach.
The start of a new era for Altimeter Group.
A new survey by Econsultancy and Oracle Marketing Cloud highlights the challenges marketers face in using Big Data platforms.
Understanding the full implications of being connected everywhere and anytime.
The way Pinterest discloses its data use practices is a great example for brands.
A new survey by Altimeter Group reveals just how concerned consumers are about connected devices accessing and utilizing their personal data.
Brian Solis speaks with Entrepreneur Magazine’s Jason Ankeny on the future of business.
The essential guidelines all businesses need to follow for the ethical collection, use and sale of data.
New updates to Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Journey Builder platform now allow users to map customer journeys across sales, service, marketing and custom apps.
How to get your business noticed in a sea of content and media.
Was Twitter wrong for taking down “Politwoops?”
Jessica Groopman’s guest post for the TRUSTe blog.
With “Buyable Pins,” brands can now use Pinterest to directly sell their products to consumers
The Apple CEO delivered a scathing critique of companies misusing customer information.
Altimeter’s resident Internet of Things expert Jessica Groopman talks with UnboundID’s Emeka Obianwu.
Altimeter’s latest consumer survey focuses on privacy in the new age of connected devices.
Why leaders are so hesitant to engage digitally, and what they can do to overcome that fear.
Salesforce is fielding inquiries from potential buyers, one of whom may be its biggest competitor, Oracle.
If customer experience is based upon data, the first step is earning their trust.
How to start crafting optimal customer experiences in the Internet of Things.
The three key benefits sensors can offer retailers for using IoT to drive loyalty.
The implications of Twitter turning off the tap for one of its biggest data partners.
At its annual conference, Marketo launches real-time, automated messaging capabilities for mobile apps, along with new advertising and IoT tools.
Why the competition between the big marketing cloud vendors shouldn’t be the focus of their clients.
In this 1-hour webinar, industry analysts Susan Etlinger and Rebecca Lieb share their latest research on Content Marketing Performance.
Does Facebook’s restriction on its huge data sets serve the public interest?
Oracle announces long-awaited web, data, and commerce integrations for its Marketing Cloud, highlighting its big ambitions for a unified offering of all its enterprise platforms.
The impact of IBM’s partnership with the Weather Company and its mammoth investment in IoT.
A look at the growth of Beacon devices and their impact on consumers.
Facebook is emerging as an even bigger threat to YouTube by announcing some attractive new features for its video platform.
Five definitive use cases illustrating how companies can use sensors to enhance customer experience.
A look at the digital ethics and privacy conversations from this year’s SXSW conference.
How leaders can make the most of the biggest digitally-focused event of the year.
Why won’t Apple focus on the actual use cases for Apple Watch instead of how it looks?
I recently partnered with Genesys to explore the state and future of customer experience (CX).