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Who's Responsible For Digital Transformation?

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 7/28/2014

With small and medium-sized businesses eyeing new opportunities in the digital space, most say that marketing and the CMO should act as champions for digital transformation.

Most companies are eager to take advantage of new opportunities in the digital arena. In fact, many small and medium-sized businesses are hoping that digital transformation--the realignment of technology to reach customers across a range of digital touch points--can improve their ability to compete against larger companies.

Digital Transformation Responsibility

But the success of these digital initiatives hinges on a single, fundamental question: who is responsible for driving digital transformation in the organization?

Citing research from the Altimeter Group, a recent Ad Age article reported that the majority of businesses think that the CMO and marketing teams are responsible for championing and implementing digital transformation initiatives.

While 88 percent of companies said they are formally pursuing digital transformation this year, 54 percent said the CMO is responsible for leading the charge, followed by the CEO (42%), CIO/CTO (29%), Chief Digital Officer (15%) and Chief Experience Officer (5%).

But in many cases, digital transformation is too narrowly focused on investments in automation or the latest social media and marketing technologies. By approaching digital transformation in such a narrow way, businesses create a dangerous scenario in which technology isn't connected to meaningful outcomes or actual customer behaviors.

"A lot of businesses are suffering from shiny object syndrome: Get the new technology, go social, go mobile," Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group told AdAge. "The smarter companies are looking at how does experience [and] behavior align with our technology investments so that we can make better technology investments and optimize."

Ideally, good marketing can bridge the gap by introducing a better understanding of the customer into the digital transformation process. For small companies, the key is to thoroughly evaluate how new digital solutions can be used to achieve specific outcomes--before committing to costly technology investments.

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