IT Brief NZ - Build digital expertise without creating a digital silo


Build digital expertise without creating a digital silo

In many marketing organisations today there is a distinct divide between the digital ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. A few months ago I wrote about a debate that we Gartner marketing analysts were having about whether the Digital Center of Excellence is going the way of the dodo.  We settled on the fact that for some brands it is — while for others who are at the very beginning of their digital journey – a Digital CoE may still be appropriate (How and When to Use a Center of Excellence, subscription required).

Then last month, Campbell’s announced that they were abolishing their digital divide and unifying all marketing functions under the new CMO.  Surprisingly to me, digital wasn’t a distinct group within marketing it was its own entire function. It turns out that’s not entirely unusual. In fact, from 2013 – 2015 many predicted that the Chief Digital Officer role would rise and be a standalone role reporting to the CEO with the mission of helping brands connect the customer to the business through digital channels. But as Scott Brinker put it well in his note on the topic, what is marketing’s role if not connecting with the customer – regardless of the channel they prefer.

That left me ruminating a bit about why so many brands are woefully far behind in their maturity. Despite frequent brand PR about creating innovative customer experiences and touting their amazing personalization capabilities, most enterprises are still in the crawl stages of a crawl-walk-run transformation.  In fact, our Marketing Maturity Model tool will let you benchmark yourself – then you can see where you land compared to 51 enterprise marketers who have shared their status since our interactive tool went live.

You might be surprised to find that there is not a single category where brands feel that they are advanced or at mastery. Based on the averages, it’s clear that very few even consider themselves intermediate in such areas as mobile, digital commerce and multichannel marketing. [DetailedMarketing Maturity Model results available, subscription required.]


Back to the question at hand.

Why are brands behind at digital?

Whether you have a Digital CoE or digital team or not, too many marketers still treat digital as a separate domain that only unique experts or digital natives can master. They are perpetuating this digital divide and slowing down not only their companies but their careers.

Marketing leaders should stop treating digital like it’s special and treat it like it’s a normal part of the everyday marketing mix – as it must be to meet expectations of today’s multichannel audiences. If you decide to have a separate digital group – do NOT isolate them. Bring them into the fold of marketing and make cross-training and education of staffers who don’t know much about digital part of their remit.

In turn, educate digital-philes about some of the nuances of traditional marketing. There are too many who scoff at classic, but critical marketing best practices like understanding the 4Ps (still relevant), knowing why and how brand building is an important complement to direct response marketing and even realising that sometimes – yes, it’s true – things like direct mail are STILL great tactics (there is a right time and place).

Training programmes abound – from university based, to vendor led (which might be biased but not all bad) to research driven to self-paced online basics. Combining available free and premium education with cross training in your own organisation – you are bound to accelerate your digital maturity as a brand even faster than just relying on those ‘digital’ teams to pull you forward.

What are you doing to break down silos between digital and the ‘rest of marketing’ in your organisation so that the entire company becomes one of the digital haves?

Article by Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, Marketing Exec and Industry Analyst

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