Who is driving digital transformation?

The move to more effective digital strategies and technologies is happening right before our eyes. In a poll of attendees to our recent digital transformation webinar (the on-demand replay can be found on our homepage), 72 percent of respondents indicated they already have a digital transformation strategy in place as shown in the chart below.

One indicator of how important an initiative is to a company is the level of the person selected to lead the initiative. In general, the more important the initiative is to the company’s long-term viability, the more senior the leader assigned to the project. According to our survey, 62 percent of companies pursuing a digital transformation effort are tying it to the C-level. Chances are good they are seeing digital transformation as having a major impact on their success.

Digging deeper, who from the executive suite is driving digital transformation? Again looking at our poll, we can see that the CMO is driving digital transformation in a strong majority of organizations. While CIOs and CTOs are still a factor in a subset of companies, the real driver for digital transformation is the marketing organization.

So why is this shift occurring? Has IT fallen down on its mission? Or is this another case of marketing over reach? I would argue that the reality is neither. Digital transformation is already happening. Companies that want to survive need to transform themselves in this way. It is an external push but there’s also an opportunity. One of the cornerstones of the digital transformation is engagement and interaction with the customers, which can only happen when business and technology are aligned, as I discussed in my last blog post

Essentially what’s happening is that marketers are being forced to become tech savvy while the IT teams are being forced to embrace business and marketing strategies. That said, as our poll indicates, more of the purchasing power and leadership is coming from the marketing side these days since marketing is the one communicating with the customer. IT, of course, still has a vital role to play to ensure the company infrastructure remains stable and secure and marketing gets the tools that they need – factors that take on new importance as digital becomes more central to a company’s success.

The growing importance of customers’ digital experience has been enthusiastically embraced by technology companies from startups to global powerhouses. The result has been a literal explosion in marketing technology offering. This is an industry that barely registered a few years ago. In my next post I will look at the challenges presented by this explosion and discuss how companies can best respond.