Does anyone remember the 4 stages for learning any new skill?
That precious mix of competence and consciousness..

This is somehow the way in which most companies decide to incorporate digital as part of its journey to naturally supply value to their customers. Are these the stages for learning how to face digital transformation? They might be though needed to be said that it was not the purpose of this post.

I will go through each of the four stages and I can not deny that there is an autobiographical component in each of them. Nothing less scientific than a life story. Additionally, there is also a bit of a component of a science fiction novel. Maybe I was projecting my own desires. Who knows? Save yourself the last stage if you are one of those professionals who does not enjoy guessing the future.

Stage of  “Unconscious incompetence”

[Channel Vision]

At this stage companies play to think that most of its revenues come from traditional channels. Business Development managers continue to flout the possibilities of digital because among other things, they measure the activity of digital channels attributing the importance of digital only to the extent that provides users who are 100% “pure internet users”. This reduces the importance of focusing on digital.

It is clear that the state of the art of your digital assets regarding UX determines the level of usage and interaction. In other words, at this stage the company does not give any importance and does not invest heavily in improving the appropriate user experience. And even less importance is given to correctly measuring the potential of their digital assets. The old information systems can barely discern the ratio of business income that comes from digital media or digital channels. This blindness may be one of the greatest obstacles to move into the next phase.

As for paid media the company keeps on dealing with a mix of digital media as a complementary exercise of reach and coverage to traditional media. Social Media is a pending matter, a spooky mystery when you approach the inflexibility of the Legal and Communications departments. The tone of the conversation on social media and the weight of the legal arguments when designing customer value offering shortcut this possibility.
“Intrapreneurs” are treated like crazy geeks and their passionate character ends up with many of them exhausted and socialized or just leaving the company. Those leakages of talent are treated as insignificant at this stage.

Stage of  “Conscious incompetence”

[Cross-Channel Vision]

There has been an awakening in the company. Some intrapreneurs have decided to work really hard to convince the most reactionary colleagues and they feel the need to start having the first web analytics inputs. It is the beginning of a new conversation about performance. The first digital initiatives blossom into the brains of people working for R&D departments, so far away from the business units of the company.

Some scattered initiatives in Social Media start to appear and as a result of this,  some restless units begin to develop profiles and accounts on various social networks. This is normally the case of some crazy Communications and Marketing guys. At this moment in time, social media monitoring tools reviews are being conducted. There is no clear overall strategy regarding social media and as a result remarkable blunders occur in crisis management.

Regarding Paid Media efforts, digital mass media investment is the common in addition to mass media campaigns. Some exercises of CPL are taken place at this stage. The funny thing about these CPL exercises is that 90% of the leads sent to landing pages that were created ad hoc for this campaign will remain there until the end of time. Lack of flexibility from Compliance departments prevents from taking advantage of these valuable contacts.

User experience is an emerging discipline in the company. Digital prime movers are the only ones which give adequate importance to UX. Sadly the front of these companies is owned by departments that at this moment are far more concerned with robustness and security than managing user experience as the paradigm of a new service model where users work in a self-assisted mode.

Stage of “Conscious competence” (Today)

[User Vision]

The company is beginning to coordinate efforts in social media. I’ve always wondered the reason why social media is the first step and the truth is that this is more related to the fact that it “looks cool” from outside. And nothing more catalyst in a large organization that the need for showing a friendly face to the outside.

Marketing campaign activity begins to combine the first steps towards a performance-based model. This step is not necessarily accompanied by the correct measurement of results using digital analytics for each and every digital asset. At this moment in time, the company feels secure enough having metrics provided by the same agency that accounts for the digital media buying -mainly focused on ad inventory management. Scary, isn’t it?

The company is focused on monitoring user experience and the ongoing effort of measuring every digital asset has forced the company to make the right decisions regarding digital analytics suites. Early efforts to customize digital assets and content depending on user’s behaviour take place. Testing is a fresher discipline. The amount of data regarding digital assets cannot join in time to the old information systems responsible for measuring the traditional business. There is a major concern to adapt decisions in own-media and paid-media campaigns to a new reality where digital audience has little to do with the old segmentation exercises led from the push approach. Sadly, at this stage the company is aware of the fact that first-party data from different sources is not homogeneous. I am not talking about the forthcoming complexity related to the process of enrichment of first-party and third-party data. This task will arise when combining big data from digital sources, big data from traditional information systems and big data that has been transferred to third parties in order to make performance campaigns operative.

Initiatives trying to integrate Business Intelligence data with digital analytics data are expanding at this time. How harmful the keyword “Big Data” can be!

Intense conversations arise about the necessity to put together the most traditional IT side – backoffice- with the new ways of creating customer front which in most of the cases was never led by the IT departments. At this phase discussions about Marketing Technologists and IT Marketers become a trend. Perhaps to name this new discipline is not needed and joining together both skills in a collaborative way might be the solution. This is still to come.

At the end of this stage, the company has already decided on a new relationship among digital stakeholders. Traditional departments are questioned and interdisciplinary collaboration is sought as the only way towards digital transformation. At this point there are organizations that reinvent themselves and set up spin-offs in order to implement new ways of doing business in coexistence with the traditional governance models. It feels dizzy! What about the traditional business? Today it still represents a high stake of company’s turnover. Other companies decide to take the plunge and propose new ways of doing business. This entails accepting leaks of tremendously valuable professionals specialized in past abilities. A decisive step takes place at this time, which is to unify the decision-making process and to clear up the ever-present conflict between those who think that “we’ve done always well that way” and those who sense that the model is coming to an end. This strategic movement requires courage and dealing with high doses of uncertainty.

Stage of  “Unconscious competence” (Tomorrow)

[Interconnected Vision]

The company has found a way to put together all pieces of information. Back office systems can adapt to the changing reality and the flexibility of user’s decision-making process. Front and back are part of the same customer vision. For the first time users are granted with the same level of service regardless of the device or the person in the company they speak to.

The company has finally understood that user experience is the most important issue regarding brand delivery. Traditional sales channels collaborate easily with digital assets because no one in the company has the slightest doubt that a customer is digital. In fact, the keyword “digital” has been erased from corporate jargon and users have embraced technology as usual.

Analytics no longer surnames digital and digital information is owned by all decision makers at the company. Everyone has her or his own dashboard. Every scorecard is adapted in real time to the needs of each information user. Enterprise reporting is critical issue. A risk-taking culture has arisen and the learning curve is becoming flatter. “Test and learn” are the dynamics that change every day, every second digital assets at the company. What once was called predictive analytics is now part of the assembly. Corporate systems learn with each interaction and each user has a website, an app, a device and user interface is interchangeable and adaptable to each case. Technology is a mere facilitator and people are the sources of differentiation among competitors.

Marketing spending has a high variable cost component over sales and nobody questions the need to understand advertising as traditional or digital because tutorial content and user interaction tracking are the best sales tools. Investment in content that allows users to improve their lives is expanding. Information and data creates moments of truth in a natural way. Users choose to consume information that help them in their purchasing decision-making process and whether to buy or not is their choice. Businesses only create content that help users to make purchasing choices. As if in hindsight, mass media seems to have gained share in marketing spending and content creation is a natural extension of any branding campaign. Only this time content is generated in a different way. The quality of content and personal contribution of employees in the creation of content is what differentiates one company from another. The people are the ultimate source of differentiation.

Social networks are about conversations and social media monitoring is no longer led by social accounts but by the user given the fact that each and every one of the employees, customers, investors and shareholders are no longer anonymous. And each and every one of the stakeholders create real-time conversations that determines the final decision of a user purchasing a service of A or B. Differentiation among competitors is based on stakeholders’ conversations. Gone are CSR departments. The consistency of these conversations is what creates truth and ends tilting purchasing decisions. The people are the ultimate source of differentiation.

Old programmatic buying systems have evolved and those tech intermediaries are now owned by advertisers or publishers. Technology has united all humanity and we all create content. Both advertisers and publishers compete in a mass market of content creation where individuals are the ultimate source.There is no concern about controlling largest media OpEd because most of the published content is generated by individuals. Now publishers have started a pay-per-create content strategy and so have advertisers. And the law requires each user to recognize explicitly whenever a content creation is paid or backed by a publisher or a brand. The media are the people and the audience are the people . The people are the ultimate source of differentiation.

Corporations have thinned their structures and most of the employees work in units that distinguish their naming depending on which stage of the user’s decision-making chain they provide. Technology, Marketing, Sales, Communications, Financial, et cetera, are no longer departments.They are skills in the company and no one doubts even for a moment of their role as responsible creators of value for society. Talent, leadership and personal purpose are the drivers that trace the career of people who no longer work full time in what years ago was called corporation. Loyalty to workplaces is determined by the consistency of ideas and the contribution of corporations to the welfare of each and every one of us. Time is the new currency for employees and corporate consistency regarding mission, vision and values, the main trigger for the stock decanting time to one or another corporation. Talent and value creation differentiates people and people are the ones that create value for each company.

Digital is a facilitator and transformation is generated by the people.And certainly, the people are the ultimate source of differentiation. And we are all increasingly similar. At least we have come to realize that we are all connected.