July 11, 2013

Managing Digital Teams for Success

James Giese UWEBC Communications Director

kim-merkle“Executives expect that new digital technologies will transform their businesses, but many admit their companies are far from prepared to develop capabilities and meet challenges,” says Steve Duesbury, Solution Lead of Digital Strategy and Transformation at Acquity Group.
Digital operations can provide increased opportunities for organizations to increase market share and sales capacity through a greater ease of doing business; however, few businesses are able to properly organize their digital strategy to overcome several challenges that accompany the digital age.

In the UWEBC Web and Multichannel Marketing Peer Group meeting on July 11, Duesbury detailed the central challenges of digital organization and solutions to maximize an organization's sales capacity online.

Duesbury highlighted the following key challenges of digital operations: understanding who owns what; building the structure of digital operations; deciding what to do in the next year; managing how digital operations interact with other business units; and deciding where digital operations should ’live’ in the organization.

To address these challenges (and ultimately tap into the limitless opportunities of digital), Duesbury emphasizes the importance of shifting culture from a focus on individual technologies, people, and projects to a focus on change—reaching “everyone, everywhere with speed and agility.”

“Digital is changing products and services to portfolios and solutions; selling to solving; marketing to engaging; technologies to capabilities; and web sites to practices that digitize every aspect of the business,” said Duesbury. merkle-presentation

To drive sustainable advantage in digital operations, Duesbury outlined four steps to align the digital strategy with actionable practice (see figure to the left):

1. Develop a Digital Business Strategy. Start with the overall corporate strategy and an understanding of the gaps between the organization's current state and the end goal. Duesbury recommends starting with a strategic revenue goal of generating 50% of total company revenue online.

2. Define Digital Business Capabilities. Define the functions of the digital business and match these with business capabilities. What are key capabilities of the business (driving traffic, answering customer questions, ownership, etc.) and how do these interact?

3. Identify Digital Roles and Opportunities. What roles and structure will help carry out the needed business capabilities? Companies should take the time to define roles and determine where they currently reside in the digital organizational structure. “Enable your strategy with program and project managers who will align digital with what goes on in marketing, sales, service, and other business units,” says Duesbury.

4. Assign the Digital Business to the Correct People. Once the company has established business capabilities and opportunities, assign titles to the structure. Duesbury suggests, “Create small, focused teams with highly functional program management and governance structures.”

Agility and transformational shifts are central to digital team structure, and management should understand these shifts as it constantly changes to keep up with new digital developments. Defining a framework to cultivate an organization’s digital strategy and amending that framework to fit the constantly changing digital trends lays the foundation for a successful and profitable digital team.

Successful implementation of this strategy requires a large cultural shift to “thinking transformational, not incremental.” For example, Duesbury says, “the working business value of a channel shift is $5 per transaction or 2-3% cost efficiency.” Since “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” Duesbury recommends a clean break from the existing corporate culture to create a proof-of-concept opportunity for digital success.

Although it can be a dramatic change, he supports establishing an entirely new office dedicated to digital operations or creating an entirely new digital business funded by corporate, but independent in operations.

After transforming a digital team organization to nurture the change and priorities of digital, companies can focus on using that new digital team to increase market share and sales capacity. As Duesbury says, “Shoot for the horizon. Aim very far in front of the curve so you can plan toward it.”

Member companies can access Mediasite recording and other meeting materials>>

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