‘Digital transformation’ courts a lot of attention these days. We have migrated from analogue to digital, VHS to DVD, and now just about every business is expected to undergo its own transformation. While the advantages of implementing a strong digital strategy are plentiful, not every transformation is a true success story. One tends to forget that the path to innovation is non-linear and that a whole host of skills, technologies, infrastructure changes and heated boardroom discussions are to be underway before an entire business can evolve with the times. 

The transformation itself can be risky and messy. In order to gain a more widespread insight into the state of digital transformation affecting the Adtech industry today, we surveyed over 200 media agencies and brands on their qualms and considerations for their businesses’ adoption of digital transformation. Respondents chimed in on the building blocks to transformation within their own organisations, as well as their greatest obstacles. When digital transformation is so wrapped up in mysticism these days, it may be best to step back and think about how we can detox our thoughts on digital transformation to date…

Creating culture

Take a moment to reflect upon the current structure of your business. Who are the decision-makers when it comes to digital transformation? Of the media agencies and brands we asked, 46% argued that the decision-making process lay with the C-Suite. In actual fact, the decision-making process should filter through the entire business in order to collate a unified vision. When just a select few decision-makers are spearheading possible change within an organisation, you risk missing out on collaborating with other potentially high-growth mindsets. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that 33% of all businesses agreed they struggle to justify investments to the board. 

27% of businesses also highlighted a “risk-averse culture” as a particular pain point when driving innovation forward. However, experimentation is a crucial part of the transformation. Startups operate with this mentality every day – but as businesses scale up, the desire to tread carefully often comes into play. An innovative business is not afraid to confront challenges, to fail fast and learn faster. This sentiment should ideally be shared by the entire company, and be a normalised aspect of culture. 

Getting resourceful

Now that culture has been embraced as a critical aspect of digital transformation, how do you get the ball rolling?  After all, the crux of ‘digital transformation’ is leveraging digital technologies to refresh and revamp a business. Many articles seem to claim digital transformation as some sort of one-stop-shop, a case of investing (heavily) in the latest, most agile technology. But for the vast majority of businesses we interviewed, issues with resourcing alone remain the two biggest obstacles to digital transformation. Leading the charge, 42% of businesses agreed they felt considerably challenged to source the right technologies to move their businesses forward. Furthermore, 34% of businesses claimed that an overall lack of time, skills and resources hinders their progress to digital transformation. A lack of resources across the board doubtless leads to an inability to experiment with new solutions, which 30% of businesses also agree has stopped them from moving forward.

Solutions to this issue will vary from business to business. But for many, this is often a case of looking at existing technologies and identifying where the pain points are, and then underlining what can be changed immediately. 

Making it cost-effective

Integrating digital transformation is a costly endeavour. When asking media agencies and brands about the financing for advanced technologies, 46% overall claimed this came out of their digital budget. Interestingly, 24% stated it was paid for by the marketing budget, followed by 20% for the ‘innovation’ budget. 

Still, an insufficient budget overall was listed as the third biggest pain point in digital transformation, tying with the inability to get the board to agree on investing. Everyone seems ready to cash in on innovative technologies without considering whether their end goal will attract a higher engagement and greater consumer focus overall. The supposed goldmine of digital transformation could, in fact, reveal itself to be a sinkhole if businesses fall into the trap of cashing in too early.

Digital transformation is rich in opportunities. It fundamentally changes business for the better. We live in an excitingly thriving and dynamic era, one in which innovation blooms rapidly and galvanises change. And yet, examining the salient barriers to digital transformation highlights a few common denominators. Issues with finance, culture, and resources stand at the forefront of these challenges, and while they may seem troublesome on the surface, businesses should not shy away from facing the future head-on. Your business is already transforming, just ensure you take a step back every once in a while to evaluate your strategy and give it a little detox.