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Think less digital transformation, more digital optimisation

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Organisations are aiming to futureproof and broaden their own technology landscape– but they should avoid focusing on innovation for innovation’s sake, says Tomas Salfischberger. When it comes to marketing technology, make the most of what you’ve got – deploy digital optimisation instead of re-engineering the entire process. Focus on software that can be integrated into mission critical systems to make sure you are getting the most out of your data; streamlining the customer journey and delivering truly personalised experiences. Here’s how:
digital optimisation digital marketing barrier

Every so often, the business world reaches a tipping point in which the methods and practices they have become so accustomed to are suddenly considered outdated and in need of upgrading. In the 90s, organisations clambered over one another to take advantage of email technology and, in a relatively short space of time, it had been adopted on a widespread scale.

We are now experiencing another shift; one of similar proportions, with businesses feeling the pressure to adopt various next-generation technologies — these range from artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, to automation and even virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). These technologies have been hot topics of debate and the general consensus is that they can help to make businesses more efficient, effective and productive, with each technology delivering its own unique set of benefits.

This positive attitude towards digital transformation is reflected in research from Capgemini, which found that 87% of companies believe digital transformation is a competitive advantage, while more than one quarter (27%) see the issue as a ‘matter of survival’.

The role of marketing technology in digital transformation

One of the business areas that is most impacted by the current wave of digital transformation is the marketing department. In recent years, marketing teams have seen a rapid increase in the number of channels and touchpoints by which they can engage with consumers. On top of this, the methods used to carry out these communications have become more sophisticated.

Marriott Hotels, for example, recently created a ‘4D tourism experience for potential customers using VR technology (see the video below). Called Teleporter, the application virtually transports users to Marriott hotels around the world, giving them a taste of what staying there in real life might be like without having to leave the comfort of their sofas. This was an innovative marketing move, and a shining example of how digital transformation can help to deliver engaging and relevant customer experiences.



Adopting state-of-the-art marketing technology before the rest of the competition can even transcend its primary purposes and help to position the brand as a technological frontrunner. Just think of the above Marriott Hotels example — not only is it a great execution of VR technology for marketing purposes, but it shows that the company prides itself on staying ahead of the technological curve. This is an attractive proposition for customers, who nowadays have higher expectations around the innovations they expect brands to be utilising.

Transformation doesn’t always equal digital optimisation

However, the rush to jump aboard the digital transformation bandwagon often causes businesses to forget the reasons why they want to transform in the first place. This can lead to huge inefficiencies: having the latest technologies in place does not automatically equal increased efficiencies and effectiveness. Instead of thinking about things strictly from a transformation perspective, they need to start thinking about optimisation.

Ultimately, before undergoing digital transformation of any kind, it is imperative that all brands consider whether the desired technologies will deliver significant improvements over what is currently in place, and if so, how? This is the fundamental question behind all sensible business decisions and should apply to anything related to digital transformation.

For example, let’s say that a brand wants to undergo digital transformation in a bid to deliver hyper-personalised communications to consumers that, in turn, help to increase customer engagement and loyalty. The brand knows that the machine learning element of AI technology can help to achieve this, so they march forward and invest a significant amount on the technology without asking any questions.

However, simply implementing AI within the wider marketing function won’t magically lead to successful personalisation. Rather, the technology needs to be applied in conjunction with high volumes of customer data (the more data available, the better) in a way that activates relevant insights for the business. Having an industry-based model with attributes key to driving conversion and retention in their industry will help marketers engage with relevant personalisation at scale.

Putting business value first

Instead of re-engineering the entire infrastructure, it’s time that businesses focused on innovation and marketing platforms that can be non-intrusively connected to their mission-critical systems and channels to ensure that marketers are getting the absolute most out of what they already have.

In order to achieve digital optimisation over digital transformation, organisations need to adopt a ‘test and learn’ approach – one that allows marketers to try out new methods and technologies in a risk-free environment while using the results to refine the final approach. By learning to walk before they start running, businesses will be far more likely to benefit from their investments.

As touched upon in the example above, being able to activate data effectively in real-time is a huge part of true personalised marketing, and the creation of profiles combining first, second and third party data needs to be the foundation for personalization at scale. This is where intelligent journey orchestration comes in.

Data management solutions can consolidate huge amounts of data and use it to orchestrate intelligent journeys based on customers’ personal preferences, hobbies and interests. The most effective platforms are agile and easy to set up, while also boasting complete flexibility in terms of the business systems and customer channels they connect with, which provides a perfect solution for those looking to squeeze the most out of the infrastructures they already have in place. Some of these solutions are also designed to be non-intrusive to the IT environment by being compatible with existing systems and current & future channels.

Moving forward with digital optimisation

There’s little doubt that organisations are transforming; trying to future-proof and grow their technology footprint. When it comes to marketing technology specifically, businesses need to look beyond the process of transformation and focus on optimisation to capitalise on the goldmine of data that they already have, combined with intelligent journey orchestration to deliver business value — there’s no value in focusing on innovation for innovation’s sake. By looking at how to activate insights from data and using it to drive true personalisation, businesses can enjoy all the benefits of successful digital transformation.

Have an opinion on this article? Please join in the discussion: the GMA is a community of data driven marketers and YOUR opinion counts.

Tomas Salfischberger
Author: Tomas Salfischberger
CEO and co-founder at Relay42 |

Tomas Salfischberger is an archetypal tech entrepreneur. In 2004, he founded his first company Celerity ICT on his 16th birthday, about two years before his Business Informatics studies. In 2011, he co-founded Relay42 after he realised that many brands were facing similar marketing challenges; disconnected customer data, legacy systems and compliance, thereby preventing brands from engaging in a compelling personalised dialogue with consumers. With Relay42, he wants to empower brands such as Air France, KLM and Thomas Cook to practice impactful, data-driven and personalised marketing that drives clear business opportunities and return on investment.

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