For many businesses, digital transformation has become a huge priority and the need for a strong digital strategy cannot be ignored.
As part of our Business Leaders interview series, ProfileTree CEO Ciaran Connolly sat down with Natalie Haccius, a professional digital transformation consultant.
In the interview, she discusses the importance of having a digital strategy for your business, and how technological advancements have seen the industry go to brand new heights.
Check out the full interview below, and read on to see the interview highlights.
Table of Contents
From Hollywood Blockbusters to Digital Transformation: Natalie’s Journey
Natalie’s journey is not like any other. Now working as a professional digital consultant – she fell into the digital realm by accident.
Her interest in the digital world was sparked after being on hiatus from making Hollywood movies.
“I used to work in the film business as a production coordinator working on Hollywood movies like Braveheart, In the Name of Love and all these sorts of studio films. I greatly enjoyed it, it was high pressure working in a multi-disciplinary team. I say that for a reason because it made me be able to think on my feet and look at crisis management very quickly.
“But there’s a lot of downtime and gaps in between. Sometimes you could have three or four months where you’re not working.”
As a result of her boredom, Natalie decided to venture into something different. What initially caught her attention was the creativity, ownership and versatility that comes with the digital field.
“I got totally hooked in the digital field when I saw the autonomy that people could have. Suddenly they could self-publish, tell their own story and be in control as opposed to offline media where you are literally handing over your product or yourself to an agency.
“Moving on, I decided this was for me. I went in as a project manager into a multimedia agency and worked using all my skills from the film business but in a multimedia capacity, from events to interactive media. It was always varied – text, imagery, video – it was great fun.
“Now I work as a contractor for multinationals and people looking to transform their products. I love helping businesses to work out their strengths, their weaknesses, and how to make that transformation into a digital dichotomy.”
Natalie works on a freelance basis which provides her with a wide range of experience working in different sectors of business industries. It has also taken her around the world with just returning from Switzerland working with the IMD Business School’s marketing department for five months.
In her now 15 years of experience, Natalie has seen digital transformation for businesses go from a static website for a business to technology advances allowing businesses to digitally transform even further.
Natalie’s Advice on Digital Transformation
While digital transformation is a core part of almost every business’s journey, it is still a journey where different businesses are faced with different problems.
Natalie encourages digital transformation, as businesses will struggle without it. Where businesses may have worries, Natalie has solutions.
“I very much think that companies can get completely overwhelmed, thinking ‘how are we going to compete with giants like Amazon?’. The answer is that you cannot compete, but you can look at some of their processes and see how best you can do that – or aspire to try and do what Amazon is doing. Taking one or two of these nuggets and putting them into your own business processes, you’re already onto a winner.”
Natalie also advises that it is important that you do not try to please everyone apart from your core customer base.
“You also cannot be all things to all men. That comes from anyone working in the digital realm – I think it’s really important to be hugely critical of what you are offering as a business. To see if there’s anything you can change, anything you are driving and not your customer.
“At the end of the day, your value as a business is how closely aligned it is to what the customer wants. If you can answer the question of ‘why should I buy from you?’ and it’s coming from the needs of the customer and not the needs of the business – you are already on the right road.”
Challenges Businesses Face Without Digital Strategy
Not having a digital strategy is one of the main faults businesses can make if they are wanting to succeed, says Natalie.
“I think if they don’t have a clear plan they assume what the customer wants. Google and Facebook are rich for a reason – they have a lot of businesses putting a lot of money on their platforms. You need to do a deep dive into who you are targeting digitally and why. Especially for a small business that’s niche – that is where the value is, if you want to know your customer, the only way of doing that is to have a digital strategy.”
According to Natalie, your customers are your key to success – not your product.
“Customers will give you insights into your business. That’s where having an external person come in is so good and refreshing, as they can see things that you can’t.”
Latest Digital Adoption Statistics by Country and Industry (2023):
- Internet Users: 5.42 billion (67.8% of global population) (DataReportal, October 2023)
- Mobile Internet Users: 5.33 billion (66.2% of global population) (DataReportal, October 2023)
- Social Media Users: 4.70 billion (58.7% of global population) (DataReportal, October 2023)
- Top 3 Countries by Internet Penetration: 99%+ penetration in Denmark, Iceland, Norway (World Bank, 2022)
- Fastest Growing Internet Penetration: Rwanda, Madagascar, Guinea-Conakry (World Bank, 2022)
- Top 3 Countries by Mobile Penetration: 100%+ penetration in Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain (GSMA, 2023)
- E-commerce: Global e-commerce market size to reach $9 trillion by 2025 (Statista, 2023)
- Financial Services: 80% of global banks have adopted digital banking platforms (Fintech Global, 2023)
- Healthcare: Telehealth usage increased by 38% globally in 2022 (Accenture, 2023)
- Education: Online learning market size expected to reach $350 billion by 2025 (Global Market Insights, 2023)
- Digital Adoption Index (DAI) by World Bank: Provides country-level digital adoption scores across various dimensions.
- Global Digital Report by We Are Social and Hootsuite: Comprehensive annual report on global internet and social media trends.
- Statista: Leading database of market research and industry statistics.
- GSMA Mobile Economy Report: Insights on mobile technology adoption and usage worldwide.
Note: These are just a few examples, and the specific statistics will vary depending on the chosen country, industry, and source. Be sure to use reputable and up-to-date sources when citing statistics.
Framework and Checklist for a Digital Strategy Aligned with Company Vision:
1. Vision and Mission Alignment:
- Define your company’s vision: What do you aspire to be in the long term?
- Identify your core values: What principles guide your organization’s decisions and actions?
- Analyze your current digital landscape: Assess your online presence, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis).
- Align your digital strategy with your vision and values: Ensure your digital goals and initiatives support your overall aspirations and principles.
2. Customer Focus:
- Identify your target audience(s): Who are you trying to reach online?
- Understand their needs, pain points, and online behavior: Conduct user research to gain insights into their preferences and expectations.
- Develop customer personas: Create detailed profiles of your ideal customers to guide your digital efforts.
- Define customer journeys: Map out the touchpoints your customers have with your brand online and offline.
3. Goal Setting and Strategic Initiatives:
- Set SMART goals: Ensure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
- Focus on key digital transformation areas: Consider areas like e-commerce, marketing automation, customer relationship management (CRM), and data analytics.
- Develop specific initiatives for each area: Define concrete actions and projects to achieve your goals.
- Prioritize initiatives based on impact and feasibility: Focus on initiatives that will have the most significant impact on your business and can be implemented within your resources and timeframe.
4. Implementation and Measurement:
- Develop a clear implementation plan: Define roles, responsibilities, timelines, and resources needed for each initiative.
- Choose the right digital tools and platforms: Select solutions that align with your goals, budget, and technical capabilities.
- Establish key performance indicators (KPIs): Track progress towards your goals and measure the effectiveness of your digital initiatives.
- Monitor, analyze, and adapt: Regularly review your data, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your strategy as needed.
- Vision and Mission Alignment:
- Is the vision statement clearly defined?
- Core values identified?
- Was the SWOT analysis completed?
- Digital strategy aligned with vision and values?
- Customer Focus:
- Target audience(s) identified?
- Customer needs and behavior understood?
- Customer personas developed?
- Customer journeys mapped?
- Goal Setting and Strategic Initiatives:
- SMART goals set?
- Key digital transformation areas identified?
- Specific initiatives defined for each area?
- Initiatives prioritized based on impact and feasibility?
- Implementation and Measurement:
- Implementation plan developed?
- Right tools and platforms chosen?
- KPIs established?
- Data regularly monitored and analyzed?
- Strategy adapted based on findings?
Driving Buy-In at Scale: Change Management Approaches for Success
Implementing large-scale change can be daunting, especially when it comes to securing buy-in from a diverse workforce. Here are some effective change management approaches to overcome resistance and foster widespread adoption:
1. Transparency and Communication:
- Clear Vision and Purpose: Clearly communicate the “why” behind the change, aligning it with the company’s overall vision and values.
- Open and Honest Communication: Foster two-way dialogue, address concerns openly, and provide regular updates to keep everyone informed.
- Targeted Communication: Tailor communication channels and messages to different employee segments based on their needs and preferences.
2. Building Commitment:
- Stakeholder Involvement: Involve key stakeholders from different departments early in the process to gain their support and ownership.
- Champion the Change: Identify and empower change champions who can advocate for the new initiative and inspire others.
- Incentivize Participation: Offer incentives, like rewards or recognition, to motivate employees to embrace the change.
3. Addressing Resistance:
- Identify Resistance Triggers: Understand the concerns and anxieties of employees to address them proactively.
- Provide Training and Support: Offer comprehensive training and support to equip employees with the skills and knowledge needed for the change.
- Empathy and Openness: Listen actively to feedback, acknowledge concerns, and demonstrate empathy towards those resistant to change.
4. Sustaining Momentum:
- Celebrate Successes: Recognize and celebrate milestones and achievements to keep everyone motivated.
- Continuous Feedback and Improvement: Gather feedback regularly, identify areas for improvement, and adapt the change as needed.
- Embedding the Change: Integrate the new practices into everyday workflows and processes to ensure long-term sustainability.
- Leverage Data and Storytelling: Use data and compelling stories to showcase the benefits of the change and create a sense of urgency.
- Pilot Programs and Early Wins: Implement pilot programs in smaller groups to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of the change before scaling up.
- Personalization and Choice: Offer employees some level of personalization or choice within the new framework to increase buy-in.
The End of Digital Marketing?
Natalie discusses the end of ‘digital marketing’ and how we need to adopt a new attitude to the term.
“If you want to get me on my high horse – I would say there’s no such thing as digital marketing anymore.
“I believe that marketing in a digital economy is marketing. There is no barrier. The customer doesn’t see a barrier or that they’re buying a product online or offline – they just see your business.
“But how ready are you to make that journey across channels as frictionless as possible? It’s about survival – the ones that do not change are not going to make it. The ones that survive are the ones that understand their customers are king.”
Throughout the rest of the interview, Natalie discusses brand loyalty, how audiences interact with businesses now digitally, and how this affects their digital strategy moving forward. Check out our interview with Natalie in full to hear more.
Q: What are the biggest challenges in driving buy-in for large-scale change?
- Lack of clarity and communication: Employees need to understand the “why” behind the change and how it will impact them.
- Resistance to change: Fear of the unknown, perceived job insecurity, and lack of trust in leadership can lead to resistance.
- Poor implementation and communication: Inadequate training, unclear processes, and inconsistent communication can derail the change effort.
Q: How can I identify potential resistance to change?
- Formal surveys and feedback sessions.
- Informal conversations and open-door policies.
- Monitoring employee sentiment through social media and internal communication channels.
Q: What are some tips for overcoming resistance to change?
- Address concerns head-on and provide honest answers.
- Offer training and support to help employees adapt to the new way of working.
- Involve employees in the change process and give them a voice.
- Celebrate successes and milestones to keep everyone motivated.
Q: How can I ensure the change is sustainable in the long term?
- Integrate the new practices into everyday workflows and processes.
- Continuously monitor and adapt the change based on feedback and data.
- Reinforce the benefits of the change and keep employees engaged.
Driving buy-in for large-scale change is not an easy feat, but it is essential for success. By adopting a comprehensive change management approach that focuses on transparency, communication, building commitment, and addressing resistance, you can significantly increase your chances of achieving widespread adoption and ensuring long-term success. Remember, change is a journey, not a destination.
Be patient, persistent, and adapt your approach as needed to guide your employees through the process and embrace the new way of working.
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