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Ashok Lalla

Ashok Lalla is an Independent Digital & Marketing Advisor who helps enterprises use digital to accelerate business impact and growth.

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BW Businessworld

Moving From Doing Digital To Being Digital

Just as industrialisation changed the face of business about a hundred years ago, digitalisation is what is transforming business everywhere

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Today, almost every company and every brand has a growing digital presence and undertakes numerous digital activities to promote itself. Think websites, social media, search marketing, campaigns… e-commerce, customer service and so on.

Digital is central to virtually every marketing conversation, and quite integral to most marketing and advertising plans. Digital is also the buzzword in boardrooms, with business leaders speaking of the need for digital transformation. The reality is that not many understand what this truly means, and most end up doing lip service to digital transformation by checking off a few boxes in this journey.

What it really takes to go from just talking about digital and doing the digital drill to being digitalised is embedding digital from the core of the business and organisation outwards rather than merely applying it like a sunscreen lotion on the surface.

Doing this is by no means easy. But one needs to start somewhere, and sometime. The best time was a couple of years ago or earlier. The next best time is NOW.
If you run a business which lags behind the digital curve, here are some of the early steps you should take:

Realise that digital is a great way to reach, interact, listen to, engage and collaborate with your various audiences, both internal and external, and also to test, expand and grow your business ambitions. The limits of how much being digitalised can do for your business are only limited by your ambition and the appetite to make digital central to your business.

Get going quickly. In the case of becoming digitalised, speed is of the essence. The good news is that through smart collaborations and partnerships, and adopting plug-and-play and on-demand digital solutions, organisations can quickly rev up to the digital plate. And through this, quickly understand what is working, what is not, and so adapt and evolve.

Look for digitalising employees throughout the organisation. Apart from upskilling staff with digital skills, another oft overlooked way to build a digitalised workforce is by ensuring all replacement hires are digitally-strong. For organizations that have a staff turnover of 20-30 per cent, hiring digitalised replacements could give them a digitalised staff organically in just over three years.

Kill the silos and blur the lines between digital and non-digital roles. Businesses do not have distinct managers for print and television advertising, so why for digital? This specialised role creep is moving into other functions too. It is important to stem this siloisation of digital within organisations, and to instead make it integral to every function.

Commit to digital. In terms of leadership attention, investments and time. And in terms of everyone in the organisation embracing the new digitalised ambition and turning it from wish to fruition. Making this transformation integral to the organisation is what will work to truly digitalise the business.

Just as industrialisation changed the face of business about a hundred years ago, digitalisation is what is transforming business everywhere. It is no longer a question of if and when a business must digitalise itself. But how quickly and well it can do so.