Behind the Buzzwords: Digital Transformation

We’re living in a marketing world that is inundated with buzzwords. Sometimes, they make sense. Other times, they’re trendy hype words that have lost their real meaning through overuse, misuse, and lack of understanding. In our new content series, Behind the Buzzwords, ANNUITAS will break down the complex jargon you see trending in go-to-market thought-leadership and help you cut through the noise to contextualize it for your organization

Where Did This Term Come From? 

Since 2020, the term Digital Transformation has become everyday lingo for a go-to-market professional. When COVID lockdowns began, many businesses realized very quickly that their sales and marketing infrastructure was out of date. The world was shifting to digital-first so fast that traditionally sales-led companies struggled to keep up.

In fact, according to a McKinsey study of 899 companies, the global average amount of digital customer interactions jumped from 36% to 58% from December 2019 to July 2020.

The status quo of in-person networking, wining-and-dining, and sales lunch dates with qualified leads was broken. Offices closed, everything went digital, and what followed was a mass migration to the digital realm for businesses young and old. “We’ve got bigger priorities right now than technology investments” quickly became, “We need to be able to function digitally, now.” and the term “digital transformation” started to gain traction in the go-to-market space. 

While the term “digital transformation” has been around since the 90’s, the pandemic brought it to the spotlight. In fact, research shows that digitization efforts at most companies were accelerated by at least three or four years. (McKinsey)

What’s the Problem?

While leaders recognize the need for digital transformation, the term is often thrown around without an understanding of what this looks like.  While many companies are investing in tech, they’re not sure what to do with it. They just knew they needed to modernize, and hoped that a suite of automation systems would suddenly fill their calendars with ultra-qualified sales leads, cementing their place as pioneers in the new digital world and staying ahead of competition. 

The reality is that technology is not the strategy.

Technology cannot help you if it’s slapped on top of poor strategy and processes—in fact it may even make things worse and cause unneeded stress on your teams. Before anything else, companies need to figure out their broader organizational approach, processes, and business goals that the technology is meant to help them meet in the first place.

“Technology is just an enabler. If you have a really good process in place, it’s going to help you automate, streamline and scale, but if you have inconsistent processes (or no process at all), it’s only going to magnify the problem.”

-Jessica Jones, Chief Growth Officer, ANNUITAS

The Right Approach

Instead of a technology band-aid, the first step in a true “digital transformation” is to take a step back and understand exactly what digital transformation looks like for your company specifically. Here are three factors to a successful digital transformation:

Internal Audit

Before jumping into digital transformation, do an internal audit on how aligned your go-to-market is to your customer. Ask yourself:

  • Do we understand our customer well?
  • Are we serving their needs appropriately?
  • Is my organization aligned around a funnel management process that supports the entire customer journey?

The last question, in particular, is key. This will help you determine what tech you need. 

Once you understand your customers’ pain points and needs, and align around a funnel management process that supports their journey, only then can you look for the right technology to support it and marry the data together to provide a personalized experience every step of the way.

Vet Your Tech

While the latest and greatest shiny new SaaS toy is tempting—is it what you need? Every new piece of technology should be run through the Litmus test of these questions: 

  • What are our goals with this tech?
  • What is our “North Star” and does this help align us to it?
  • How does it support our customer journey?

Prepare Your People

Going digital can be challenging. It’s important to understand the tech literacy of your team before dropping a new app or platform on them. A few questions to help guide this process:

The last thing you want is for employees to lose morale, leave or retire early because they feel unprepared and overwhelmed by the “digital transformation.”  Taking the time to prepare them and onboard the tech smoothly will help move your company into the digital era without losing key players.


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