Is Your Business Ready for a Digital Future?
This is the question posed by the recent issue of MIT Sloan Management Review
The article begins with an example of digital readiness or, as the authors calls it, “digital business maturity.”
The setting is the 2015 Super Bowl football game where the most expensive and choice advertising spots are to be found. Now the camera zooms in on a digital newsroom that McDonalds assembled to carry out their ambitious marketing plan. The basis for the plan is very different from the usual delivery of messages and focus on persuasion.
During the game, McDonald’s Corp would give away items that tied-in to the commercials aired. There was a twist however. McDonald’s managers did not know ahead of time what these commercials were about. This meant that they would have to make decisions about which products would be given away instantaneously, in real time. They would have to decide on the spot which products to give away to maximize brand exposure and business objectives, and determine the legality of the gifts. Some products, such as alcohol for example, would be illegal to give away. And all this meant that a cross functional team would have to collaborate closely. It would include marketing and legal experts, employees from various departments and a variety of business partners--people who never before had a reason to come together on a project.
The company got the ball rolling on Twitter:
So you may want to join us during the game—we're taking Lovin' to a whole different level!
3:57 PM - 1 Feb 2015
A chain of tweets was thus started that reacted to each new commercial.
6:42 PM-1 Feb 2015
McDonald's team would be monitoring the tweets to gauge reactions and use them as the basis of decision-making.
So what were the results and implications of this highly successful effort?
- McDonalds tapped digital technology not just to enhance delivery but to re-define marketing and advertising as a collaborative process that unfolded in real time
- It provided a powerful purpose for people to come together as a community and collaborate for a shared goal and outcome.
The article quotes Lainey Garcia, manager of brand reputation and public relations at McDonald’s, as saying:
“I think for me, the biggest takeaway was the power of integration. You can accomplish amazing things when you have all those pieces working together collectively in a holistic way, and when you’re putting all of your resources together. I really think it’s almost what Ray Kroc, our founder, would always say, ‘None of us is as good as all of us together.’”
There is another important implication here. McDonald understood and tapped imaginatively the potential in technology. But by doing so, they were transformed themselves—changing the way they thought about and conducted business.
Are you ready to operate and thrive in the digital environment? Simply applying a digital strategy is not enough the authors maintain. It is the way one thinks about and applies technology that matters. And this involves, among other things:
- A different mindset: being able to understand the potential that can be extracted from technology and its implications; ability to actually visualize the future of one’s business when leveraging the transformative potential of technology.
- Taking risks: This characterizes, not just actions, but a mindset of curiosity, experimentation and innovation that transcends industries and functions. B. Bonin Bough, senior VP and chief media and e-commerce officer for Mondelez International Inc. is quoted:
“They’ve been able to unlock something that’s a totally new mindset and approach. Part of it is the notion of iteration, this notion of constantly reinventing the core constantly and cannibalizing what you did before, and the fear that their space moves so fast that you can’t sit and wait. We [non-tech tech companies have to begin to bring that attitude into our businesses.
Culture that will allow experimentation and collaboration outside silos
New capabilities: Digital maturity. Organizations have to acquire and develop new digital capabilities that go far beyond technical expertise. What is needed is the ability to understand how to leverage the potential of technology.
Technologies will be changing, note the authors, but “business success will depend less on the technologies themselves—and more on your company’s ability to implement them innovatively by re-thinking strategy, culture and talent.”