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Digital Innovation with Control …

“Adopt new technologies effectively or face competitive obsolescence. While there is consensus on the importance of adopting digital technology, most employees find the process complex and slow”

This quote from MIT succinctly articulates the challenge organisations are undergoing in this era of digital transformation. Basically get onboard and move with the new times or you will lose touch with your customers and disappear into the history books.

So what makes Digital Innovation so different from any other technology advancements?

The main shift is in the focus of innovation technology providers. Technologists are targeting their products or services to Marketeers as opposed to their IT counterpart.

Why are they doing this?

The main reason is that these providers have realised that there has been a real wake up call particularly in retail caused by a number of high profile households names such as Comet, Blockbuster, Jessops disappearing from the high street.

Organisation leaders eyes are now open with the recognition that customers today are different. They are tech savvy, they want to shop their way when they want. There is a customer expectation that shopping should be a tailored experience designed with their best interests at heart.

The embodiment of these expectations is digital and it is Marketeers that are most eager to explore the opportunities that technology innovation provides.

How is it possible to sell technology solutions to a Marketing audience without IT?

Besides the obvious fact that these technology innovators are creating engaging and sexy products that capture the interest of Digital Marketing, they have also realised that in order to leverage the here and now, you need to implement and demonstrate its value quickly or the opportunity is lost and the world had moved on again with something more engaging and more sexy!

They have therefore tackled the biggest issue with new technology – integration. Most Innovation providers have made it so easy to essentially plug ‘n’ play their technology into a E-commerce or digital web platform with minimal IT involvement.

It is this simplification that has forced a convergence in areas of responsibilities between Marketing/ E-Commerce and IT in organisations across the sector.

So the answer to the question: What makes this so different from any other technology advancements?

Is simply: Marketeers and E-Commerce leaders are now empowered to make technology decisions.

So, what is the downside of digital innovation?

By empowering Marketeers to make technology decisions raises the issue of IT experience. Most E-Commerce and Marketeers lack the experience that IT have with technology suppliers. These include non-sexy but vital due-diligence such as:

Performance on the platform – website is too slow
Escalation and SLA process –if things go wrong
Customer Data Security
This often plays into the hands of the innovation provider as these vital concerns often go unanswered by the mere fact that they are not even asked. I have witnessed first hand some of theses innovation providers bringdown websites or erode site performance over time. IT are expected to fix these issues even though they have not been part of the decision making process.

Innovation vs Control

At Digital Fabrique, we have experienced these challenges and the natural tension is causes between IT & E-Commerce/ Marketing. The perception basically is:

Marketing: “IT are hindering our speed to test new innovation products in the market because their processes are too slow. They are using a sledge hammer to crack a nut”

IT: ” There is no control, visibility or due-diligence on the platform, we are firefighting with issues caused by 3rd parties we didn’t even know about… it’s like the WILD WILD WEST”

So what is the answer?

Simply put, its’s about implementing “controlled innovation”. It is about addressing the concerns of IT whilst ensuring marketing are still empowered to innovate at speed. It is possible to breakdown the solution into 4 key components

Communication & Visibility – Implementing a simple but effective workflow process, keeping everyone informed.
Control – Keeping the governance lean but effective by keeping documentation & approval process light.
Adopting an Agile way of working- The only was to onboard new 3rd party providers & perpetually adopt a mindset of “test->learn-adapt” is by creating highly functional cross departmental teams empowered to make decisions.
Civilise the wild wild west- Tidy up the providers code on the web platform by consolidating them into one place where it can be monitored & controlled.

ARTICLES , 27 September 2014