Sylvia Jensen
Sylvia Jensen 8 August 2018

How company culture is the biggest factor holding back digital execution

What's the biggest thing holding back marketers from executing their digital strategies? Budget? Skills? Technology? In this article, Sylvia Jensen argues that it's something much more worrying — culture.

Success in digital depends on a huge number of factors. You need to attribute the right budget to it to ensure it succeeds, and the team around you need to have the right skills to make sure they can execute on digital strategies, and of course, you need to have the right technology infrastructure in place.

But, one of the biggest barriers with regards to digital isn’t necessarily lack of budget or lack of skills. It’s something much more serious — lack of the right company culture.

In fact, one of Acquia’s latest pieces of research has shown that company culture is the biggest factor holding back digital success, which is creating a huge gap between those who devise digital strategies and the ability for the organisation to execute on those strategies.

Half of heads of digital believe they lack digital strategy support from team members and those in other departments, and, worryingly, more than one in three (37%) say they lack support from their own board. Compare these stats to other types of barriers — only 36% of heads of digital state lack of skills is a problem, whilst 21% claim lack of budget is the issue.

Not being able to execute on digital strategy is a downward spiral. Half-heartedly doing some digital activity will result in failure, which ultimately dissatisfies the board, meaning less budget towards digital and a disbelief in its ability. But when done properly, digital execution has shown time and time again to be a successful revenue generator for business.

It’s therefore no wonder heads of digital are becoming progressively frustrated with their company's culture towards digital. Clearly digital has a people problem in the business world, and though larger businesses have the money and the skills to execute on digital properly, the unwillingness to pull together is holding back progress.

The ability for organisations to jump on modern trends like personalisation and multi-channel marketing is hindered by this culture problem. 48% of digital leaders claim that the main reason they cannot personalise properly is because they do not know enough about the users that visit their website. And almost half (47%) say the biggest challenge with multi-channel marketing is not being able to keep content up to date.

A possible reason culture is causing an issue could be that the legacy technology businesses have in place make executing a joined up digital experience difficult — particularly on a global level. A sleek, modern digital setup that makes managing a brand simple is key to encouraging employees to start thinking digital first, rather than digital as a secondary addition.

What heads of digital can do to improve company culture

Changing company culture isn’t going to happen overnight, but here are a few tips to get the ball rolling.

First, engage your employees through easy digital processes, not giving them a reason to continue working in the old way of doing things. By doing this you will see a change in your company’s culture and by updating your legacy technology you will making engaging with your team far easier.

Secondly, take the time to demonstrate the value of digital to your board of directors. Showcase successful digital transformation stories, highlighting how this has improved margins and customer loyalty. Take inspiration for this from other departments or competitors. By doing all of this you will see a vast improvement in everyone’s perceptions of digital, which in return generates a better company culture, a greater pull for new talent and skills, plus an increase in the budget to execute successful digital strategies.

Marketers certainly know the value of digital, but often getting the board to agree its value is sometimes difficult — and company culture starts at the top. But by positioning digital as something that will lower business risk, provide a base from which the company can grow, and a way to cut the cost of legacy technology, it’ll only be a matter of time before the board comes around, and the culture of the business can change for the better.

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