Having just returned from a whirlwind tour of several conferences, I can definitively state that there is deep misunderstanding of what “Digital” means among senior business executives.

“Being Digital” is not the same as having a Web site or even a site with a great Blog.

“Being Digital” is also not the same thing as having a mature Digital marketing capability.

“Being Digital” is the state of comprehensive organizational alignment designed to efficiently operate the business using seamlessly coordinated Digital and non-Digital means.

As a matter of fact, “Being Digital” means that this alignment is so profound that it is no longer a process or a struggle; it simply is. In this state, technology is so much a part of the fabric of reality that it is no more remarkable than any other aspect of the business’s operation.

The fact that Digital presence and marketing is so often mistaken for “Being Digital” causes epidemic over-estimation by executive leadership of their company’s’ Digital maturity.

Here is a sobering picture of where American business stands today (green bands indicate extent of maturity in each of the components of “Being Digital” across the business community):

  • Digital Presence: No - Yes - Quality - Purpose

  • Digital Marketing: No - Yes - Informed - Data Driven

  • Digital Company: No - Designed - Aligned - Embedded

So what does this all mean? It tells us three things:

  1. Most businesses have achieved some level of quality in their Digital presence, but have not yet made the leap to management of their digital properties that is purposefully and systematically designed to meet well-defined strategic business objectives.

  2. A smaller but significant percent of American businesses have some digital marketing capability but do not systematically use data and analytics to optimize that effort.

  3. Very few businesses have even put pen to paper to re-design their business operating model with “Being Digital” as a core operating principle.

Why is it like this? I contend that the lack of digital maturity is due to an absence of clear translation from the high level “Being Digital” idea to a transparent and actionable understanding of what makes a business digital, and the concrete steps it takes to get there.

As a result, the journey toward full executive mandate is still in early stages:

  • Sponsorship: No - Tolerate - Explore - Support - Mandate

This is a catch-22. Without C-level mandate and top-down drive, most companies struggle to develop the concrete cross-departmental plan to “Be Digital”, yet most traditional CEOs are not equipped to create that plan unilaterally, and so the status quo remains.

You may be further along than this, but as an executive, ask yourself the following key questions:

  • Do I clearly understand the difference between traditional and digital operating models, culture, personnel alignment, strategic priorities, and contextualized use of technology?

  • Has a clear, concrete, and achievable vision for “Being Digital” been articulated to the entire executive team?

If the answer to either question above is “no,” and if you have the desire to get or stay ahead of your competitors, engage professional services that will help you build the right digital future for your business. Or, read upcoming segments in this “Being Digital” series for tips on specific tactics for transforming your business.

Alex Asianov is the CEO and President of DOOR3. What are your thoughts about “Being Digital”, do you agree with Alex? Let us know.




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