Who is really in control of digital? If you don’t know, read on

In Control

Do a Google search on the above question and you’ll likely be bombarded by huge amounts of opinion pieces and research papers that extol the rise of the CIO as the true controller of the digital agenda, or maybe the CMO who has been the first customer contact and supposedly the key to unlocking the mysteries of social or perhaps even customer services, those who understand the customer best due to more physical contact.  But then we are told it is the CTO as surely digital and technology are synonymous with each other and this is the most obvious answer.  With vast amount of research studies being undertaken on the subject of Digital Transformation, we also see that the most consistent element for success of any kind of business wide Digital Transformation is the CEO.

Well, that just about covers most of the senior people on your leadership team, without even mentioning the rise of the CDO (Chief Digital Officer).

Personally we believe they are all wrong. 

Why?  The opinions above only serve to do two things:

  1. Try and solve a 21st century business problem using 20th century structures and ideas
  2. Start to cause the very thing you don’t want, that of ill perceived ownership of something that just simply doesn’t belong to you.

That’s all well and good but what is the answer?

The answer is easy, though when you first read it you’ll think we’ve led you down the garden path:

The Audience.  The audience is in control of it.  When this is understood, you can start to address the key steps you must take to begin to adapt to the changing digital world. 

Who is the Audience?  Audience can be defined as any human being that has contact with your business.  There are four main audience pillars with one new pillar emerging.

The audience pillara

In a digital world customer centricity is not enough.  The engagement, competency and capability of your workforce will determine your effectiveness in customer engagement. Equally supplier and partner relationships are becoming deeper and more experimental. The emerging audience pillar is fast becoming a strategic asset for digital businesses; The Crowd.  From design to investment, from customer support to marketing, the crowd is quickly becoming a game changer for many businesses. 

But back to the topic question:  Who is in control.  Well if the audience is in control that leaves us where?  It actually leaves us quite rightly where we should be, in a horizontal and collaborative situation.  Consider the following scenario:

The CEO has ultimate ownership and command of the vision.  That vision is the digital vision and the business vision all rolled into one. The digital strategy, usually in parallel with the business for those only just beginning their journey towards being digitally adaptive, is owned by those who control the fundamental areas supporting audience control.  The implementation and delivery of the strategy is controlled by a slightly wider team that includes communicators, influencers and advocates.

If you are writing a digital strategy ensure you bring the right people to the table at the start, but remember one thing, always have a seat for the audience. For us that means an in-depth understanding of audience journeys. This should be of equal importance at that table to those who have a physical invite.

Ensuring your business becomes audience centric to survive in a digital world means bringing the core leaders together, under the CEO’s vision to build a strategy, with the main stakeholders owning the strategy. A team effort will lead you along the path to success.