It's time to drop the 'Digital'

Digital: the mystery art that few have mastered - or so it would seem by the way that organisations continue to silo digital activity.

Digital teams are everywhere. Reaching customers online? Speak to the digital marketing team. Online customer service? Speak to the social team.

In 2016, it’s time to ditch the silos and deliver integrated teams. There will be no digital marketing - just marketing. There will be no digital technology - just technology. Digital communications team? Forget it, it will be the communications team.

Digital activities should be fully integrated into business process. Part of the fabric of the organisation. Consumers don’t think about the specifics of the channels when they are consuming content, they simply consume content. When a consumer needs to speak to an organisation, they don’t think about the difference between the phone and online - they just get in touch.

But the move from digital silos to integrated teams is a difficult one, and a common problem most organisations face is up-skilling teams to be better equipped to deliver digital activity. The result of this is a new problem: digital silos within existing teams.

David Sable, Y&R Chairman writes “We used to talk about living online and offline. But more and more, we are creating seamless paths between the two, creating a complete lifestyle, enriched and enabled by technology rather than engulfed by it.”

It’s now time for businesses to adopt that mantra - and many already have by dropping the word digital from teams and titles, and thinking about the customer and their needs, not the channels they use.

The focus for orginisations looking to improve their use of digital activity in 2016 is to get back to the core of what drives the success of the business. Marketing? Sales? Process? Digital plays a role, as do many other disciplines, but to call them out as digital roles or digital disciplines is what creates the silo in the first instance.

Expertise in digital is required, but in the context of the business as a whole. Blending commercial and operational understanding with digital discipline can be a powerful mix, and the businesses that get it right can deliver huge competitive advantage.

Our lives are digital, but we don’t separate out the parts that are and the parts that aren’t its just part of our being. In 2016, it’s time for businesses to take the same approach.

The article was originally published on the Digital Marketing Magazine website, 15th December 2015.