The First Steps to Future Readiness

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Having a clear vision and an understanding of digital capability will set brands on the path to success. Liam Brennan and Pete Fyfe, Joint Heads of Blink Consulting, explain.

It’s easy to be distracted in our business. Slick words from marketing ‘thought leaders’; award-winning work from competitors and the excitement of emerging opportunities such as the metaverse, are all designed to tempt us from the path of marketing virtue.

In truth, the best guide to the future direction of your marketing organisation lies much closer to home. The path to success begins with self-awareness: knowing what you have; what you need to evolve; and who you can lean on to deliver a shared vision for the future.

Many companies have been held back when it comes to moving forward on digital capability by three key issues: lack of cross-functional integration, the democratisation of customer data, and the absence of critical skill sets. They all contribute to a lack of action.

Overcoming such challenges requires both self-awareness and a plan for the future.

Having clarity on the vision is the first step for most brands, ensuring that the direction of travel is truly aligned with business objectives and is understood by marketing teams.

Once they have that vision, marketing leaders can pinpoint areas where their capability needs to change, either to take advantage of new opportunities, or to plug deficiencies in how they operate today.

Our experience of developing new capabilities with our clients tells us that the best way to develop this model is to address the six key areas identified by our Digital Capability Framework.

Fig 1: The Digital Capability Framework


Developing insights

The next step is to draw on a combination of quantitative data analysis as well as qualitative inputs from surveys, workshops and interviews in order to help clients understand their own organisations better.

This process enables them to address hard truths on key questions such as: Is there misalignment between functions; do they have the right technology to fulfil their strategy; how is data used across the organisation and so forth.

Armed with these insights, marketing leaders can work with their stakeholders to prioritise change initiatives based on vision, value, cost and impact. This ensures time and effort is invested into a roadmap of initiatives that are aligned to wider objectives and actually drive the business forward.

This approach has helped many of our clients, regardless of industry, scale, or digital maturity, because it is grounded in their reality, and doesn’t strive to deliver peak digital capability where it’s just not required.

Three positive outcomes

Client A identified streamlining opportunities within a fragmented multi-market delivery model.

Client A plays in a ‘fast-paced’ entertainment vertical, competing against other innovative global brands, across multiple markets. Its vision was underpinned by a set of strategic initiatives to be implemented in local markets but inconsistencies at the point of execution meant that the full value of the initiatives could not be realised.

The Digital Capability Assessment identified opportunities to remove inconsistencies and realise efficiency gains over an 18-month period, via the consolidation of common functions, consolidated data and reporting, and a reprioritisation of initiatives to support cost pressures in local market teams. The programme delivered a 30% increase in operational efficiency across impacted functions.

Client B identified a significant opportunity to increase marketing ROI through digital transformation.

Client B was undergoing a period of transformation and wanted to understand how digital could help it become a more effective and efficient marketing function. Working with their marketing leaders, we focused a Digital Capability Assessment on functions supporting consumer insight, brand communications, and direct-to-consumer commerce.

The assessment led to plans for improvements in the utilisation of the marketing technology stack that will realise more value from marketing operations and brand communications. The three-year digital transformation roadmap promises to deliver a potential ROI increase of 30%.

Client C identified a right-housed approach to the delivery of their digital media investment.

Client C was planning to rationalise digital media buying arrangements and identified a possible efficiency gain through in-housing of automated media investment. Working with the client’s digital team, we delivered a Digital Capability Assessment focussed on process, people and media.

This identified a clear skills gap within the client organisation. When we modelled the investment in new resources required to deliver a new in-housed capability, the expected investment was too high to realise the targeted efficiency gain.

Instead, we designed a right-housed model to support efficiency gains within the budgets available. This change has led to a 100% increase in automated media investment globally and creation of a learning agenda to support development of programmatic excellence at the client.

Getting ready for bumps in the road

These examples are all very different but all benefited from building self-awareness before starting initiatives to change their digital capability. That process enabled each roadmap to be tailored directly to their individual challenges.

These exercises aren’t one-offs, however. Understanding what value has been delivered requires a measurement plan against agreed KPIs, a means to course correct if value isn’t realised as expected, and the ability to adapt strategy in response to any digital disruption.

Our framework enables marketing leaders to navigate the future with confidence, making the right choices based on a clear understanding of the capabilities currently at their disposal and where to focus investment in order to be ready for tomorrow’s challenges.

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