Media Transformation Roadmap 2021
A digital blueprint for optimising customer engagement. This report summarises a meeting BrightGen ran with business leaders of 18 media companies.
Media Transformation Roadmap 2021:
A Digital Blueprint for Optimising Customer Engagement
1. Introduction: A Meeting of Minds
Leaders in the media industry gathered to discuss digital transformation in 2021.
BrightGen, Salesforce and The Executive Network (TEN) invite 18 senior leaders to discuss what 2021 holds for the media industry
Matt Parkes, BrightGen customer and VP Sales and Marketing Technology at Elsevier, kicked off the session with an overview of his company’s digital journey. Matt then sparked the initial discussion among the group with a series of questions.
BrightGen, Salesforce and TEN encouraged the group to discuss the state of digital transformation at their organisations, and to share recommendations for each other going into 2021.
Some say that technology is the easy part of digital transformation. The complexities lie in organisational culture and silos. How do you build cross-functional influence and gain top-level buy-in to get transformations off the ground? How has your approach to this changed during 2020?
Matt Parkes, VP Sales and Marketing Technology, Elsevier
How important is digital transformation for customer engagement at your organisation?
- Very important
- Not very important
This report outlines of the findings of the group's discussion. The summary includes a roadmap for 2021: a digital blueprint for optimising customer engagement.
2. A Case Study: Elsevier
A Three-Year Transformation
Three years ago, Elsevier agreed that their customer-facing teams needed digital transformation. They wanted every customer to be able to say:
"Elsevier knows my business, anticipates our needs and demonstrates commitment to our success"
When they reviewed the state of the business at the time, Elsevier uncovered several technology issues. Namely:
They had tooling that wasn’t fit for purpose
They were using a complex and clunky Siebel system
Account managers were working from a series of offline spreadsheets
Account managers did not have enough time to reflect and engage with the customer because of manual processes.
Without changing their process soon, Elsevier recognised the potential problems to grow.
Organisational change needed to happen in order for Elsevier to become truly customer-centric.
Elsevier mobilised a change programme, which they named the Salesforce modernisation programme. They intended this to take them into the modern world, both in terms of technological and organisational change. This would be the way they could truly invest in their customers’ success.
Today, Elsevier has an ecosystem based on the Salesforce platform and integrations, allowing them to continue building a one-stop shop. There are no spreadsheets or anything offline. Everything happens on the platform. The benefits are numerous:
Better customer experience
Employees saving time
Move more rapidly, with the facility to add more integrations to continuously evolve
Five tips for digital transformation
1. Build the right team
Building the right team (including internal and external partners) enables you to optimise dashboards and data warehouse solutions to drive the insights you'll need.
Elsevier used a consulting partner to drive programme management and their change management work stream. They used BrightGen as the best-in-class partners for delivery.
"Some say that technology is the easy part of digital transformation. The complexities lie in organisational culture and silos."
Matt Parkes, Head of Sales & Marketing Technology, Elsevier
2. Get ahead of the change
Elsevier used their partners’ support to map out the key activities that would get their stakeholders up the change curve.
This would move them from anticipating change to being committed to it.
3. Focus on the insights
Do this from day one. Instead of leading with reports, Elsevier started to lead with insights from their data.
They built new Tableau dashboards and used prototyping to understand what would be valuable to different people. They could then use that to challenge the need for the inputs.
Elsevier became a spreadsheet-free zone.
With reporting solely on the platform, visualisations became so sophisticated, users were blown away.
4. Push for early adopters
When you are rolling out to 1500 users, there is value in setting up a small group (Elsevier’s was 180 users) to test this out first.
To roll this out, Elsevier hired temps to test the key data points to ensure the systems were kept in sync.
5. Enable self-serve support
On the day they went live, Elsevier's local champions throughout the customer-facing teams responded to questions. They needed them to support the experience in general.
They used Salesforce Chatter, which made the support experience stronger. It also helped the technology team to focus on the problems where they could really add value.
How many of Elsevier's five steps have you achieved?
- All five!
3. Meeting Q&A: Discussion Highlights
18 media executives were asked about their own digital transformations. They shared their learning from 2020 with the group.
To achieve your digital vision, how do you manage up as well as down during the period of change?
The group agreed that both managing down and up during this time of change is amplified in a remote working environment. They found both had become harder but had found new ways of working to adapt quickly. The most important answer to this question was communication.
"Strong leadership is required at all levels, and people need supporting with empathy."
If leaders have a strong vision, their change plan will trickle down throughout the organisation. The group's suggestions to enable this, based on their experience, included:
- Cross-functional advisory groups are useful to get quick feedback and disseminate new initiatives faster with buy-in from across the business
- Have town hall meetings across the whole company on a monthly basis to enable cross-departmental understanding
- Bring in people from other departments for weekly meetings
- Be transparent on the numbers tied to the business goals across internal departments and with external commercial partners.
One organisation suggested using employee feedback surveys to manage digital vision from the bottom up. They used the top three challenges that came out of their employee surveys to create engagement groups with people from different levels, across different teams.
Reverse mentoring is a good way to connect junior and senior colleagues. It also allows for more frequent feedback about senior colleagues, providing it can be done honestly.
Has the shock of COVID created more of an appetite for change?
The shock was of course profound, and the group widely agreed that the initial change was hard to manage. For example, one organisation cancelled 70% of its advertising campaigns in one week. However, their organisations did understand the need for change.
One organisation had managed to produce a newspaper and a website with all staff working remotely, and had found it liberating.
"The media industry has been turned upside down and nothing can be taken for granted. There has been a spirit of togetherness and this has manifested in providing good support for clients and for each other."
It’s a matter of necessity versus desire: the appetite may not have increased but the need has been enormous.
We are constantly evolving now. Even if the vision and strategy changes, there will still be the feeling that more is needed. For example, the back office has not changed as much as the front, and that needs to happen. This is more difficult if decision-making processes have not yet changed. Furthermore, there is a necessity to be agile and to optimise the market that we’re in. We need to facilitate decision-making without rushing to do something that we’ll regret later.
The positive thing about 2020 is that it showed the art of the possible. We have achieved so much this year, such as health hubs and supporting the battle against COVID. Of course, we must not forget how tough it’s been. We need to find a way to handpick the great things from 2020 and combine them with the best parts of the old world.
How did COVID affect your digital transformation plans in 2020?
- Slowed them down
- Didn't change them
- Increased the need for speed
Systems, behaviour and process: is there a particular priority? How do they work together?
Consider what customers want. They select a product, then a partner, then begin. While they’re doing that, they need to look at processes, people, and what needs to change.
People and processes need amending more than the technology. Technology companies should be an enabler of the change to which the customer has already committed. Business partners such as BrightGen can guide you, so make use of their expertise.
Find out how BrightGen can help
Finding a perfect blend of systems and process is the dream, so think outside the box.
Take opportunities to challenge the status quo on processes and focus on standardising and streamlining.
If the behaviours are wrong, then your technology investment will be compromised.
"Concentrate on culture, behaviours, and the softer things."
These three elements will generate your benefits, and take the organisation to the next step. They can each be led by different people. Therefore, you need to work out how to integrate them, and how they can be relevant across the teams.
You may start off with company-wide values and behaviours. But you’ll need to go back and refine what those values actually mean based on what actions are needed, what needs to change, and how to motivate people to get involved. It’s a process of constant refinement.
4. A Summary: Media in 2021
Media consumption changed in 2020, with organisations pivoting accordingly. But there’s more to be done...
How do you transform to drive greater customer engagement, create the best sales model, and optimise value for 2021 and beyond?
According to McKinsey, 70% of large scale transformations don’t work. They report that this is down to people and culture, not technology. Being part of the successful 30% depends upon getting the right people in the right place to roll out the change you need.
If crises are the motor of innovation in 2020, we should try to continue that momentum as some sort of normality slowly returns. An obvious tactic is to demonstrate the progress that’s been made. If employees can clearly see improvements, they’ll buy in to what you’re doing.
Leaders need to gauge employees’ reaction to change and keep or discard what’s working or what’s not.
One of Gartner’s top strategic technology trends for 2021 is ‘total experience’:
"Total experience combines multi-experience, customer experience, employee experience and user experience to transform the business outcome."
Media companies employing total experience will be able to capitalise on post-pandemic realities, such as remote work, and virtual or distributed customers.
Funding is increasing for digital initiatives
2020 has increased leaders’ understanding of technology’s strategic importance to the business. This has led to funding for digital initiatives increasing more than any other area during the pandemic. That’s more than increases in costs, the number of people in technology roles, and the number of customers.
Employees have reported appreciation of some changes the pandemic has brought to the work environment. Companies need to hold on to these positive changes during unpredictable times. Leaders need to look ahead and potentially refresh the company’s purpose to take their people along the same journey.
Changes might include agile corporate structures, omni-channel digital experiences or remote working. This demands a change in the way we work. We have passed a technology tipping point and will not go back to the way we worked before.
The pandemic has given sales and marketing teams the greatest leverage in pushing transformation initiatives with the C-suite. This is the time to seize the moment and digitally optimise customer engagement.
A transformation roadmap for 2021
Build a culture that allows you to optimise the new environment
Focus on behaviour – with all your stakeholders
Keep the good stuff and tell the right stories to the right people
Don’t assume we’re ever going back anywhere
Get leaders on board to keep your foot on the gas
Move on and reinvent yourself so that you’re adaptable