People are the key to successful digital transformation

Mark Preston
X The Business Desk

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People are the key to digital transformation.

That was the message from Leeds-based digital agency Stickyeyes in a presentation to today’s Disruptors North online conference.

The presenation by Stickyeyes performance strategy director, Mark Preston, focused on the digital transformation arena, which has become a huge topic of conversation in the aftermath of the pandemic as organisations across all sectors look to ensure that their business operations can fully harness the power of digital technologies.

However, Stickyeyes argues that the process of digital transformation is about much more than throwing investment at expensive tech stacks and tools that rarely get used.

Instead, it’s a people-driven process and an organisational and operational culture that comes from the boardroom.

Mark Preston said people hold the key to digital transformation and it is important, particularly concerning staff, to involve them in the digital transformation journey.

First, he identified the meaning of digital transformation in the context of marketing, which is: “Do more effective things efficiently, as well as trying to identify and reach customers and meet the needs they have.”

Mark cited the ‘big four’ areas to achieve this, which are elastic cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

He said: “This allows us to get smarter and better at what we are doing,”

However, digital transformation initiatives often fail, which he said is very often cultural, and about people.

From the point of view of both customers and staff, he posed the question: “What advantage are you communicating to the customer, and from the staff perspective there’s a resistance to some digital technologies.

“Being told what to do by a machine is something that can jerk a little bit with the human ego.

“So it’s about how we position this to staff as a support mechanism, rather than gazump their experience or knowledge.”

The key, he said, is to focus on projects that drive economic value for customers and staff. Education and training and stakeholder management are vital for staff.

One example he used was of a legal client. He said firms can invest time and effort and awareness and consideration with customers, but the big drop off is performance and conversion.

The legal firm he cited, he said, had no joined up system and leads were being sent to the wrong departments, so Stickyeyes created a series of connections that allowed them to track the status and value of a case.

It also created a feedback loop to see how effectively their marketing campaigns were, and the result was a seven-fold return on investment within 18 months.

Another aspect of digital transformation Mark touched on was the responsible use of data, instead of just creating a digital programme that is used without thought.

In this instance, he highlighted the drinks brand Aperol which had to pivot during the pandemic from an on-trade brand selling to bars and restaurants and target the at home consumer.

Mark said: “What we created was a series of contact marketing programmes. Aperol didn’t have a very big consumer database.”

This resulted in a 256% increase in consumer profiles in the company’s consumer records.

Concluding, he said a successful digital transformation is made easier when staff can see the value of the drive, and if they can see the benefits for themselves.

Finding a stakeholder champion within a company was key, he said, as well as ‘baking’ education as incentivised learning into company culture: “Resistance to change is underpinned by a lack of knowledge,” he added.


The Disruptors North conference is a free one day event brought to you by TheBusinessDesk.com alongside headline sponsors Deloitte, Clarion, UKFast and Quba which set the challenge for businesses to pick a side and decide whether to be the disruptor or the disrupted.

The virtual conference is also being sponsored by Nexus, Curveblock, Stickyeyes, Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, WeLink and Ribble Cycles. It showcased the businesses already leading the charge and innovating from the north and the next generation of entrepreneurs and companies that are aiming to transform the regional, national and global economy.

To find out more click here.

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