How to transform: Ten lessons learned about personalised communication using all channels

Die Speaker der Masterclass von IBM iX und Metro auf der Bühne

Every year, the OMR festival brings together the leading lights in the digital and marketing scene. In our masterclass with METRO.digital, we had the chance to discuss the biggest obstacles encountered in MarTech transformation. Here are the ten most important learnings.

To drive business growth, the METRO wholesaler group saw the need to offer more personalised communication to their customers, across multiple channels. The central pillar of their strategy: a new MarTech stack. With the support from IBM iX, METRO introduced a centralised customer platform using Adobe Real-Time CDP.

In our masterclass “A pioneer: METRO.digital tackles MarTech transformation with IBM iX” at the OMR festival 2023, we explained the key findings resulting from this project. The key point: successful MarTech transformation is not a revolution, but rather a meticulously engineered evolution.

1. The destination is the goal

Digital transformation must have a defined purpose and, in particular, a goal. It is this goal that defines all further decisions – processes, projects, products, partners, people responsible and technologies. Every person in the business must not merely understand the goal but contribute to achieving it. This is why it is important to phrase it accurately and justify it clearly. “More sales” or “better products” are not goals. However, “by next year, we aim to achieve € XX revenue recovery by reactivating customers” is a goal.

2. Planting the value tree

The value tree method, as a tool for balanced decision-making, helps businesses refine their targets and use cases and identify their effects on the transformation process. Cooperating together on this value and decision tree not only enables staff to define aims, but also helps them understand which goal is to be approached first. A final decision on the sequence of use cases also supports the assessment of the business impact in relation to the complexity of the individual use cases.

3. Digital due dilligence

Many transformation projects fail, simply because there is a faulty or incomplete understanding of the digital status quo. A digital maturity assessment works out what digital capabilities exist, which ones are missing and what steps need to be taken to fill the gaps. Benchmarking can also be applied to understand how the company compares with competitors in this particular field. Risks and opportunities are evaluated and the results used to define the goal. The more clearly structured this digital assessment, the greater the chance that the actions taken and the projects initiated will result in real transformation rather than just being tacked on to existing, obsolete hierarchies.

4. Technologies are business enablers, not the other way round

Technologies and digital platforms are aids to achieving the agreed business goals. As a result, businesses first have to identify their use cases and requirements before they can compare the potential solutions offered by various providers to decide whether they will meet the requirements. A phenomenon in the market that is becoming more evident is that businesses are trying to make their customer-specific data work on its own simply because it already exists in various organisational and technological storage points. That will not allow either centralised segmenting or the central orchestration of customer data. One solution that addresses this problem is a customer data platform.

5. Prototypes as a means of impressing others

Digital transformation is an expensive endeavour. In addition to the value tree, use case prototypes can be an excellent way of demonstrating that the new use cases will, in fact, generate added value. Select one or two use cases that you can deal with manually using existing systems to demonstrate that they will, indeed, produce the desired results. That will make discussing budgets easier and also allow the business cases to be calculated more efficiently.

6. Programme and stakeholder management

Since data-driven projects involve a large number of stakeholders, it is particularly important to define the responsibilities for decision-making and the accountabilities. Only in this way can we be sure that discussions will lead to actions and the transformation initiative will be implemented in a structured manner. In this process, it makes sense to install a programme of action with a corresponding governance programme to define the groups and individuals with which the initiatives are to be agreed in each case. How are steering and reporting organised?

7. Standardisation where possible

Businesses often complain that transformation projects of this kind take too long and wonder how they can be accelerated. The answer is standardisation. This applies to the use cases, processes and technologies. The extent to which standardisation is possible depends on the company. Companies that have a range of highly individualised brands under one roof find this difficult. But there will still be some common factors. One simple example: a use case such as staff induction applies to many different industries.

8. Roll-out with care

A sophisticated roll-out strategy will result in a rapid implementation and acceptance of the new processes and tools. Two crucial questions that companies should ask themselves are these: what can be standardised in a blueprint for our brands or markets and how should we deal with personal wishes? Roll-outs are often inhibited by a steady stream of new requirements. On the one hand, it is important to orientate these discussions towards the idea of added value for the company. On the other hand, a company can define several different tiers of brands and markets which may or may not require modifications to the blueprint depending on the sales volumes.

9. Link up to data quality

Integration requirements (or obstacles) and data quality are two basic reasons for the complexity of digital transformation. A lack of interfaces, or information about them, may inhibit implementation in the same way as missing data structures, unidentified data collections or incomplete data records. This is why these two aspects are at the centre of transformation planning both before and after roll-out and must be continuously monitored. One simple method for dealing with this issue is to create an overview of the data sources with the required core information, including the anticipated data quality and the owners.

10. It’s people, people!

Even a digital business boils down to a group of people who apply digital information, data and analyses to generate added value for the business, its customers and the bottom line. Change management plays a crucial role here. One of the first actions should address the question as to what roles our business needs in order to cope with the new processes and technologies. Can our existing staff fill these roles or do we need a reskilling phase? There may well also be roles that require us to recruit new staff. This will involve considerable tact because staff will recognise that there are going to be considerable changes in their work and responsibilities.


Ready to drive your digital strategy to success?

Each of these ten key factors is a Herculean challenge in itself. This is why we are a strong partner working side-by-side with companies like METRO. We will be pleased to advise you personally on how you can implement your transformation project without losing sight of the central issue – your success in a digital market environment. Contact us today!

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