How do you know when your organisation has truly embraced digital?

digital organisation1

Companies around the world are still undergoing digital transition. Some believe they are there already whilst others still have their heads buried in the sand. Digital is a loose term and can encompass many things, so for the purpose of this article, I am talking specifically about the use of digital as an organisation’s “window to the world”. Here are five “digitally transformed organisation” indicators.

1. Digitally educated employees

You generally find pockets of expertise in companies, with groups of individuals managing the website, online advertising, search engine optimisation, the corporate blog, social media channels and direct marketing. Whilst this should still be the case in a digitally transformed organisation, every employee should know what the company does online, know where they can contribute, understand what content and interaction is managed and how the company, and individuals within the company, benefit.

2. The digital channel is always considered

In the digitally aware organisation, every individual will consider how they can use the digital channel in their day to day activities, when developing strategy or planning ahead for an event. Employees will ensure that they have an updated LinkedIn profile, those managing Twitter accounts will generate tweets on a regular basis, employees will take photos and post on the corporate Facebook page, all thought ware and opinion pieces will be blogged regularly and shared across relevant channels, activities and thought leaders will be video-ed and uploaded to the corporate YouTube account and employees will be responsive to online questions, queries and conversation.

3. Optimised paid, earned and owned media

Companies that are well and truly on the digital bandwagon will be reviewing their investments in the three main media buckets of earned, shared and paid (which each give opportunities to influence customers) and will be measuring their returns in order to set their investment at the right level. Owned media includes the website, mobile site, blog and social media accounts. Paid media includes display ads, paid search and sponsorships. Earned media is “word of mouth”, creating “buzz” and going viral. Digital companies optimise each of these to maximise the return on their digital investment.

4. Online channels are the digital extension of the company

The digital channel is described by some as cold, so the digitally astute company will use the the online channels they have at their disposal to humanise wherever possible. With proper use of words and images and video on the corporate blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and email, they give their online presence a personality to which their communities form an emotional attachment. Companies that get this right are the ones who build loyal online communities and produce content that is shared and hopefully goes viral.

5. Digitally transformed companies should have fun online

I left the most important point to last. Digital companies have fun when participating online and this is noticed by their online community. These companies post content, comments, blog posts, images and video that encapsulate the essence, spirit and personality of the company. When they are hosting and/or attending events, these are captured and shared. Client experiences are captured and shared (with their permission of course). When they are doing pro bono work at a local orphanage or school, they take photos and publish them. It is all these collective experiences, when captured and shared that humanises their online presence and encourages their communities to form real connections.

Do you agree or disagree with some of these points? Is there something I have left out? Do you have any comments? I would love to hear from you.


24 thoughts on “How do you know when your organisation has truly embraced digital?

  1. Jodene Shaer

    Of everything, I am most inclined to agree with the last point. The whole dynamic of making the process fun and making every element of the process truly social. Another great article David 🙂

  2. Richard Simmonds @RichSimmondsZA

    Thanks for this article, another great article as Jodene said.
    The conversation that I would like to start is around this article is … Who would drive and co-ordinate this process, whose responsibility would it be to ensure that the organization achieves this?

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thank you for the feedback Richard. Firstly, you need buy in from your executive committee and an executive sponsor. In terms of who should be responsible for making it work, I recommend using an online digital marketing specialist. If you do not have the expertise in house, hire or in-source. This is an ongoing process so the role will need to be long term.

      1. Gaylin Jee

        Great points.
        Building on this, you’ve probably seen the recent commentary on the ‘Social CEO’ and the role s/he plays in setting the cultural tone in the organisation. If CEO’s are able to lead through their own behaviours, going digital themselves, this might assist with organisations embracing digital more fully too.

        With a recent global study over 1700 CEOs finding that only 16% are participating in social media, we still have a way to go. But imagine what is going to be like when these percentages start to increase – exciting times indeed.

  3. David Mannl (@David_Mannl)

    This is another perfect article and I will be monitoring these comments closely to see if anyone can identify anything that has been left out. I seriously doubt any other area can be added in terms of use of digital as an organisation’s “window to the world”, but I would be really interested in a sequel to this focusing on the use of digital for collaboration within an organisation to increase efficiency.

  4. Adam Franklin (@Franklin_Adam)

    Hi David, I really like how you’ve said that fully transformed companies have fun online. And that is the easiest way (and best way) to tell if an organisation has truly embraced digital.

    To have fun, you need to have digital savvy employees (often with the digital natives mentoring the digital dinosaurs, like I know you do at Deloitte). You need a corporate culture that trusts and empowers its team, and you need to always be thinking how you use digital (and not as an after thought either)!

    David, in your opinion, would you say Deloitte has truly embraced digital? Or are the some more steps to go?

    Great post.

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thank you for your comments Adam. I believe we are just about there. Going forward I will be focussing on education, identifying “digital champions” in all our service lines, encouraging all thought leaders to produce content relevant for the various channels we manage and learning how to have more fun in the process 🙂

  5. dotfield

    As always, a brilliant piece. Most companies however are still very wary of embracing digital fully and are taking a cautious approach. Your educational platforms David are assisting a great deal.

  6. Adrian Lee (@AdrianLeeSA)

    Might a bit harsh but going by your criteria and in my experience, many African companies have yet to embrace ‘digital’. Reasons range from lack of understanding to sheer corporate inertia that prevents the leap forward. Embracing ‘digital’ is a daily effort and commitment. Most of the time, I encounter evangelists in organizations who have the unenviable task of convincing the rest. Fun should then be the by-product of doing digital right.

    1. David Graham Post author

      I agree that most organisations have a long way to go in terms of digital transformation. I came across a paper prepared by MIT Sloan Management and Capgemini Consulting which indicates that the transformed organisations across all industries are out performing their competition. Thanks for the contribution Adrian

  7. Anton koekemoer

    Good post David.

    When your organisation has embraced digital, it won’t be seen as an add on or measured in it’s own silo. It will be integrated and used in your organisation to reach your overall goals.

  8. Karima-Catherine (@karimacatherine)


    I like how you simplified and explained the digital transformation within organizations. For having witnessed and collaborated with the internal stakeholders, I have a couple of comments.

    1 – Employees : that’s one of the biggest challenge as their knowledge and receptivity ranges from null to super passionate. A top-down approach with involved upper ranks helps.

    2 – I agree but would moderate my response a little. Digital should not be a channel but a mindset. If Digital is a channel, it usually becomes a tactic and very little strategic thought is put into making relevant. By recognizing that Digital is part of an organization’s DNA, it gives the opportunity to look at it backwards and applying strategic thinking from the start.

    3 – 4 – 5 : I totally agree there

  9. Bernie Borges (@berniebay)

    David, I generally agree with your characterization of an organization that has embraced digital. I refer to it somewhat differently. I call it social business. In addition to the points you make in this post, the executives support the culture of social both internally and externally.


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