Every single day, the world becomes more and more digital. And there is no slowing down; no reverse gear to take us back to where we came from. We are accelerating towards a future where technology enables us to control the majority of our present-day functions digitally.
In this brave new world, some businesses will thrive, particularly those that streamline their operations to become increasingly agile and adapt to disruption. Others, sadly though some will say deservedly, will wither and disappear. An example of this is the day when Instagram’s market capitalization floated at USD 1 billion on the stock market. That was the same day that Kodak, one of the oldest camera brands in the world, filed for bankruptcy.
Supporting this notion further is the fact that digital ad spends in MENA are projected to hit USD 1 billion for the first time in 2016. Therefore, all the signs are there to indicate that brands need to become even more digitally ready if they want to survive and exist in a future that is fast approaching us.
While there is anticipation for this shift in the marketing world, there are also a number of questions on what becoming digitally ready actually entails. Does it mean building an app? Inculcating your CRM system within the marketing department? Hiring a ‘Head of Digital’? Running a paid search campaign? Sending your staff to a digital training course? Letting the top brass attend DMEXCO and Cannes? Appointing the hottest digital agency in the market? The truth, of course, is that it covers all of the above, and possibly none of the above. The secret to becoming digitally ready lies entirely in your attitude, appetite, approach and willingness to collaborate.
Having said that, it’s not surprising that digital competence or literacy varies hugely in the region. The companies who have advanced the most in this space have long understood the imminent trend for quite some time now and placed digital at the core of everything they do, ensuring that they can speak the digital language fluently with all their partners.
The best success stories come from true digital partnerships, rather than tactical approaches that simply ‘tick the digital box’. The former involves working together to develop capability programs so that the water mark rises for both organizations. Co-developing the best of training courses, so not only do they each speak fluent digital, but even the same dialect. When digital becomes a joint responsibility, the opportunities for innovating in the present, while putting in place the building blocks for the future, become abundant.
Such collaborations between agencies and clients could simply be a shared understanding of the power and potential a client’s existing data holds, and how they can work together to incorporate it into the marketing effort. It could also be working together to put a measurement framework in place that connects digital metrics with core business objectives, or the sharing of consumer insights that help to better target online.
Although it will always remain incumbent for an agency to be several steps ahead in their own digital development, it is only by walking a path side by side with our clients that can we truly capitalize on all the opportunities that await.