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What are the 7 key ingredients of a digital transformation?

Innovation comes from adopting the new but also in optimising the existing, says EssenceMediacom’s Burt Reynolds

“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present,are certain to miss the future.”
— John F. Kennedy

Since the last time I penned my thoughts on digital transformation in Campaign, there has been a sea-change, with it evolving from being an umbrella (and some would say utopian) concept to a reality that has ushered us into what is rightfully the 4th Industrial Revolution.

As marketers, we are first-hand witnesses to how this has gear-shifted the dynamics and inter-play between consumers and brands.

This leveling-up means that marketing in the modern era is no longer just a function of creativity and brand management but is undeniably tied to technology, innovation and most importantly, business outcomes. 

And as hype-cycles (80 per cent + of which dud out) become more commonplace there is a lot of high-pitched noise: Which tool to use? Which technology to buy? Where to invest? How to navigate the vast sea of ​​information? It’s a whirlwind, and even experienced marketers can find themselves overwhelmed. 

‘Crawl, walk, run’ is a mantra I often recite to clients within our consulting practice. But today, I’d like to simplify and articulate it into inputs and outputs for a framework you could use in your go-to-market.

Who doesn’t love a little alliteration? So in true marketing tradition here are the 7Ps that are key ingredients to your transformation mix.


An obvious, but often ignored one – we often forget that marketing is, after all, a people game. While we have our targeting, automation and data, ultimately, we are in the business of communicating with people and selling to people and that’s literally driven by people.

The pandemic if anything has been a wake-up call on the significance of people and finding meaningful ways for everyone to work together. In a nutshell, when the organisation invests itself on transformation – this needs to come from a place of inspiring and empowering its people. 


Building on the people element – the most powerful additive is when we channelise opportunity by being purposeful. When organisations top-down articulate the feel-state of how our end-consumers need to be at, it translates into a greenfield offering that resonates. Technological transformation becomes the enabler.  


I’ll be the first to admit that given the redefinition of work in the past three years – WFH, WFO, WFA, hybrid – galvanizing teams towards a transformation agenda is difficult.

But, alongside there have been opportunities to elevate the passion and enthusiasm among teams through humanistic themes such as DEI, ESG and ethical marketing. There are salient levers, when done right. 


Working within a partner ecosystem is perhaps the most congruent way to accelerate on your trajectory whilst leveraging the knowledge and capabilities of others.  

Today technology has become composable, which means that you are not locked-in to or bound by relationships, however, the ones you get into need to be assessed with a long-term horizon lens.


The modus operandi for most successful companies that are leading charge is simple – transformation that is easily transferable, adaptable and incrementally scalable. This arises from the ground-truth that the technology of today is rooted in ‘convergence’. It is prudent that we process-map our principles and workflows as a framework that allows for this. 


They are our vantage points; whether they are part of your tech stack or limited to downstream activation endpoints. The biggest challenge and opportunity we have is in de-commoditising by how we orchestrate the value exchange. If we go beyond the standard offering, there are significant opportunities that can be pipelined either natively or through the layering-on of SAAS technologies.


Ultimately, any digital-enabled transformation must be a value driver. In the end, what we want to measure is its value and prove that it’s the right thing to do. 

And this pointedly brings us to a tangible outcome-driven framework for businesses.

Time-to-value: test, fail, learn; but, fail fast. This is of essence as transformation projects gain momentum. Businesses should be able to quickly recognise the value within expected growth cycles.  

Time-to-market: feasibility of realising the opportunity for the serviceable market is crucial to ensure that we are unbundling the right value, at the right time.

Time-to-maturity: This lends itself to ensuring that transformation initiatives are putting the brand ahead of the curve; and becomes not just a critical differentiator against the category, but also establishes a platform for the brand to pivot from. 

As we continue to learn, unlearn and navigate the complex dance between marketing and digital transformation, it is imperative to understand and leverage the tools and technology we already have. Innovation comes from not only adopting the new, but also in optimising the existing.

By Burt Reynolds, Chief Data & Technology Officer, EssenceMediacom, a GroupM Company