How to ride the wave of digital transformation


This article was originally written for, and published on, The Digital Doughnut.
Read the original article, “Changes at the top: What Sorrell’s departure can teach us about digital transformation”, here.

Rapid change driven by technology is now a fact of life. The so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution that we are living in is changing society at a much faster rate than human history has ever known. How do marketers and advertisers – and all businesses, for that matter – ride the wave of digital transformation and make sure they come out on top?

The very first step to adaptation is observation. In the words of Arthur Sadoun, chief executive of Publicis Groupe, “the consumer has changed, the media landscape has changed, our clients have changed.”

Digital transformation is a quiet, but powerful, driving force

In the wake of the recent departure of Martin Sorrell from WPP, the group has quickly looked to dispel talk of a breakup. But the speculation is not just another case of a micro-economic rise and fall within the industry. It is directly related to the profound forces at work in society, leading businesses to consider just how much we will need to shake things up to adapt and transform.

Arthur Sadoun explained to The Drum in late April that – in light of changes in WPP’s leadership – the structure of holding companies will need to change. He stressed that everything has changed, and holding companies will have to transform accordingly. Only by taking stock of how the wider landscape has changed, can we begin to think about change within our own business model.

And the evidence is that Publicis – the world’s third-largest advertising agency – is practicing what it preaches. In recent weeks, the group announced it is setting aside €300m-500m to be invested in both data and creativity, particularly acquisitions and creating solutions hubs. For Publicis, digital transformation is firmly on the radar, and is a guiding beacon for the future of the agency.

Analyzing megatrends to identify new business opportunities

But a more fundamental question remains – how do we detect the subtle forces that are reshaping our world in the first place? Just as Publicis’ Chief Executive hinted, change requires a wide perspective of the entire landscape. And when it comes to digital transformation specifically, that means taking account of the broader societal landscape.

Every significant societal change is motivated by three key factors: generational, technological and economic shifts. Understanding if new services or solutions are aligned with these shifts is the first step towards your digital transformation.

Rapid urbanization is a good example: new technologies, economic needs and different ways of thinking across multiple generations have led populations to increasingly move to cities. As a consequence, cities are larger and more numerous than ever and have given rise to countless new market opportunities and a huge impact on resource availability. Innovations that have accompanied this megatrend include shared working spacesclothing rental services, and Uber.


Want to read more about breaking old habits and forging new partnerships? Read the full article here.