Measuring up: How to get more from your digital innovation

In my last post on Agile digital transformation (“Think you’re behind on digital? Think again.”), I challenged the view that businesses are falling behind in this arena and suggested that some good old-fashioned testing, learning and revising would help them get in the game.

What’s clear, of course, is that testing alone won’t solve all your digital transformation issues. In fact, without proper measurement, all the testing in the world probably won’t make a bit of difference to your business. So it’s time to measure up—and measure well.

Think beyond sales and profit

Let’s say you’ve decided what you want to test. It’s in a nice, manageable package and you’re committed to taking the lessons on-board once you finish the project. The question now is: How will you measure success? It’s very unlikely you’ll see a material shift in sales, profit or margin. It’s a test, after all, and the point is to start with something small.

Even though an initiative isn’t moving the dial on one of those big metrics, you can still track and assess a number of factors to establish what the test has achieved and where you should go from there. But a lot of businesses and business leaders still find this tricky. We’re often so focused on KPIs and quick results that we fail to realize the true value of digital innovation. If you’re going to give your teams the space to test and innovate, you owe it to the business not to stifle their creativity with unrealistic targets they probably can’t achieve.

Consider the bigger picture

This year’s IGD E-commerce Award attracted some fascinating entries and showed how businesses are developing a keener sense of what they should be tracking, as well as what lessons they can take from their digital innovations.

The eventual award winner, The Coca-Cola Company, brought this to life perfectly. The end game was a shift in market share for its Glacéau smartwater, but all the way through the project, the team had clear interim objectives that allowed them to gauge success and establish next steps. Search optimization, brand awareness, conversion rates—all were in scope at different points and were tracked and monitored accordingly.

As a result, even if the ultimate goal of greater market share hadn’t been achieved, the business would still have gained valuable intelligence to support future launches and initiatives. It’s tempting to look for immediate returns, but business leaders have a duty to keep an eye on the prize by gathering as many useful insights as possible along the way.

Take the best measure

I have one other example that proves the obvious metric isn’t always the right one. When Mindtree was asked by a major dairy cooperative to assess the power and relevance of its social media content, the clear route to take was tracking likes, follows, friends and all the other in-your-face social metrics that people obsess over.

However, while those factors were of interest, Mindtree analyzed the particular words used by shoppers and consumers to unearth a deeper, richer vein of insight. What did they find? A previously unknown group was buying significant volumes of the product, and this group had an issue with the packaging only when they consumed it in a certain way.

Not only does this demonstrate the value of measuring the right factor, but it also highlights the role analytics can play. They enable you to discover associations, patterns of behavior and even sales opportunities that lie beneath what everyone else is thinking, seeing and doing. In a dynamic digital ecosystem where customer touchpoints are multiplying and complexity is increasing by the day, it’s hugely important to see these possibilities and connect the right dots.

If you’re not taking the right measurements, you’re trying to test and learn with one hand tied behind your back. And if you’re not harnessing analytics, then you may as well tie the other hand behind your back, too—and wear a blindfold.

An iterative approach to testing and measurement is essential in making digital real for your business. Learn why in our new e-book, Get Personal to Make Digital Real.

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