Netflix. Loblaws. Facebook. CIBC.
Each of these four companies is known for being a leader in digital transformation. For some, it was a gradual evolution; others completely blew up their old business model and took a 180-degree turn. And so far, all of them have emerged stronger than they were before.
Netflix started out going head-to-head with Blockbuster in the DVD-by-mail battle and took a risk by pushing online streaming before it was clear it would become the wave of the future.
Loblaws has been a grocery innovator for many years and was among the first retailers to embrace organic foods and clothing before they became mainstream selections. More recently it continued to push the envelope by rolling out PC Plus, an app that’s just as much a social media game as it is a loyalty program.
Facebook found ways to monetize its unparalleled reach through advertising, which now accounts for more than 90 percent of its revenues.
And in an age when the financial tech disruption is challenging big banks to make big changes, CIBC has taken a market leadership role. Last year, it became the first of the major banks to collaborate with telecommunication companies on an open mobile wallet, introducing a mobile banking app for the Apple Watch and launching a no-fee Global Money Transfer service.
Five years from now, the companies that successfully navigate the digital shift and find ways to continually provide value for their customers are the ones that will live to tell the tale.
At DATA we are excited to navigate this shift along with our clients by continuing to evolve our products and services to meet the needs of modern companies. But before we can talk about where we’re going, let’s talk about where we’ve been.
Where We’ve Been
DATA Group started in 1959 as one of many printing divisions of magazine group Maclean-Hunter. We specialized in printing labels, forms and other collateral items. Over time, our sales staff began to add value by redesigning printed forms to improve the data that was being collected. We kept track of the types and quantities of forms each company needed and developed more efficient, cost-effective ways to manage their inventory.
As more documents moved online, we applied the same process efficiencies and expertise to the digital world. Our services expanded beyond document creation and management to data analytics, campaign execution and fulfilment. Unfortunately for us, we really didn’t do a very good job at showcasing how we were evolving. A mistake that we’re now working to correct. More on that below.
Where We’re Headed
Before I joined DATA I spent many years as a senior marketer and strategist at two outstanding organizations. When I think back at all the campaigns and programs I ran during that time, I find myself categorizing the results and ROI for each based on the success of two separate but distinct parts of the work: The creative work and the execution work. In some cases my team received great feedback on the campaign creative, but the actual execution fell short – significantly reducing the ROI.
I realized back then that to maximize the investment I made in creative strategy and development I needed to be absolutely sure that the execution strategy was equally stellar. To be clear, when I say “execution strategy” I’m talking about much more than just on-time delivery of the final customer communication. Execution includes the upfront data work to determine which customers or prospects should receive which message (easier said than done in most cases). It includes the creation of the actual communication content (based on the creative strategy) and the internal workflow and approval process to prepare it for launch. And it includes the coordinated execution of campaign communications across multiple channels on a specific (and often critical) schedule. If any one of these execution tasks are poorly planned or poorly implemented, even the greatest creative strategy is unlikely to salvage your campaign ROI.
The challenge for us marketers is that nailing the execution strategy is often more difficult than it needs to be—and the process is fraught with tradeoffs and “good enoughs”.
For example, in the past I’ve used internal resources that were already stretched thin to do the data work, common office programs to create communication content and email to secure approvals. I relied on several different vendors to deliver that message across multiple channels. Not only did this process often result in a less than ideal campaign execution, it was also very cumbersome to manage – sometimes requiring us to add more staff to compensate.
When I joined DATA about 15 months ago, I assumed, like many others, that the company was still just one of North America’s leading printers, navigating a new digital world. I assumed I’d be part of the company’s evolution into new adjacent areas where we could continue to support some of North America’s biggest brands. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was to find that in many ways we had already expanded our services from printing into end-to-end execution strategy – we just hadn’t told anyone.
Who We Are
Our new website is the place where we begin to tell our new story: a story that started a few years ago and will continue to evolve with the needs of our clients. On our site you’ll get a better sense of who we are, how we add value to our client relationships, and how to get in touch if you are interested in learning more.
What you’ll also notice is that we have a new brand identity. Sometimes the easiest way to signal that something is different on the inside is to make a clear and direct change to how you look on the outside. In addition to a more modern look and feel, we’ve updated our name to DATA Communications Management. We’ve been helping our clients manage the execution of their end-to-end communications for many years, and our company name now reflects that.
As the Head of Marketing at DATA Communications Management I’m really excited about 2016 and beyond. We’re not just transforming our own company—we’re enabling our clients to transform theirs, allowing them to have an even greater impact on their customers. Our stories are intertwined, and I look forward to seeing them unfold.