Five Challenges of Digital Transformation

by Really Simple Systems

Really Simple Systems discuss some of the challenges of digital transformation.

It’s important to understand that when we talk about a full digital marketing transformation, it means much more than just using social networks as advertising channels and placing banner ads on websites. It means a complete shift in perspective. Digital marketing transformation entails internal organisational changes, automation of work processes, investing in advanced data analysis to gain a deeper understanding of a new breed of customers, and generally adapting your company culture and mindset to the new digital reality in marketing and business alike.

This new approach is definitely here to stay, and no matter how successful your company is, your marketing strategy will need to be reinvented to some extent in order to survive in this new context. If you decide to take this road, these are some of the challenges you might face.

Employee resistance

One of the first issues you’ll have to resolve will probably be the reaction of your staff. They may not be openly against digital marketing transformation, but a lot of them will feel some sort of distrust towards the upcoming innovations.

It’s not really unexpected for people to not accept changes easily. Especially at their workplace. And especially if they don’t fully understand how it affects their job and their daily habits. What they do understand is that this transformation means they will definitely have to put in some extra effort in order to learn new skills, and some extra hours until they get used to new routines and procedures.

They may even be scared for their jobs, and sometimes they may be right. For some of them, additional training will do the trick, but some of the positions at your company will simply become obsolete. However, you should try to explain that only those who choose to learn and adapt can stand a chance of keeping their jobs. And if the company fails to readjust to new circumstances, it’s not just their jobs at stake, but the jobs of everyone in the organisation.

Lack of expertise

This relative lack of skills and knowledge among the workforce will obviously be a problem not just for individual employees but for entire businesses. A part of this problem can be solved by organising training sessions and workshops.

Nevertheless, sometimes this won’t be enough. Content creators, for instance, should be able to adapt after learning a few new tricks, and they can hope to pick up the rest of the essentials on the run. But when it comes to content managers and marketing strategists, they’re dealing with a lot of moving parts that don’t even resemble those parts used in traditional marketing. Namely, 52 per cent of CMOs think that their lack of familiarity with technology is the biggest obstacle for digital marketing transformation.

This means that for the most responsible positions in your revamped company, you may have to recruit seasoned experts from outside. These guys need to not just be good at their job but also understand the increasingly proactive and demanding generation of digital customers. Moreover, they’ll have to be creative, agile, and flexible as they’ll be constantly coming across new circumstances and will generally be working in an ever-changing environment.

Lack of IT infrastructure

Improving technological infrastructure can be quite a challenge for a lot of companies undergoing digital marketing transformation. This is a complex and expensive process, especially for businesses that haven’t developed a habit of regularly investing in new technologies. This goes not just for marketing, but also digital transformation in sales, HR, accounting, or operations management. The longer you’ve been avoiding to digitise various areas of your business, the more difficult it will be to catch up with your competition once you start this process.

It’s impossible to say which exact resources you’ll need for the full digitisation of your marketing operations. It’ll depend on your industry, the size of your company, as well as short- and long-term goals you set.

However, regardless of these factors, a powerful, functional, and secure data analysis and marketing automation tool is a must for any organisation intending to go digital. It’s probably best to listen to an expert’s advice when choosing the appropriate software of this sort. It has to be reliable and customisable enough to suit your specific business needs because otherwise you won’t be gaining anything from it – on the contrary, it’ll be just a waste of money.

Changing the organisational structure

During the process of digital transformation, you don’t just rename some of the old positions by adding the prefix “digital”, teach some people a couple of new skills, hire a few new ones, and then sit back and relax. A real transformation also demands substantial structural changes.

First of all, if you still don’t have an IT department, now you’ll need them. No matter how versatile your marketing experts are, they can’t write lines of code or deal with the technical part of data analysis. In general, IT teams will have a much more prominent role and they will have to work closely with virtually all other departments.

Moreover, some people will indeed keep their old positions, but they’ll now have new roles and responsibilities as a consequence of digital transformation. On the one hand, these roles tend to be more specific and focused, but on the other hand cooperation and communication between different departments need to be more intensive and efficient. Therefore, what was once a rigid, unchanging structure with carefully separated departments and a clear chain of command in place, now becomes a dynamic network with a lot of interconnected hubs that all need each other in order to get the job done. This will significantly affect the previously established processes, workflows, and routines. Finally, the new structure will define what the marketers of the future will look like – they’ll have to be quick learners, highly adaptable, communicative, agile, and tech-savvy.

Tight budget

This obstacle is the most comprehensive, as all of the already mentioned challenges are also budgetary to some extent. You need to teach your employees new skills? You need to hire new ones? You need advanced hardware and software? You need more IT workforce? It all costs money.

Here, you’ll need all your departments closely cooperating. Marketing, sales, and IT should work together to come up with several different plans to improve the technological infrastructure, HR should recommend talents to hire, and accounting should evaluate which of these suggestions are financially feasible.

In any event, you probably won’t be happy with the amount of money you’ll have to invest in modernising your business. That’s why you’ll have to balance things out perfectly here. Surely, you’ll need to find some affordable solutions, but you definitely don’t want to underfund such an important project that can bring you a lot of benefits in the long-run.


The challenges you’ll encounter in the process of digital marketing transformation are complex and tough. However, there are many reasons why you should take this risk.
Companies that have turned digital provide much better customer experience, mostly thanks to access to valuable customer data and feedback. They’re also more visible, they’re quick to respond and adapt to new circumstances, they’re more successful at nurturing a culture of growth and innovation, and at the end of the day, they offer a better environment for their employees to learn and develop.