• A true digital transformation requires more than buying technology – organizations must prioritize cross-functional alignment and collaboration
  • SiriusDecisions recently spoke with executives at Booz Allen Hamilton about the company’s ongoing transformation
  • Specific areas of focus included the marketing tech stack, employee engagement and change management

As Marisa Kopec wrote in her recent blog post “Digital Transformation Is the Buzziest Buzzword in B2B Today,” many organizations mistakenly believe that simply purchasing a new piece of technology qualifies as undergoing a digital transformation.

The real stories of successful digital transformation in B2B involve much more, especially at large, long-established organizations. Management and IT consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton is currently revamping its marketing tech stack, redefining employee engagement and changing its campaign planning (among many other initiatives). Grant McLaughlin, chief marketing and communications officer, and Dana Stirk, digital marketing director, recently spoke with us to provide a glimpse into Booz Allen Hamilton’s multifaceted, ongoing digital transformation efforts:

What was the state of the organization pre-digital transformation?

Grant McLaughlin: A roadmap didn’t exist. We had to start from scratch. Processes were inconsistent, and analytics didn’t exist. Tools were plentiful, but they weren’t connected or sometimes even unpacked. There were redundancies and big gaps in our tool suite, and we needed to activate the tools properly. For example, we had multiple instances of the Adobe Marketing Cloud within different parts of the business. Some products weren’t functional, and some parts weren’t even taken out of the box. That was something we knew we had to immediately fix, because straightening it out meant huge cost savings.

digital transformation booz allen hamiltonIn some cases, we were using different platforms in antiquated ways or had them turned on the wrong audiences. For example, we were using Eloqua internally because we didn’t have an appropriate resource for employee email. Our Web site needed an overhaul; it had too many pages, wasn’t optimized for mobile, and analytics showed that many of the pages had minimal views.

Dana Stirk: With the Adobe Marketing Cloud specifically, we were only scratching the surface of how we could use it. One of the early steps to optimizing our use was moving our Web site hosting from a vendor to the Booz Allen system for security and efficiency. From there, we could build up a new site – and connect products like Adobe Analytics – using Adobe Experience Manager.

Grant: My philosophy is that a digital transformation is not just about the technology – it’s about the strategy and the technology that enables it. At the time, we did not have the strategy.

Who took the lead on the initiative? Who else needed to be on board?

Grant: This was a marketing initiative, but we also engaged the IT and security teams, as well as business development and finance. Our first step was to conduct a needs assessment and an “as-is analysis” – detailing what we have and don’t have, what our user agreements are, how many seat licenses we have, and so on. We needed to map it out before we could think about discussing what we needed.

Our “to-be” implementation plan involved understanding where we needed to go strategically and building out a stack to meet our needs. This meant knowing which things we had to consolidate and get rid of to eliminate redundancy, and what we needed to change to use tools better. We defined specific goals to build out the account-based marketing experience. We had to look across the board at the people, processes, technology, security and culture dimensions to see what we needed to build internally and where we could use partners.

Our team runs as an integrated house that includes employee engagement. As a professional services organization, we know that if we take care of our employees and provide them with the right information, it helps them support our clients. So, the technology stack needs to enable everything we do. We asked ourselves several key questions: “What campaigns are we running? What does every employee need to know? How do we get smarter?”

What were some of the specific areas of focus as you were building out the marketing tech stack?

Grant: With our focus on employee engagement and marketing, we built a data warehouse and connected various marketing pieces. Eventually, it will connect Microsoft Dynamics data and parts of finance to make us all smarter and drive marketing toward revenue generation.

We transitioned to Workday about 15 months ago, and about year ago we introduced Dynamic Signal as an employee communications tool.

Dana: Our employee base is mobile and dispersed, and we needed a way to effectively reach them. We introduced Dynamic Signal and implemented an initial pilot – which exceeded all our goals. With our 25,000 employees, we initially wanted to reach 5 percent participation. We wound up having more than 10,000 employees engage with the tool within one year.

Other companies using Dynamic Signal have not been able to move this quickly on level of engagement because of a lack of resources devoted to the program. We have two full-time individuals working on the implementation and management of Dynamic Signal. What you put in is what you get.

Change management played a key role in getting people to understand what the platform is designed to do, why it is needed and to get people excited and on board. We conducted needs assessments, employee engagement attitudes and preferences surveys, and observed how our leaders want to communicate with employees. We chose a tool and developed a program to meet needs and get employees engaged. Employees are excited to be part of a bigger mission.

What makes a digital transformation successful?

Dana: With this type of transformation, you can’t do it all alone. You need everyone’s help to advance the collective goal. Leadership and different functional teams all need to work together.

Grant: Digital transformation is just about the strategy, not about the technology. You are never done. Digital transformation isn’t a destination. We’re always asking, “What’s next in our evolution?” We must continuously improve our systems to get the benefits and insights everyone needs.