How #Digitalwashing is hurting the industry

Have you ever experienced going to a meeting where a C executive tells you that they’ve been investing a good amount of time and money and hired the best people, but that digital still isn’t effective?
Or where you see these companies that measure how “digitalized” they are by how much of their budget they invest on digital?
It happens to me all the time…and I guess you know exactly what I’m talking about.

If you take a step back, you’ll find out that what usually has taken place, is that a CEO suddenly considers the company to be lagging behind and asks its team to go heavily into digital.
As a consequence, you have a bunch of Directors, starting with the marketing director, investing a lot in what seems to be the very first steps: Facebook page, mobile app, huge in-store screen … They want to create a “buzz” campaign and whatever else.
That is what I call Digital Washing which doesn’t seems to be such a shared expression.
They also recruit people, put pressure on agencies and so on…
Trying to run when they don’t even know how to walk…so to say.
Some agencies are taking advantage of these situations, selling stupid operations, making their margin, enjoying the fact that the client doesn’t really understand what he is actually buying….
This usually produces 0 results… as no good results can come out of this type of action.
So what the CEO remembers is: we’ve gone into digital, we’ve invested up to 20 to 30% of our budget, and it doesn’t work. End of the story.

As you may understand, this is very bad for the industry.  Many brands have had these types of experience and won’t trust anyone after that.
The truth is that you can invest 100% of your budget in digital and implement 100% of useless actions.
This is classic; when you’re using a new tool (Digital for example), you expect it to change everything.
But there is no magic involved. Digital shouldn’t be used as a magic wand nor as a silo. It is simply a tool that is changing everything, just like electricity did centuries ago.


Just a few tricks to remember: 

  • A touchscreen in a corner will only be used by kids if you don’t have a sale person nearby
  • A Facebook page doesn’t help to create a brand community
  • A video won’t go viral if you just put it on Youtube
  • Facebook is only a media that can help you to target, at best
  • Recruiting digital superstars in a company that mistrusts digital will be a total failure

There are many others. But I think the most important thing is to accept that you are late, which is fine because you’re not the only one. You need to walk one foot in front of the other.
What does this mean ? Have the Executive committee trained to understand the digital mindset, and develop a strong belief in digital so that they can make decisions.
Involve employees to a point where their salary will be connected to how good in Digital they are (and again I’m not talking about the percentage of budget they’ll put into digital).

There are many steps in the digital transformation of a company, and not every company is the same so that would be useless to do a list of steps to follow.
However, Digital Washing is, for sure, not the good way to go.

gregfromparisAuteur: Grégory Pouy
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