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How To Build Strong Digital Roots For Digitising Events

Adam Malik

4 min read

Adam Malik

To digitise events, you need strong digital roots, which will help you shift to a digital-first and evidence-based approach to delivering greater engagement and outcomes for any events.

While it may seem that digital transformation has only been impacting businesses in recent years, the mainstream media industry has been at the forefront of digitalisation since the 1990s and digital technologies have been in use for several years. This does not mean, however, that the industry has always had cutting-edge practices when it comes to digital. Digitising assets and moving them around is not what digitalisation is about.

We need to take the leap. Or, to be a little specific, do the DIG and start cultivating our digital roots. This means putting digitalisation as the key driver for business model innovations (BMIs) and making Digitising Events the core of our initiatives moving forward.

Indeed, digitalisation still poses strategic challenges to the long-term vision of various companies. Take, for instance, the view that this process is just "as an addition to the companies' existing business models and did not see the need to change established business models... [it is only] acting more as an enabler than a driver." This was from a study on the impact of digitalisation in the automotive and events industry. Why is this so?

The Digital Tree - The Media CTO
Figure 1. Thinking of your digital initiatives like this digital tree allows you to explore and innovate where it matters.

Looking For Value In Digital

Despite new investment patterns emerging from the rapid transition to digital, thinking about digital technologies in various industries remains limited. True, companies are now focusing more on "big data" and "analytics", replacing the conventional HiPPO (Highest Paid Person's Opinion) approach. But until recently, most executives see the use of digital mainly in customer engagement, product design, and, in a very limited way, business model innovation.

Digitising customer engagement is a safe choice for many businesses. After all, it costs more to find new ones than to keep what we already have. But this safe investment might only work in the short term, leaving a lot of value unlocked.

Organisational inertia is a major factor. Larger organisations are particularly prone to this, given that technological changes are unfolding at breakneck speed. Many executives fear embracing digital transformation because they think existing organisational structures and practices may need a massive overhaul to adapt to digital.

Digitising Events is about moving from attention by default to engagement by design

As such, current BMIs are stuck with conventional digitalisation: using digital platforms to optimise certain processes within the business model, e.g., cost optimisation. But how do we look for and integrate specialists -- like in data analytics, project management, product development, and the like -- into existing structures and processes? How do we migrate such processes into the virtual world without compromising customer experience? Given these concerns, even well-intentioned efforts at cost optimization using digital might turn out the other way for any organisation.

We believe that underlying all these fears and concerns is the difficulty in seeing or locating value in digital initiatives.

The Digital Tree

How, then, do we shift our business models so that we can adapt to digitalisation at an optimal rate?

This process usually unfolds through the transformation of certain aspects of the existing business model, e.g., data-driven decision-making. In other words, tinkering around the edges without completely revamping the foundations. Or, an organisation can choose to completely develop a new business model, thereafter shifting the value proposition through the development of new products and services.

In both cases, a clear vision is immaterial without an appropriate framework that allows one to operationalise objectives and generate valuable outcomes. In strategic management literature, this is referred to as dynamic capability: "the firm's ability to integrate, build, and reconfigure internal and external competencies to address rapidly changing environments."

After all, digitalisation has practically levelled the field by reducing the marginal costs of entry to emerging markets. Digital platforms are contributing significantly to accelerating this trend. The challenge for competitive differentiation has never been more pronounced.

We at The MediaCTO developed the CVI+CVO Framework with precisely this thing in mind. One particularly illustrative way of thinking about this framework is imagining a digital tree (see Figure 1).

Strong Digital Roots For Digitising Events

Conventional wisdom dictates that value capture is defined by the features and functions that a product, service, or platform offers. But these features and functions are like the pretty leaves designed to capture your customers' attention. Yes, they help with your visibility, but that is not where the true value lies.

For instance, considering hybrid publishing and virtual event sessions, one company realised, through a number of iterations applying the CVI+CVO Framework, that what drives value is their resource downloads and lead generation, click-throughs to sponsored content, and industry pulse and survey research.

The CVI+CVO Framework helps identify these valuable outcomes. We use the Framework to quickly align your commercial aspirations and the digital experience you need to support that vision in the context of the digital shift. This is what we mean by cultivating deep digital roots.

In addition, this framework allows one to differentiate digitally and transform digital into a value-adding pillar in business, not a cost centre. This allows you to be more attuned to the ever-shortening technology cycles and reduce unnecessary costs when adopting certain technologies.

We believe that digitalisation must be able to simplify business structures and processes. Asynchronous work helps accelerate content production and distribution. Automation, data accessibility, and better insights should lead to better organisational efficiency. But these only work when investments are made to appropriate infrastructure. Online structures should not merely mirror offline systems and activities.

Establishing deep digital roots allows you to explore, differentiate, and innovate where it matters. We envision the Framework as an opportunity to design sustainable value capture, e.g., content production, distribution, digital experience, personalisation, etc.

Finally, this Framework serves as an accountability measure: not only does it allow us to know where the values are and how to drive them optimally, but it also allows us to see the challenges and obstacles right away, thereby shifting and aligning talent and resources quickly and more efficiently. What better way to empower our teams and specialists and build strong digital roots for Digitising Events?