Sep 2020

Last week, Happy Marketer and The Boston Consulting Group launched a 3 part digital transformation webinar series titled “What are we Transforming into?”, with one core purpose – bridge the widening gap between digital transformation ambition and execution thereby making this jargon-heavy world a bit more real and tangible.


The key challenge we wanted to address was why is it that after almost a decade of talking about digital transformation, only 30% organizations feel that they have been successful at it ? 


The experts on our panel were:

  • Anthony Oundjian, Managing Director & Senior Partner, Philippines country head at BCG 
  • Prantik Mazumdar, Managing Partner at Happy Marketer and Managing Director of the CRM Group at Dentsu
  • Srotoswini Roy, Director of Digital Transformation, Happy Marketer


Happy Marketer & The Boston Consulting Group have been partners in the Digital Transformation space for over 4 years, jointly delivering large scale digital marketing accelerators and transformation programs in South East Asia. We have experienced organizations in various stages of digital maturity – from nascent to connected. 


One common challenge we noticed across different levels of maturity is that organizations were rarely able to clearly articulate their goals and objectives for undergoing transformation. Probably rightfully so because digital transformation is such a vast and all encompassing subject that more often than not it remains a fuzzy, vague idea which is difficult to encapsulate into a tangible outcome.


Digital Transformation is neither a sprint nor a marathon – it is a triathlon!


According to Anthony Oundjian, “There’s no such thing as completing a digital transformation. It’s a discipline that’s embedded in your culture – alive and evolving.”


Ultimately that is what continuous improvement is about. When speaking about the process of transformation, Anthony very rightly reminds transformation leaders that the goal is to learn in the different legs of the journey and not to reach the proverbial finish line, “The bar keeps rising. Every year you have to reinvent yourself, push the boundaries across dimensions. It’s not the case where we do it once, and then we are done. It’s about keeping up with the change in technologies, about constantly evolving customers and ecosystems. It’s so multidimensional across organizations that it is difficult to grasp as a singular exercise.”


Winning behaviour combines 3 interconnected elements – the Head, Heart Hands framework


How do 30% organizations succeed while others don’t seem to be able surmount the odds? What do they do differently and consistently that can help us increase our chances of success by as much as 80%? 

According to a study by BCG winning behaviour is characterized by three key elements working together – the Head, the Heart and the Hands of an organization. (exhibit 1)


  • The Head determines our north star. It tells us what we are doing and why it will ultimately be important to us. It defines our goals and reasoning behind it, it ensures every other part of the organisation is onboard with the plan.
  • The Heart cares for us when we work towards our goal. It tells whether we have the right talent in place, whether our employees are equipped and empowered with the right culture, knowledge and toolkits to get the everyday job done. In short, It keeps us going when the going gets tough.
  • The Hand gets the job done. It tells us when we have been successful and when we have not, what we could have done better, it is crucial for the accomplishment of that plan the head built.


Exhibit 1 

96% of organizations that fully engaged the Head, Heart and Hand achieved sustained performance improvement!


Prantik exemplifies this through his experience with Singpost “Not many people know that Singpost started their transformation journey 12-15 years back, paving a profitable path from a traditional postal business to e-commerce. They had the foresight and vision to chalk a strategic path when digitization hit the industry – the Head. Systematic and sustained execution – the Hands. But what I love about them is the Heart – during the transition period they invested in capability building, upskilling and showed utmost sensitivity in uplifting their traditional workforce.”


Make purposeful vision statements – avoid jargons, prioritize mindfully, create momentum 


In the first webinar as we delved into the role of the Head (exhibit 2), the one key message we were focussed on was that one to make transformation real & tangible one must begin by defining clear goals in simple, straightforward language.


When talking to organizations undergoing digital transformation if I were to ask them “What are you transforming into?”, I would most likely get a response like “We are transforming into a digital first organization, ready for the future, in order to deliver agile, customer-centric innovations to drive synergies across the customer life cycle.” – which is all the right things a company should want to be, but so heavy on jargons that it’s not quite specific and almost deliberately vague.


It’s great to want to be customer centric, but what does that really mean? How will a customer centric version of the company be different from the non-synergised, non-customer centric version today? As an employee, how will being all that make your everyday life in the company different? 


In fact Anthony advises companies to be very picky about their priorities and not try to do everything at once,  “There is a myth that transformation means changing everything simultaneously. Actually the most successful companies make very deliberate choices about specific areas where they want to be best-in-class first. By doing that they create a positive momentum of success to show impact and tangible results.”


Exhibit 2

Measure what matters, find your North Star – too many metrics spoil the broth!


To be able to measure success in various initiatives of Digital Transformation, it is crucial to identify your North Star metric. What is a good North Star metric? According to Anthony, it must be “simple, actionable and anchored on business outcomes.” 


As Prantik adds on “The measurability of digital can also be its shortfall. Just because we can measure everything on digital, doesn’t mean we should. First we must first understand what is that north star metric that is a leading indicator of revenue, profit and growth for the business, and then figure out how to measure it. For example Spotify can measure how many users they have, repeat customers, size of their playlists etc. but their north star metric is ‘time spent by users on Spotify’. Every function in the business from product to marketing optimizes for this one metric be it creating better recommendation engines or curated playlists.”


When you know where you are & where you want to go the the path becomes clearer


Ultimately it is important for organizations especially senior leaders to be cognizant of the big picture, actively zoom out and figure out the architecture of the transformation you need to go through to achieve what you want. 


Lack of a clear roadmap is one of the key challenges nascent companies face and that is exactly why it is critical to nail that blueprint right in the beginning – be it a maturity model or a strategy roadmap – everything follows that path and milestones thereafter.


As both Anthony and Prantik point out, “Digital Maturity is multidimensional and there is nothing wrong with being nascent in one’s maturity today. But what is important is to acknowledge where you are, set the ambition and define your priorities.”


Watch out for the Heart and the Hands!


Hopefully these nuggets of wisdom from our experts from BCG and Happy Marketer has helped you get that much closer to demystifying digital transformation.

We will continue to address the gap between digital transformation’s ambition and execution through our focus on the Heart and the Hand in the next two webinars on 6th Oct and 20th Oct 2020.


Till then, take a step back and give some thought to “What are you transforming into?”.

Srotoswini Roy
Srotoswini Roy

Director Digital Transformation, quick-witted 🧠 with a silver tongue and a knack for getting things done ✅

At work, she channels her empathetic listening and articulate solutioning skills to cultivate strong, symbiotic relationships with clients 🤝, keeping a sharp eye on business growth both for her clients and her firm 📈

Off work, you’ll find her whipping up new dishes 🍲 inspired from her travels and her mother’s cookbook, planning her next vacation 🏖️, lost for hours in a book 📚, or dancing away to her heart’s content 💃🏻