Leveling up and future-proofing your digital strategy is not optional. It is key to survival. All brands now wish to accelerate some type of business growth through digital, be it brand, revenue, or reputation. This requires digital fluency at all levels and within all teams. Building a digital center of excellence is now a recognized model for delivering efficiency and innovation at scale.
Plenty of businesses rely upon pockets of experts or solitary teams to deliver digital excellence. Marketers with a fundamental understanding of best practices find themselves responsible for digital strategy well outside of their job description.
This is an outdated and inefficient approach that stifles innovation, causes burnout, and does not equip local marketing teams with the centralized intelligence they need.
Sabrina Rodriguez, Global Head of Digital Marketing at Ericsson, has spent years helping brands build a digital center of excellence. During this time, she has curated several best practices that can make, or break, a digital center of excellence.
A digital center of excellence embeds a new way of working and often involves building a new team. This can take years. Providing value quickly by identifying low-hanging fruit helps manage expectations.
“Ericsson is in year one (of its digital center of excellence journey) and has embedded a proper media excellence framework and briefing process. What an SLA is, how to work with agencies, all of it is written down.”
When it comes to bigger issues down the road, pointing to early wins can reduce friction and secure the additional investment, time, and talent you need.
A digital center of excellence is a catalyst for change. It comes down to relationships and building trust.
“Do your stakeholder mapping. Identify your influencers. Invest in those relationships. Find your superusers and build relationships from the bottom up.”
Whilst digital centers of excellence require investment from above, they also require support from below. It is never possible without people on board. Securing influence at all levels is a crucial foundation.
When brands operate globally, complex organizational structures threaten communication between teams. This has a two-way effect. Local teams are not equipped with information and resources at the velocity they need, and central teams lack the on-the-ground insights that can define digital strategy.
“Ericsson launched a quarterly digital summit. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Not all the best ideas and innovations will come from one team. Other teams can be much nimbler with their innovation so it’s important to communicate horizontally across your teams.”
Whilst quick wins are important, moving quickly at the expense of foundational steps can leave you wading through treacle. Invest in the right data, build a cohesive plan, and communicate this effectively to all those affected by digital transformation.
“Mistakes are made when people want to come in and quickly and change a lot with no long-term plan. Make sure you have strong foundations, so the house doesn’t crumble after you’ve built the first floor.”
Building a digital center of excellence is not easy. But it is crucial to helping businesses steer through the short-term and long-term stormy waters that threaten their survival. To discover more about the role marketing leaders can play in delivering a digital center of excellence, tune in to the ClickZ Marketing Masters Podcast.
00:11 – Introduction
00:41 – What makes a great marketing leader?
02:34 – What is a digital center of excellence, why is it so powerful, and how does it differ from a practice area?
08:12 – What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned about building a digital center of excellence?
12:23 – What can make a digital center of excellence fail?
13:48 – How does a hub and spoke model help to deliver centralized intelligence to local teams?
15:33 – How is the marketing landscape changing and how would a digital center of excellence help marketing teams prepare?
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Sabrina Rodriguez is an international digital marketing transformation leader with 10+ years’ experience building award-winning teams and Global Centres of Excellence, always with the goal of fuelling business growth through scaled innovation and upskilling. As well as being an IPA Woman of Tomorrow Finalist and member of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation Alumni, Sabrina is an active industry speaker and juror, having supported the Drum’s Social Buzz Awards, CIPR Excellence Awards and IPA’s #SocialWorks committee specialising in measuring social effectiveness. Sabrina has also sat on multiple advisory boards, including Conversocial, Monotype & ClickZ.