It has become something of a cliché to talk about the magnitude of change impacting our society, change driven by IT and IT related trends – social, mobile, analytics and cloud – and yet, we can’t stop talking about it. Probably because it is no exaggeration to state that digitisation is a driving force no less game-changing than the invention of the Gutenberg press or the Spinning Jenny – inventions that literally changed the way that people live. And we are living right in the eye of that storm.

The word digitization simply refers to the process of transforming analogue images or signals to digital ones, but also has widespread use in referring to the impact of IT on the way we live now. We know what it is because generally speaking if you are reading this blog then you are most likely already a digital citizen. Which means that you are working as an information worker, you use multiple devices in the course of an ordinary day – phone, tablet, PC, you are as likely to read the news online as to read a newspaper, you belong to at least one social network and you are as likely to shop online as in store – and more likely to ‘channel-hop’ – using the internet, mobile and in store experiences to make decisions about larger purchases. And we marvel at how quickly this has come about – so much so that eyes glaze over at the mere mention of these incredible facts. Yes, we’ve talked about it a lot.  And we know it is happening because we live it. But something is happening when we walk into the office that stops us from acting on it.

As Chief Digital Officer for Capgemini it is my role and responsibility to care about the impact of digitisation not only on the livelihood of my company, but also by nature of the work that Capgemini does – on the livelihood of the organisations that might come to Capgemini seeking advice. That’s why I was particularly interested to look at the results of a recent piece of research jointly undertaken by Microsoft and Capgemini – looking at the impact of digitisation on the function of marketing, and examining the maturity of digital marketing in UK firms. I was fascinated by the results of the research because while as a digital citizen, I and many others are increasingly comfortable with this multi-channel reality, in contrast, the research reveals many UK organisations failing to keep pace with digital innovation in the part of the organisation that needs it most – marketing.  What stood out for me is the incongruity of the results. Essentially – the importance of digital marketing is well understood, but reality is a long way behind this understanding. While over 80% of respondents state that digital marketing is important to long term profitability – 60% of respondents are investing less than a third of their budgets in digital marketing. Only 7% have developed a single view of the customer across multiple data sources, and just 3% are using big data for predictive analytics. Of 118 organisations regarding themselves as mature digital marketers – only 50 are active in mobile advertising. This is most startling to me when I look around me on my commute to the office – there isn’t a passenger without a mobile device in hand.

How can it be the case that we have talked about these trends so often and so much that they barely raise an eyebrow? And yet – many organisations continue to starve their marketing organisation of the very tools they need to address them. At very least, without a single joined up view of the customer, it is very difficult to see how an organisation can start to behave cohesively in their interactions with their customers. Today I would go so far as to say that an organisation without a minimum of CRM, analytics, marketing automation and social listening tools in place cannot do marketing.

Hindsight gives us that vaunted perfection of vision we are all too familiar with – of course it was obvious in retrospect that weavers in competition with Hargreaves needed to similarly modernise or die. And yet today, with all of the advantages of a modern education that draws on the lessons of the past, we are still slow to adopt – even when our own behaviour as consumers makes it abundantly clear that we know what we need to do.