Today’s senior marketers in large organisations are setting unrealistic expectations for their company’s ability to execute on digital strategies, research by digital experiences company Acquia reveals.

The report finds that, while 83% of heads of digital believe that their strategy is fit for purpose, 65% also see implementing digital across the business as their number one strategic challenge, highlighting the huge gap between digital strategy and execution.

Among the challenges of digital execution include personalisation, managing content and website delivery. In terms of personalisation, one in three of heads of digital believe that customers’ unwillingness to share personal data is hindering progress, and 27% believe their teams lack the skills and knowledge required to personalise effectively. Where content is concerned, 45% struggle with the varying quality of content across different regions because of the different frameworks they use in each region. And where website delivery is concerned, 71% of CIOs and 50% of CDOs are frustrated by the amount of time it takes to spin up a new site, whether that’s for a new region or new product.

Sylvia Jensen, vice president of marketing in EMEA at Acquia, said: “One of the main reasons large organisations struggle with digital execution isn’t necessarily lack of budget or skills, it’s because they haven’t got the right technology in place. Often large organisations take a piecemeal approach to digital, which means that when the company grows, the different aspects of the digital setup don’t work well together, and that causes huge frustrations for marketers trying to manage a brand — especially on a global level.

“The wrong technology setup makes jumping on the latest digital trends so much harder. And when marketers try to justify their decision to pursue digital to the board, often they’re met with barrier after barrier. The result is that brands start to see digital as a ‘tool’ rather than something that needs embedding within the culture of the business.”

Where senior management is concerned, Acquia’s research finds that more than one in three senior marketers feel they lack the support of the board when it comes to digital — and half feel they lack support from direct team members and other departments, pointing to a much wider digital culture problem within organisations.

But despite these issues, there is some positive news as three quarters are looking to adopt a continuous improvement mindset, regularly gaining feedback from external stakeholders and customers on how they can improve — with the aim of bridging the gap between digital strategy and execution.


By Jonathan Davies, editor, Digital Marketing Magazine

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