Michael Paige of R2integrated On How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level

Michael Paige is the Chief Digital Officer of the award-winning digital experience agency R2integrated. As an Adobe Summit and Adobe Virtual Summit speaker with over 25 years of experience in the digital space, Michael has a keen understanding of what works and doesn’t work in the digital realm. In this article, we discuss key strategies and approaches for succeeding with digital transformation, focusing on organizational extensibility, dos and don’ts of personalization, and the importance of the human aspect in the digital.    
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I started out my career as a developer, so it’s funny to see how the industry has come to a point where it really doesn’t require much development. What it does require is an understanding of how to piece together best-in-class technology into something that makes sense for your organization. Part of what’s pushing this transformation is that it is no longer just a core group of IT nerds and some back-office, but it’s on all levels of the C-suite. Watching the industry transform is super exciting.  
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I have had many first starts and barrels full of mistakes, but the most cringeworthy was as a new manager demonstrating an interactive app that linked out to point of sale images on a webserver for a massive beverage brand, and every link (close to 30 of them) were to CRAP.html. I learned never to trust a programmer whose nickname was Smoker and drove a 70 Trans AM. Plus, consumer packaged goods executives are humorless, but agencies are forgiving and forgetful.  
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Slaughterhouse 5; Billy and I always seem to be a little unstuck in time with clearly varying results.  
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
R2i has recently prescribed to being a purpose driven business and has seen greater focus in every aspect of the business around a single shared goal. As a result, our partnerships and opportunities have flourished.  
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation in itself has transformed; for years it was always about platform extensibility and how you can create a future-proof system. However, in the last two years it’s been about organizational extensibility: how can your organization change, add new capabilities and new functional imperatives and shift how people work in roles. This happens as a result of a new piece of technology that has improved processes and has taken time and effort to implement. So it really is about how your organization can be ready to embrace that change.
Engaging in a digital transformation is the part that is probably the most challenging, but also the most exciting. Digital transformation is pivoting the conversation to impact and outcomes. Informed organizations are excited about the change and how their job is going to be different, rather than historically somewhat horrified by the prospect. Implementation has become about winning hearts and minds and understanding that organizational extensibility is the key to success in transformation. The absolute key and the rest of it is just product capability and workflows.  
Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?
At this point, especially during the pandemic, if you have not implemented digital transformation, you should start. If you don’t, you’re losing money and you’re losing more every day. You’re not able to variate your message quickly or you’re not able to sell product. Most of our customers were shocked with how far behind they were. Even some of our larger enterprise customers are just now taking stock of where they are and are understanding that they have some significant gaps, and those significant gaps are preventing them from realizing the benefit of some of the tech that they’ve invested in.
Because it is an ecosystem, you just do not build a website anymore — it almost doesn’t matter. You need software that allows you to build experiences and then share those experiences across any channel at any time you encounter a customer. In order to do that, you need content creation, you need data, and then you need the pipes to make sure that the content can be matched to the individual, that the data is telling you what that customer wants to hear.
To accomplish that, you need to have all the pieces in line. You need to have an expert generation machine. You need to have a data machine. You need to have the ability to transact. So you need a commerce engine. You need analytics to understand where the sticking points are. A new CMS is just not going to produce the results you need.  
We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.
Organizational extensibility is key. All of this tech is mostly cloud based, so it’s getting updated every day without you even knowing it. You have new functionality and continuous improvement. The organization needs to embrace that and remember the customer is really the focus for all of this. No matter what you do in your organization, if there is a piece of technology, a bit of data, an optimization on the site that can further their business, they need to understand what that technology is and be able to communicate the how. Everyone needs to know how they’re going to impact it. You do not have to be a programmer — these are not things that require any technical ability. You just need to know, for example, here is a tool, like a hammer, like a screwdriver, like a ratchet: ‘how am I going to use it to solve my problem?’ And if you as an organization don’t adopt that mentality, then you’re not going to use those tools.
That is the mentality that companies must get into. The whole organization needs to be conscious of: ‘how can transformation impact my goals?’ If we can get the organization to extend how they think about these tools or how they think about their jobs, I think that’s the missing piece — transformation is a shift in attitudes.  
Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
You can’t start without starting, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s just shocking the amount of attrition organizations have. They are so afraid of potentially having an uptick in sales or revenue, that they won’t even be able to process them. They’re afraid of being crushed by demand.
I am talking to a mid-sized manufacturer and their entire enterprise is short-staffed. When I spoke to the head of digital, I said: ‘we’ll start here and in doing that we will pick the most fringe segment, and of that test maybe a 10th of the population. Let’s just see within that small group what can happen, from that, we can extrapolate the impact.’ It’s really about getting them to not be afraid of potentially being successful.
I’m in the relationship business. I’m in the people business, without question. I am trying to make people feel good about technology and trying to build relationships with them and that technology to accelerate their ability to be successful in life. I want them to work less.  
Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
Create an owner of the transformation effort.
Engage your people deeply into the process.
Re-asses who you need as employees to be successful, then cross-train and hire ahead.
Do not skimp on change management and training in the project budget.
Brand it! Create a campaign around the movement to generate excitement.  
In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?
Create a citizen data scientist. Innovation comes from information and many companies are starved of it.
The most basic way to start this is with digital properties — they are transient by nature. Show a marketer the power of changing a button label or a color, or maybe moving something from up top to below the scroll, or flipping a switch on something as simple as category affinity; you like bikes, here are more bikes. There are very basic steps to get content that is more relevant and messaging that proves more successful to increase engagement.
Those simple things can impact clickthrough and ‘add-to-cart,’ and they’re very, very simple. But you need that mentality in your organization to realize that these tools are there for you to drive revenue. And then you have to ask yourself: ‘well, how do I drive revenue?’ Then that starts the exploration of: ‘do I change the messaging? Do I change the color? What can we do to test and learn to see what our users are doing?’
That’s really the first step in personalization, and in doing so, you are learning and gathering data on interactions. Oftentimes we think personalization is this massive, data-driven complexity — it really isn’t it. It really is: ‘we’re not sure if any of this is going to work, but we’ll know more after 15 days.’ If we see an uptick, maybe we flip that to the ‘always on’ experience and we see a lift in basket size by one percent. Now, depending on the size of the company, one percent could be a lot, but more importantly the lift costs us a few hours of thought and a few double clicks.  
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Chance favors the prepared mind.” It’s a mantra that keeps me paying attention and always trying to understand context.  
How can our readers further follow your work?
Thank you so much for these insights! This was very inspirational and we wish you continued success in your great work.    
Click here to read the original article from Authority Magazine.

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