Digital transformation – why is it the buzzword of the moment?

By Anna Rivers, Marketing Manager, memcom

Alex Skinner is the co-founder of Pixl8 Group – a London-based creative technical consultancy and digital products business with a wide reach into the membership sector. Alex’s vision – to harness the potential of digital to solve complex business challenges – has taken Pixl8 Group from a start-up with innovative ideas in 2001, to an established agency that consistently delivers above and beyond.

Ahead of Alex’s session at the upcoming memcom conference – he’ll be telling us why we should really be expecting more from our delivery partners – I had the opportunity to quiz him about what the key drivers of digital transformation are, whether it really is a necessary ‘disruption’ and how to navigate through the quagmire …

From Alex’s perspective, few genuine digital transformation projects are actually happening currently in the world of membership and NFP. Digital projects yes. But transformation from the top down, no.  

“We’re seeing a rather risk-averse attitude, with procurement relying on technical consultants who are wrapping up their technically-led solutions as ‘digital transformation’ when in reality they’re just digital projects. They are often not tackling organisation-wide change. To make a difference, a digital transformation agency shouldn’t be coming in half-way through a project. Their experience is needed from the onset. In the boardroom, honing the strategic objectives alongside the client. Digital ambitions can be realised when projects are well-defined, discussed and developed from the get-go. Consultants can suggest fantastic technology but what if there’s no buy in from the board or it simply doesn’t make a meaningful difference? What if there’s a lack of willingness to really see it through? What can happen is that an organisation’s culture can get in the way of agility and, as a result, not make best use of time and resources.”

Not-for-profits can lack the financial flexibility of commercial enterprises. We hear lots about experimenting and getting comfortable with failure – how can membership organisations, often with limited budgets, cope with this?

“Any digital transformation project should start with a discovery phase. There’s no getting away from the fact that change management will require a degree of adaptation. A percentage of budget should go towards the unknowns – we need to hypothesise; we need to A/B test to push forward. Diverting budgets to delve deeper can really reap rewards.”

“It’s about being brave and having ambition when budgets are tight. Many organisations are focusing on sorting out basic, antiquated tech but take a step back. Is your ambition being limited? By just covering the basics, you may be de-risking a project but are your taking a hit on the experience for your members? Don’t set objectives at a low level.

What are the potential pitfalls and why do some digital strategies lag or even fail?

“Strategies normally fail when there’s a lack of clear objectives and KPIs aren’t in place to evaluate success at reaching key targets at key times. Also, when there’s a feature-led approach – I really want X, without really asking why. Be more challenging.”

In a world of heightened cyber security risks, ensuring that data and transactions are secure is business critical to us all. The Pixl8 Group also owns Trusted Cyber Solutions, offering expert consultancy from information security professionals and a suite of services to guard organisations from current and emerging threats. Cyber security used to be seen as a problem for the IT sector. As Alex points out, the legacy of GDPR is pretty useful in moving IT issues organisation-wide.

“The Achilles heel of large-scale digital projects is that, in gathering more data and more personalisation, we open ourselves up to more risk from a cyber-security point of view. Organisations nowadays have huge access to data but most people aren’t fully aware of the cyber risks and potential intrusions into the system. Do you have two-step authentications? How good are your firewalls? We need to adopt a minimalistic approach to access rather than an open culture. A need-to-know basis.”

To end with, what are the hottest digital topics or opportunities around at the moment?

“High on everyone’s agenda is obtaining an aggregated, consistent and holistic representation of the data known about each member. This ‘single customer view’, tracking members across every channel is getting a lot of air-time. But what next? Again, we go back to setting your ambitions high from the onset and getting the why right before embarking on any digital project. Use every nugget of data you get to help your organisation transform.”

Digital transformation – the buzzword of the moment – and it takes a profound transformation of organisational activities and mindsets, to really achieve it. Processes, competencies and models from the board room downwards must be transformed to fully leverage the changes and opportunities that a mix of digital technologies and their accelerating impact can offer. In a strategic and prioritised way…

To further help you in your journey towards digital transformation, here are some case studies which should hopefully steer you in the right direction…


Alex Skinner is running a session at the upcoming memcom conference on 20th June. Launched in 2000, memcom has consistently led the way in thought leadership in the membership sector for over two decades. memcom is the largest peer networking event for leaders in membership, attracting an expected 500+ delegates with an extremely high level of seniority. Senior leaders are drawn to memcom to learn, to collaborate, forge new relationships and discover new ideas. And in our 20th anniversary year, it’s shaping up to be a truly unmissable event. Tickets for this year’s full day conference are still available.


Here’s a summary of what to expect from Alex’s session…


Digital Transformation – you should expect more…

Speaker: Alex Skinner, Pixl8 Group

Stream 1, 11.30-12.00

Digital transformation has overtaken engagement as the zeitgeist aspiration. While most organisations want to achieve this, many can be nervous, anxious or even battle-weary when they think about how to achieve the vision. As the digital industry matures, clients can come with ‘baggage’ when they consider new projects. Alex Skinner looks to debunk myths and rekindle the pioneering spirit of what digital solutions can give you and your members. He will consider some of the barriers to embarking on projects and put forward solutions outlining how they can be overcome. Hear how digital ambitions can be realised when projects are well defined, discussed and developed from the get-go. Get tips and insights as to how you, your teams and organisations can be more effective and strategic in your approach to content development, measuring, reporting and more. Understand what processes can support you and your team to deliver and consider what testing and refining can achieve. Let your systems serve your needs as Alex explores how integration can fuel, rather than fudge, development. Find out how collaboration can work more effectively, so that you bring people in at the right moment and communicate more effectively. Leave this talk with the confidence that your digital aspirations are attainable.