Transferring the business to the digital environment – Everything that needs to be considered

Many companies face the challenge of finding a suitable successor in order to transfer meaningfully the work produced throughout their lives to the next generation. A successful preparation for a smooth handover of the business is characterised by numerous factors. While classic topics such as operating procedures, production details, overall economic status etc. are often brought to the fore, the equally important digital construction kit and its components are often forgotten. In a digital-driven time, when defining a digital succession, the central questions for both sides must be considered and asked timely.

Optimally, the business can already be handed over to someone young and “wild”. This is because, the future generation has grown up alongside all sorts of digital topics and is well prepared in terms of knowledge on the subject matter. The millennials are all about digitisation, have a high affinity for the current technical agenda and see the smartphone as their second home base. However, the experience of the next generation with the fast-paced channels also implies that there must be enough time for handover with regard to technical features and knowledge.

In practice, this does not always happen smoothly and problem-free. It is exactly because of the different attitudes, formative experiences, relevant ideas and, unfortunately, also misconceptions as well as superficial knowledge that the need for information between the old and the new world increases. Thus, the handover of the company highlights a strong discrepancy between the predecessor and the successor. Occasionally, the digital channels are completely forgotten and a meaningful transfer, which will play an important role in the feature of the company, can occur in an inadequate manner. All this can be prevented with targeted questions and a comprehensive preparation.

Inventory: every detail has to be documented

We have already learned that data is everything and that without data, there is no online presence. A detailed inventory has to be done and central questions need to be asked. What data is available in the company and who owns it? Is there documentation about the hardware and software, as well as CRM systems and databases in use? Who is responsible for the department and what is the planning for the next months/years? Is the company already compliant with GDPR or is there room for improvement? What happened to the most important customer data, how is it managed? Who is the “lord of the data”? And what is the digital marketing strategy in general? It can be seen that a quick answer to the most important questions is not enough if you need sound information and, above all, acquiring such information needs time. The structure and processing of the digital areas are crucial in order to avoid pre-programmed chaos.

When it comes to data protection, it is advisable to appoint a central contact person – if that has not already been done. The data protection officer assumes the responsibility for the company acting in accordance with the GDPR. He/she knows how the most important customer data was previously managed and how it is managed in accordance with GDPR. He/she also knows what kind of data needs to be withdrawn and where there is still need for action in terms of data protection.

Who does what?

The management of partners and resources must also be precisely documented. For instance, if a company works with a digital agency, then it must be clear at a glance which tasks are done internally and which externally. In addition, the amount of the budget available for digital activities should be known as well as how these activities are embedded in the overall marketing strategy. ‘Business plan’ is the keyword: the strategic orientation of the company for the coming years is also a point that must be taken into account during the digital handover. The question as to which digital channels are already in use and with which the company would like to engage more in the future also belongs here. Of course, it must also be clear to whom the most important accounts belong and where the access data for the different channels are located. It is especially important to know which persons/partners have access to the systems.

With all these questions, it is ultimately a luxury to talk about methods of performance evaluation and control. However, the corresponding KPI (Key Performance Indicators) and OKR (Objective Key Results) matching shows quickly to what extent the company to be taken over had already been digitalised.

  • What data is available in the company?

  • Who does this data belong to?

  • Is there any documentation about the hardware and software?

  • Which CRM systems and databases are in use?

  • Wer ist für den Fachbereich zuständig?

  • Who is responsible for the department?

  • Is the company already set up in compliance with the GDPR or is there room for improvement?

  • What happened to the most important customer data and how is it managed?

  • Who is the “master of the data”?

  • What does the digital marketing strategy look like in general?

  • Which tasks are carried out internally and which externally?

  • How are digital activities embedded in the overall marketing strategy?

  • Which digital channels are already being used?

  • Who do the most important accounts for the advertising belong to?

  • Which digital channels does the company want to use more intensively in the future?

  • Where are the access data for the various channels?

  • Which methods of success control and evaluation are used?

  • Who has access to the systems?

  • Which methods of success control and evaluation are used?