Google CMO Bootcamp Learnings: How to Kickstart Digital Transformation

Yesterday I spent the entire day at AIM Makati for the Google CMO Bootcamp. I joined an invite-only class by Google Philippines where they gathered the top marketing executives of the country for a whole day of accelerated learning on digital marketing and transformation. Expect a lot of articles about the learnings from the event but specifically for this piece I’d like to focus on several insights on how to kickstart and navigate digital transformation.

Why are you doing it?

First step: You need to clearly define why you are going to undergo digital transformation. You need a north star, an objective, or a goal so you can plot out your roadmap and strategies. Possible reasons can be: better customer engagement, create and offer new digital products and services, operational efficiencies, and new revenue sources.

Once you know why you can work on building the team for the job and selecting which organization it should fall under (usually with either Marketing or Operations).

You Learn by Doing

“Mas ok ang maabilidad kesa sa matalino.” – Overheard at the Google CMO Bootcamp

There is no whitepaper or guide that will tell you exactly what you need to do. If you will wait for research and case studies, you’ll get left behind. You just need to dive into it and do it. Initially go for quick wins and small projects as proof of concept. Once you have traction you can secure more budget and go for scale.

Margot Torres, EVP and Deputy MD of McDonald’s Philippines, said it well in the CMO panel. She shared that in 2011 they just made a decision to plunge into digital because that’s the only way they would get learnings. This is why they’ve been considered a pioneer in digital advertising for the last few years.

It’s the same case for Cebu Pacific. Candice Iyog, VP for Marketing of Cebu Pacific, shared that by doing a lot of experiments they were able to build multiple successful case studies. This led to them having the confidence to gradually shift advertising budgets from above-the-line to digital.

You Learn by Accepting Mistakes and Being Agile

Another important mindset to have is to accept mistakes. If you will be immobilized by fear after a few mistakes, you won’t get anywhere. Digital transformation is a difficult and long process. It’s inevitable that you won’t get everything right. You need to have the patience to endure the hard times and the agility to be able to change directions and pivot when needed.

You Learn by being Always Open

“The things we talked and learned about today might no longer be applicable in a few months. That’s how fast digital changes.” – Kent Mariano, Head of Marketing, Red Ribbon

Last, but definitely not the least, is that you need to accept that you will forever be learning in digital. Kent Mariano, a former client of mine in Jollibee and now the Marketing Head for Red Ribbon, shared during the sharing session that no one has it nailed down yet and that everyone will have to keep learning and improving as the months go by. I agree with him 1000% on this point. Digital platforms, by their iterative nature, change dramatically almost quarterly. New ad units, communication channels, and whole new platforms just appear out of nowhere and it’s easy to get left behind if you don’t have your ears to the ground.

Just go do, make mistakes, pivot quickly, and always learn. That’s the most practical and no nonsense approach to digital transformation.

This post is part of our Google CMO Bootcamp Learnings series. Click links below to read our other posts.

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Carlo Ople

Author Carlo Ople

Founder and writer of and for full disclosure I'm also the Vice-President for Digital Marketing Strategy of PLDT/Smart, the largest telco in the Philippines. Prior to this I co-founded a digital advertising agency (DM9 Digit) which we sold to Dentsu, the largest single branded agency in the world. I also co-founded one of the biggest tech websites in the country, Unbox ( Views do not represent PLDT/Smart and are purely my own.

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