‘Post-digital’ is a term increasingly coming into use in the business world, intended to reflect the fact that digital media and technology have become so commonplace, so much a part of our everyday lives, that the distinction between ‘digital’ and ‘analogue’ worlds no longer makes sense. Proponents of the term within the marketing sector argue that a post-digital world requires a post-digital marketing strategy: rather than digital media and technology being separate areas in their own right, they should permeate every aspect of the marketing business. Some offices, for example HSBC’s Global Marketing Division, have gone as far as to ban the word digital altogether, in order to encourage more integrated thinking.
While it’s certainly true that marketing strategies must be fully co-ordinated across all platforms, and that even traditionally analogue categories of marketing are gradually assimilating digital practices, it’s possible that rumours of the death of digital as a distinct category have been somewhat exaggerated. For companies still at early levels of digitalisation, a distinct set of digital goals, job titles, and the like are useful, and while the need for this should shrink as digitalisation progresses, the constant evolution of technology means that there will always be a place for specialists in integrating new programs and processes.
That said, the biggest trap a company looking to digitalise can fall into is what’s known in the USA as the ‘digital silo effect’ – where an entirely separate team dealing with digital matters becomes boxed off from the rest of the company, creating a situation where there are in effect 2 distinct marketing teams. It may not yet be time to ban the word digital altogether, but a concerted effort at integration of digital and traditional methods is essential to avoid the risk of an incoherent marketing strategy.