Digital is table stakes for brands today. All brands have digital functionality and data, whether it be mobile applications, e-commerce platforms, social media, CRM data or click-through rates on advertising impressions. However, many brands fail to optimize digital strategies and leverage the full range of data available. At Gartner L2, I have spent nearly two years collaborating with my peers to benchmark brands’ digital strategies, and in 2018, Gartner L2 benchmarked 1,872 brands. In January, we published the In The Company of Genius report to analyze the similarities and differences of the 57 brands Gartner L2 deemed Genius.

So, what makes a brand a Genius? The Gartner L2 Digital IQ Index (DIQ) analyzes over 1,250 data points across four dimensions: Site & E-Commerce, Digital Marketing, Social Media and Mobile. Brands are scored based on sophistication across these dimensions and their overall score is indexed to an average of 100 and the brand is then classified as Genius, Gifted, Average, Challenged or Feeble. Genius brands do not always resemble each other in size, age and composition but often align with key similarities in their approach to digital strategy. The report identifies six commonalities across Genius brands. Here is insight into one.

Genius brands…

  • Report tangible metrics to public markets to highlight the digital health of their organizations and ensure leaders with digital knowledge are present throughout an organization

As many brands release fourth quarter earnings, it is an interesting time to analyze how brands speak about digital when reporting to the public. Geniuses report tangible metrics (positive and negative) that highlight the digital health of their organizations and how digital impacts the broader customer experience. In earnings calls, over 70% of publicly traded Geniuses in the United States either report digital sales or digital growth.

For example, Home Depot and Best Buy, Genius brands from the Big Box US study, break out the specific percentage of revenue that comes from online sales to highlight the digital performance of the organization. Target did not earn the Genius distinction and was not as transparent when highlighting the digital performance of the organization during earnings calls. The retailer only mentioned digital growth, making it challenging to identify the actual share of sales coming from digital channels.

Furthermore, digital Geniuses weave leaders with both a breadth and depth of digital knowledge into their organizations to ensure that digital excellence starts from the top. Nearly half of digital Geniuses incorporate a chief digital officer into their c-suites.

Best Buy’s board of directors also includes leaders with impressive digital experience including J. Patrick Doyle, the former CEO of Domino’s Pizza who led the organization through an era of digital innovation and excellence. Four of twelve Best Buy board members have backgrounds rooted in digital. The organization’s leadership indicates a prioritization of a digital first mindset. In 2018, Sears fell far below the digital brands leading the Big Box DIQ. The recently deceased retailer incorporated no leader with extensive digital experience into its board of directors indicating a failure to prioritize digital. For more insights on Genius brands’ digital strategies consult Gartner L2’s In The Company of Genius report.

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