“Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results, that’s the definition of insanity.” Will the same tools take you to new places?

The World is indeed facing a new Era. A new Fully Digitalized Era that is changing so fast that we are having a tough time catching up with it. It has been like that in our personal lives – we notice our digitally native children using technology not as an end, but as a mean – as well as in our businesses.

I have heard many concerned business owners and top executives frustrated that they cannot fully understand the changing scenario and having to listen to agencies and consultants with their own hidden private agenda.

Businesses transform themselves because societies change. If they don’t, they close down. It doesn’t matter how big or how successful you have been in the past. We have seen the recent closing of traditional iconic businesses in the United States such as Toys R Us and Sports Authority – two businesses that were reluctant in adopting digital into the core of their strategies. Companies that don’t see this change coming have a limited life time. The digital era is brutal and somewhat misunderstood.

However, some companies are indeed struggling to understand that change is a constant and are still trying to do business the same way that got them where they are. Guess what, this will not work for the next 10 years. Maybe not even for the next 3! Having your same old traditional advertising agency leading you into the new era sounds like your 80 year old grandfather taking you to surf for the first time. So, should you go after a cool millennial-run digitally native agency then? Nope.

It can be overwhelming when you have your marketing team and agency are telling you something and your board and benchmarks are pointing the other way. Who is right and what should you do?

I will share with you my 20 years’ experience being digital-business native, having managed start-ups, as well as regional corporate businesses. I strongly believe that there is an optimal balance between the fast-paced millennial junior team understanding and the more experienced senior team (who have seen business cycles come and go).

Here are 5 of my secret tips on how to choose the right partner to help you understand the new Fully Digitalized Era and perform the digital transformation your business needs.

1. Choose balance over hype.
Not an old school consultant neither an old school advertising agency. In fact, these businesses are undergoing huge transformations themselves as they realized that they do not have the right set of skills in-house to serve current business needs. We have seen over the past 2 years strategic consulting firms acquiring digital agencies and technology firms to be able to deliver value to their clients. Look for a company that navigates both worlds in order to provide you with a solid business overview but also a fresh nimble innovative approach towards understanding the Digital Ecosystem.

2. Do not believe in miracle solutions (and you will want to believe in them)!
Digital transformation covers every single aspect of the business. It is not a super ecommerce launch that will recover market share, it is not a fully automated artificial intelligence customer service support that will recover NPS indexes. Digital is daily, disciplined and integrated hard work. It will not help to have different people managing different aspects of “Digital”. First move is to centralize, integrate operations digitally and then, when the discipline is in place, decentralize and delegate digital into the different business units.

3. Start outside, move inside.
Can you do a digital transformation by yourself? Probably, but at what cost? My recommendation is to get external help that will refresh, disrupt and bring a new way of thinking your business. Just like when you begin training (to lose weight, to get in shape or to run a marathon) having someone tell and show the shortcuts will save you time and money – most of the time! It is only after your business has fully understood and learned from external benchmarks can you move internally the responsibility to continue this transformation.

4. Digitally native does not mean business-digital ready.
Please do not make the mistake of thinking that any digitally native youngster understands the digital business environment. They don’t. They are not ready yet. Even though the millennials are fast learners, multi-taskers, ambitious, most of the time they lack the maturity and years of experience to understand the big picture. The Universities in Brazil – for bureaucratic reasons unfortunately – are not preparing undergraduates well enough, fast enough for the digital business World. This young generation needs guidance, but from someone who understands the intersection between business and digital – and here lies the challenge for companies and managers.

5. Digital agencies need to know how talk to Board members, not only to the marketing team.
There are many, many talented professionals out there in digital agencies. There aren’t that many who can talk business at an executive level – at a Board meeting. I often seen digital agencies being guided by hype and not business oriented drivers – and many times misguided by marketing teams themselves who want to jump on the next cool movement there is out there to prove they are updated and using state-of-the-art tools and technology. Choose a partner who can deliver the right balance between being hype tech-savvy and “show me the money” business focused.

By reviewing the most successful companies in the new millennium we can clearly notice that those are the ones who understood change in consumer behavior and anticipated market changes developing stronger digital channels and integrating business units around a unique digital strategy. And on an individual level, top executives who have performed successful digital transformations are tomorrow’s global business leaders. Actually, not tomorrow. Todays.

The clock is ticking, yet there is always time for good decisions. Make one now, before it is too late.