Speed Is The Key To Sustainability In Current Marketplace
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Speed Is The Key To Sustainability In Current Marketplace

Bob Steelhammer, CDO, Vista Outdoor
Bob Steelhammer, CDO, Vista Outdoor

Bob Steelhammer, CDO, Vista Outdoor

Bob Steelhammer is the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at Vista Outdoor. Starting his career as a leader in leading IBM's Technology Group eCommerce, Bob has spent 24 years as a steersman in "Customer First" Digital Marketing and Ecommerce Transformation. He also founded the award-winning agency, the Steelhammer Group that has enabled severalbusinessesto realize the full potential of their digital and eCommerce investments. At Vista Outdoor, he is currently responsible for leading digital marketing, eCommerce, and information technology (IT) divisions.

How do you see growing companies using the power of data?

Data is the cornerstone of any business. It enables organizations to focus their digital transformation and growth objectives.

Data has also become important from an e-commerce and digital marketing standpoint. For example, businesses todaycangather data from emails, web sessions, and search. By rightly using such large datasets, they can detect potential customers intent and interested in their product portfolio or brand. Also, the critical insights gained enable organizations to better design their marketing campaigns. Apart from sales data, using web sessions, businesses can gather insights into customers' buying experiences. This directly helps them evaluate products, services and user experiences and transform, or upgrade, any service or product based on consumer demands.

What are some of the challenges businesses face during their digital transformation journey?

The biggest challenge for businesses undergoing digital transformation is changing their company culture. Digital transformation is not just about incorporating digital tools and mediums; it is also about making the organization ready to conduct daily operations differently after digital transformation. As digital transformation provides the companies with more dynamic customer data, it becomes a direct responsibility of the CEO, business presidents and CDO to transform the company’s pricing, product quality, and sales to serve consumers wherever and however they prefer to shop.

How do you think the pandemic disrupted people's lives and businesses by forcing significant changes in the way people work, shop, or interact?

Businesses that were not ready for the digital surge, or had just begun their transformation, faced severe challenges. Due to the abruptness of the pandemic, they were not able to build the necessary infrastructure or secure the talent in a timely manner.As a result, sales were reduced,and opportunitieswere missed.

At Vista Outdoor, we had started the digital transformation well before the pandemic through our Digital Center of Excellence. This Center of Excellence provides surge capacity, technical expertise and best-in-class digital resources to the over three dozen brands in our portfolio. This made our infrastructure ready during the disruptions and helped us serve end consumers as they ventured outdoors in record numbers. This included implementation of enterprise commerce, marketing and service platforms and the streamlining of supply chain operations to support our DTC channel. It also helped our B2B clients transform digitally and address customer requirements more optimally.

  ​We began Vista Outdoor’s digital transformation in 2018 when our newly appointed CEO, Chris Metz, took over and established the Digital Center of Excellence. This gave us a head start in the development of our digitaltalent and infrastructure prior to the surge of pandemic-fueled e-commerce activity. When the disruptions occurred, our team was ready and supported the end consumer as they ventured outdoors in record numbers

From the perspective of buyer behavior, online shopping was never explored to the extent it was during COVID-19. At the beginning of the pandemic, people did not have the option to visit physical stores due to lockdowns, and the wide variety and availability of products through online platforms promised convenient and safe way of shopping. Moreover, customers were attracted to online portals of brands over one-stop eCommerce facilities. This created the need for individual brands to prepare for increased online customer traffic and rapid product supply.

How do you envision the digital marketing and eCommerce space in the next couple of years?

Specific brands will develop customer interaction using digital tools, and the revenue percentage generated from direct-to-customer channels will witness a rise from 10-20 percent to 30-35 percent or greater. Businesses still undergoing a digital transformation must soon build the right infrastructure, teams and marketing to enjoy the rising revenue percentage.

What would be your piece of advice for your fellow peers and leaders?

Present market conditions require speed of operations. Oftentimes, organizations try to resolve a problem by using innovative solutions, but in today’s fast-paced world of ongoing digital transformation, these complex solutions can be counter to the end goal because they take too long. My advice is to invest minimal time to deploy the solutions:Identify the problem, create a solution, assign the right talent to address it and move quickly yet carefully. Those who don’t will be left behind.


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