Mention the words “digital strategy” and people will immediately start nodding! Everyone loves the idea of a digital strategy. After all, the world around is increasingly becoming digitalised – from payments, banking, getting a taxi to ordering a coffee. There is an expectation that if you’re not digital you’re going to be eaten up by a high tech giant or a technology start up that is digital. So it is no wonder that digital is a hot topic right now.
But actually, if you take a step back and ask yourself what is digital and what is the objective of the digital strategy – it is quite a tricky question!. The problem is that everyone in a organisation has their own idea of what is digital. Each person has a different understanding and expectation, and that in turn can veer the digital strategy in different directions. The shared objective is consequently lost, and the pursued digital strategy starts to crumble. So, in this post i have gathered insights from a couple of sources to help understand digital:
Why have a Digital Strategy?
Digital Strategy – An Explanation from Smart Insights…
It is worth highlighting some of the reasons why an organisation needs a digital strategy. Dave Chaffey from Smart Insights suggests 10 Reasons Why You Need A Digital Strategy – Dave’s article is with reference to digital marketing but it is a great read, and as i went through it, it raised some great points that are applicable across industries. In fact, the points suggest both reasons why an organisation may need a digital strategy and reasons why the digital strategy is failing:
- The company does not have a digital strategy (see below) and does not have clear goals
- Customer requirements are not understood
- Competitors and new start-ups are building up their capabilities, and if not already will be competing with you
- You’re existing proposition is weak
- The customer is not understood
- There is little cross organisation integration – the silo effect is rampant
- Digital opportunities are not understood and not resourced
- There is duplication across the organisation
- There is a realisation that the company is failing to compete
- The customer experience is not great, and is not improving
The key message that comes across is recognising the shortfall, understanding the customer and the digital opportunity….
What is a Digital Strategy?
Digital Strategy – The view from Accenture…
Mark McDonald from Accenture nicely explains in What is a digital strategy?:
- “Digital is the application of information and technology to raise human performance”
- This is an interesting and important distinction because Mark is saying that digital is NOT a specific technology (big data, cloud, mobile, social media….) but is the use or application of different technologies
- “Digital is an adjective describing increasing information intensity and connectedness of physical resources
- The way to become digital is by digitising – i.e. enabling information intensity and connectedness by using technology
- Digitalisation enables companies to take part in the digital economy
- But importantly Mark explains that digitalisation must be done in a way that recognises the value of the transformation so that it captures and drives new opportunities and growth
- “Strategy is setting the direction, sequencing the resources and making commitments”
For me, these definitions are pretty cool. They provide clarity to words that are sometimes used interchangeably, which can cause confusion.
Digital Strategy – The word from McKinsey & Company…
In the article What ‘Digital’ really means, McKinsey describe that digital is not a product, it is “more a way of doing things”. To explain this McKinsey outline 3 key digital considerations:
- Scrutinising the way in which your business currently works, recognising industry and customer trends and using these to unleash new opportunities
- Reviewing how to improve your customer experience irrespective of the channel being used. McKinsey identify 4 key areas for this:
- Understand your customer and delivering personalised and relevant information to him/her
- Understanding how (the channels) through your customer interacts with you, and improving their experiences across the touchpoints
- Automating the customer experience and ensuring consistency of service regardless of the channel, time or device
- Innovating to better serve the customer
- Creating an organisation that is nimble and fast by:
- Nourishing a mentality that encourages collaboration and innovation
- Implementing an IT system and architecture that enables constant optimisation and connectivity across devices, objects and people
A Digital Strategy is all about the Customer
Ok, so this is how i see it… A digital strategy is a process which focuses on the customer – giving the customer what they want, when they want it and in a consistent manner regardless of how they are interacting with you. Clearly technology plays an important part in this strategy, but it is an enabler of the strategy. The challenge is understanding what the customer wants, and keeping up with those requirements as their habits and lifestyles change.
What do you think? I would love to hear your comments on this topic below…