Is developing a 2020 Digital Business Strategy a challenge for you? Many businesses are just confused by the word strategy, so much so that they just tend to ignore it.
Simply put, ‘strategy’ is a form of decision making that’s different from most other decisions because it’s forward looking, has a potentially massive impact on the business and is communicated in words rather than numbers (as opposed to a Business Plan for example). It tends too to be broad brush strokes rather than microscopic detail.
Strategy is often described as the ‘Why?’ – if you have time have a look at Simon Sinek’s stuff. Often, perhaps in the same breath, you might hear talk about ‘Objectives’ – the ‘What’, and ‘Tactics’ – the ‘How’.
Many believe that in today’s fast changing world, there’s little or no need to have a formal strategy or strategic planning process. It’s true that businesses are being challenged to be more flexible and responsive (see Neil Perkin’s thoughts on this) but it’s good practice to have a written reference point so that all those in the business – including external partners – understand the shape and direction you’re taking.
This isn’t something that’s set in concrete – it needs to be a ‘living’ document that recognises and responds to what’s happening around you – particularly the changing and varied needs of your customers – more on this in Digital Business Marketing.
Quite often strategy used to be set top down by the people at the top of the organisation (the HIPPO’s) and ‘cascaded’ through the business. Now, enlightened businesses actively engage people across the business especially those in direct contact with customers – bottom-up.
Digital Business Strategy involves weaving digital capabilities into your business rather than just treating it as an add on. These capabilities might include using social media for your marketing, online engagement tools for your staff and reviewing your IT and processes to give a quality customer experience – that they then share with their networks.
There is another particularly vital component –your leadership style and how you engage both inside and outside the business. Building a collaborative culture is essential – this is no easy task but it has to pervade your entire business from the Board to shopfloor.
How would you describe yourself and your approach to others? Are you ‘Open, Random and Supportive’ or ‘Closed, Controlling and Selective’? Try this questionnaire.
Setting up a business has never been easier – the digital tools available have significantly reduced both the costs and barriers to entry. With a website, you can be a global business from Day 1 if you want. These days, too, you don’t have to get it right first time and you can use lean start up strategies to minimise costs and time to market and find out if there are customers prepared to pay for your product or service.
For an existing business becoming digital is more problematic. You’ll have sunk costs, capital commitments you can’t walk away from, processes that have been added to over time and perhaps people without the skills and capabilities that your Digital Business 2020 needs. There’s not going to be any overnight transformation, but the change can be managed is a series of very pragmatic steps based on your pressing priorities.
Clearly there’s a need to fully understand your current business and the journey you’ve been on so far – there’s quite a bit of published material on how to assess where your are digitally at the moment – your digital maturity status. In addition to taking a look at your competitors, it’s good to explore this, not just with your management team and key external relationships like suppliers but customers too.
Similarly, you have access to Frontier’s Strategy Team for a ‘no commitment’ conversation. If you’d like to discuss this further, then do contact our Knowledge Community members such as William Buist and Chris Farrance. For related topics see also Digital Business Leadership, Digital Business Marketing, Digital Processes and Digital Business People.