Implementing Digital Strategies: Smarter, Faster, Better

It is no secret that the world of business is evolving at what can only be called a blistering pace. What worked yesterday may not function today and it could very well be outdated tomorrow. There is perhaps no better example of this modernization than in the world of evolving digital strategies. Of course, implementing a successful digital strategy to meet the core needs of any business can be easier said than done. This is the primary reason why the task is generally outsourced to professionals in the industry; they appreciate the bespoke needs and infrastructure of unique companies. So, what are some of the most effective tips to follow when one needs to finally enter into the digital domain? Let’s take a closer look.

Internal Concerns
Just as any business is built from the ground up, we first need to consider how a digital transformation will affect the workplace. Will daily jobs be impacted by the use of digital tools? How much information will need to be stored in the cloud? Who will have access to this data and perhaps most importantly, how much training will need to take place in order to complete the transition? Identifying these variables will enable management to make sound decisions at the right times.

In most cases, it is best to find a team of highly enthusiastic individuals that will act as “champions” in regards to your digital strategy. These players will offer the firm support which is necessary to begin the digital transition. As we are all aware, motivation within the business tends to be quite contagious. In turn, this will enable others to take an active interest in the change. It is also a good idea to create new roles within the company (Lead Digital Coordinator could be an example here). These roles will be attractive opportunities for those who are enthusiastic and astute; the exact type of personality that is ideal when entering the digital domain.

Understanding Approaches
Before actively implementing any digital strategy, it is important to appreciate which techniques are those that will be most attractive to the customers themselves. This will help to separate the business apart from competition which may still be lagging behind. Also, never forget that emerging technology is another critical factor. What may be considered state of the art today may very well not hold that title in the near future. Once the software and the approaches are determined, these need to be clearly communicated to all team leaders and stakeholders. Not only will this help to increase levels of inter-departmental accountability, but the strategies themselves will be much more functional as opposed to being handled piecemeal. Finally, clear communications will help you to determine the feedback from the customers. If a strategy seems not to be working, it can be changed before it becomes what could turn into a major issue.

Out With the Old?
Although the core operations of the business are not likely to change, embracing the digital world will likely lead to some modifications. For example, catering to a larger and more international client base within the virtual world could require office hours to be modified. As mobile apps increase client engagement, a larger CRM team could be required. The key takeaway here is that an organization needs to become streamlined in order for the end customer to obtain the best possible experience. Older top-down approaches may no longer work. Flexibility needs to be embraced within all teams. Communications are likely to become faster and thus, a centralized platform must remain in place to maintain control and cross-functional accountability.

Using Resources
So far, we have examined some of the basic methodologies that need to be embraced during the transition. Now, we need to look at execution. Keeping team structures in mind (IT, sales, marketing and finance), what resources are needed? For example, which demographic is likely to respond the best with this new strategy? How long will the product be in development before it becomes available to this buyer persona? How does a certain digital product or service resonate within this customer base? Not only will this enable the business to solidify their strategy, but all employees involved will be well aware of their discrete roles (a problem all too present within many companies that have recently undergone a digital shift).

Product Support
It is expected that any new digital product will come with its fair share of questions. Not only will these need to be addressed using in-house techniques meant for employees, but outbound and proactive customer support is vital. Of course, any such support structure should be in place well before the release date. This will also include the necessary training for the employees and any time frame should be built around the time it will take to develop a robust knowledge and support infrastructure. As there are so very many digital products within the marketplace, a business that lacks support is likely to lose valuable business while the customers will simply move on to a competitor.

Product Over Technology
The user cares more about the functionality of the product as opposed to the technology which it employs. In other words, user experiences will be the ultimate determinant as to which digital avenues the company should explore. Otherwise, what may very well be a novel service may fall upon deaf ears. In this sense, “the customer is always right” is still the best maxim. How functional is the product, when is it needed and which platforms will provide the best user experience? Understanding these metrics will enable the business to make the right decisions at the right time.

Moving into the digital arena is all but inevitable for most companies. While this shift is indeed profound, it does not have to be daunting. These simple tips will help any enterprise build the flexible framework that is necessary to meet and exceed the demands of their customer base. Employing these digital strategies will offer the foundation for any business to grow well into 2015 and beyond. Now is the time to plan to do that.