As a leading consulting company on Digital Strategy in Australia, the team at Indietech see this question typically appear as businesses complete their initial investments in digital technology. Much of that investment usually tend to concentrate on implementing new technologies to existing products, processes and practices. In that sense, the digital strategy was similar to the IT strategy, which is a process of choosing which technologies you will invest in and where those investments would go. This approach to strategy results in a plan or in the digital world a roadmap. Digital strategy is not IT strategy and requires a different approach.
Adding analytics, going mobile, or extending the online experience makes you wonder what’s next. These investments frequently changed the structure of interaction, with limited modification to the function. Reconstructing the business with digital, especially in the marketing sector, is understandable in the face of improving consumer expectations, information and options. Once organisations had completed their first digital journey, the question of digital strategy re-joins the executive agenda.
The next round of digital strategy setting
What should be different in digital strategy? That is the first question you should ask when revisiting this topic. Repeating the past is no guarantee of success, so understanding the directions for digital strategy is essential. At the highest level, there are two options available.
The first selection calls for extending digitisation by repeating the current digital playbook to cover new functions and processes. That is the path IT took as it automated and integrated tasks across the organisation. Starting with ERP, the strategy repeated itself for customer relationship management, sales force, supply chain, product development and other functions. Digitizing HR, Financial Management and other functions provide examples of strategies based on applying new technology to existing activity.
Transforming activity is the second alternative for digital strategy. This was an initial commitment of first-generation digital strategy but often fell back into prior IT transformation habits in the face of governance, organisational, and other legacy roadblocks. Taking this path recognises the work that has been done but asks the question ‘If digital strategy should be more of the same or can it be different?’ It is an important distinction and a problem that requires a thoughtful response.
Refining the definition of digital and strategy
Experience changes understanding. Companies have been on a power curve gaining expertise concerning digital, with their knowledge evolving at an exponential rate, revising the common understanding of digital.
Digital is more than a collection of technologies you buy as it is the expertise those technologies create and results in a relatively broad definition of digital that over time has interpreted into the following vital elements:
Digital is the use of technology and information to raise human performance.
Human performance is the nature of digital transmutation. Human performance produces the value that leads to revenue. Alternative goals for digital develop efficiencies that mainly drive down the cost of producing short-term benefits but drain the economy and growth.
Digital becomes another technology when digital investments do not request to change what individuals do in ways that enhance their ability to accomplish their goals. If that is the case in your situation then the digital strategy option is simple; just spread the technology beyond its beachhead in marketing.
Digital technologies offer additional rounds of industrialisation. Realizing what more looks like involves diminishing the idea of the strategy to its essence. Strategy as a term has become too complicated, loaded and limiting. A strategy needs to be analysed to its essential elements. Here is a suggestion:
A strategy is setting a direction, making commitments and sequencing resources.
While there is endless debate about what composes a strategy, resources, direction, sequence and commitment are all factors required to determine transformation. Direction illustrates the “why” regarding ambition and excluding alternatives. Sequence answers, “what first.” and “when.” Resources and commitment complete the discussion by answering “who” and “what.”
A business strategy for success in a digital world
All technology with transmutation potential begins in isolation, and digital is no exemption. For example (Cloud, mobile, customer, process, supply chain). All had its strategy before it combined with business strategy. As a result of these strategy fluctuations, the terms ‘strategy’ and ‘digital’ have become misapplied and overused terms.
Digital is the same. A digital strategy must become the core of business strategy. Restoring the baseline for strategy and digital clears away the clutter, setting organisations on a path for action. In that renewal a digitally informed business strategy becomes an answer to a simple question:
How can a business win while using technology and information to raise human performance?
That is the digital strategy in Australia, especially after you’ve stopped thinking of digital in the same way as IT, or as investments restricted to marketing.