The word ‘digital’ can easily get lost in the mix of corporate buzz words when not considered in the context of strategy.
When appropriately aligned to your business goals, it has the power to transform your business, create a competitive advantage with your customers and differentiate you as an employer.
According to Churchill principal consultant, Nathan Carbone, COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated the collective thinking around digital strategy, making it more relevant than ever to ensure long-term business sustainability.
It has demonstrated it’s not just a means to a competitive advantage, but a matter of survival.
Mr Carbone said industries had been forced to advance ahead of schedule and people were now realising the value of a proactive digital business strategy.
“We are not talking solely about a new website or digital marketing strategy but a fundamental shift in the way an organisation leverages digital capabilities to enable new insights and business models to be developed,” he said.
Mr Carbone said historically organisations had lacked an understanding of digital business strategy and may have been driven by chasing “shiny objects” or a “me too” mentality.
As a result, they undertook digital initiatives that did not align with their business goals, leading to a low ROI due to a lack of connection to any real drivers of value, he said.
Ensuring strategies align
So, how can a company ensure its digital business strategy aligns with its business model?
This brings focus on the customer.
“Organisations have to be better at understanding their internal and external customers and the landscape they operate in.” Mr Carbone said.
“Getting to the heart of that really requires putting into practice some core skills and capabilities using human centred design to understand how people think and act.
“It’s not just about a customer saying they want to interact via an app, so we go and build an app; we need to delve deeper than that,” Mr Carbone said.
“By understanding the consumer is time-poor, we can realise we need to have minimal touchpoints in the journey so the customer can obtain what they need in a minimal amount of time.
“Take Netflix as an example of understanding customer needs.
“Netflix started issuing DVDs via post while Blockbuster dominated the video and DVD bricks and mortar market.
“Although Netflix started on that path, they realised people were time-poor, wanted to watch what they wanted when they wanted and wanted to do it at-home. Therefore, they pivoted their business towards on demand streaming when streaming was an infantile industry.
“Now, not only has Netflix led the way but they’ve opened up a whole new digital business model, while Blockbuster has filed for bankruptcy.”
How Churchill is combatting disruption with digital
Mr Carbone said some businesses understood the ground was shifting under them and they didn’t know what they should do or where they should go.
“Some want to have a better comprehension of their organisation and how they can achieve a more targeted, efficient approach to allocating and spending capital,” he said.
“Some understand if they want to have real-time data acquisition, their current systems don’t support that so they’re going to need to refresh their systems and technology stack to achieve it.
“And some organisations have begun their digital transformation but have stalled as the initiatives aren’t linked to creating value.”
Mr Carbone said no matter what the concern or need, Churchill assisted its clients with seeing their strategies through to deployment.
Setting a digital business strategy isn’t just for digital marketers or web developers. Churchill has developed a structured modulated approach to developing and implementing a digital business strategy.
These modules cover a number of themes: an executive visioning session to understand industry trends and the current landscape; a digital diagnostic to identify opportunities including customer insights, an appropriate digital business model, and the necessary technology; and most importantly, the steps and milestones required to achieve established goals.
Defining the objectives, actions and outcomes for digital business strategy applies as much to a manufacturing company as it would to a mining company, tech company, professional services firm or retailer.
“This is industry agnostic,” Mr Carbone said.
“When you consider the benefits that flow from a digital strategy – greater insight into your customers, improvement of internal capacity and processes, aiding collaboration, and upskilling the capabilities of an organisation – they’re applicable to every industry.”
Disruption will continue to occur across both the business landscape and within an organisation as technology advances and customers are exposed to greater choice.
“The ability to balance blue sky thinking and the latest technology and to actually execute and implement that, is crucial,” he said.
“Without the ability to execute and implement it’s just words on a page and that’s not what we’re about.”
For advice on setting your company’s digital business strategy, contact Churchill. Visit www.churchill.com.au