Digital strategy: how to maintain yours alive.

December 19, 2018

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Digital strategies are a lot like puppies.

I know I know… But stay with me here.

Sure, you might not be able to pet your digital strategy and it won’t shower you with affection when you come home from work, but a digital strategy is a long-term commitment that requires regular attention. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get back from it.

Your digital strategy will continue to grow and change over time, and how you nurture it will directly impact its health. If you neglect it and hope it will care for itself, you are going to end up with a dead digital strategy. Yikes!

In this article we’ll explore three of the most common issues with maintaining an effective digital strategy and how to tackle them.

1. Failing to execute against the digital strategy

Let’s say you’ve run the whole nine-yards and now you have a digital strategy document. It’s been signed off by the board and everyone across the business is sold on it, but it’s sitting on your computer collecting metaphorical dust.

Part of an effective digital strategy should include a roadmap for delivery, which should have short-, mid-, and long-term goals. The duration of these will vary business to business, but a good starting point is to have a plan for what you want to achieve in the next six months, one year, and five years.

Your roadmap should be an actionable set of goals that clearly articulates the:

  • Tasks involved and their outputs
  • People required to action it
  • Technical stack required to underpin it
  • Channels required to deliver it
  • Process changes required to support it
  • Dependencies that might impact it

Some of the goals might change as you start to execute –particularly the longer-term ones– and that’s okay because your roadmap is a living document.

Starting off on the right foot by immediately delivering against the strategy helps to keep momentum and a digital mandate across your organization.

2. Failing to re-engage stakeholders

 

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Developing a digital strategy is about fully understanding the needs of both your customers and your business, and it is important to remember that these needs change, often faster than people think. Users’ expectations, both internally and externally, are shaped by many factors outside of your control. These can include changes to technology, changes in environmental and societal factors, and the activities of your competitors.

Undertaking regular engagements with your end users can help unearth new needs early on, allowing you to address them quickly to remain at the forefront of your marketplace. Waiting a long time to re-engage users can reveal sizable issues that may be too late to address.

It’s also vital to continue to re-engage with internal stakeholders. As your business moves forward the requirements of different teams are likely to change, and your strategy will need to as well. Your digital strategy should support your business processes, and understanding how your business is changing will help you continue to execute effectively to achieve that.

3. Failing to review the strategy

 

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There are many ways to review your strategy, but two very effective ways are by 1) measuring the success of your current strategy against your own KPIs and 2) benchmarking your competitors.

Take the time to analyze how you’re performing against these KPIs; this is key to understanding what areas of your digital strategy work and what areas need to be changed. Start doing this monthly and share the results more widely with the organization to help them understand the impact of the strategy.

Performing a competitor analysis and benchmarking where you sit will also help reveal the gaps in your own digital strategy. Are your competitors offering a significantly better user experience? Are their marketing efforts better aligned with their brand? Are they expanding into new product areas?

Having an effective digital strategy is a key part of a successful business model, and ensuring it continues to work for your business doesn’t have to be hard work. Checking in with your competitors at least once annually will also assist with keeping your strategy up to date.

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