Unlocking the Power of Digital Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide
What is a digital strategy?
Every success story starts with a strategy. Similarly, every successful business relies heavily on a thorough, personalized strategy. Within that strategy lies a myriad of components, but as businesses become more and more reliant on technology, the digital component carries heavier weight. This is where digital strategy comes in.
A digital strategy lays out the plan to combine digital initiatives and technologies to optimize business processes. By implementing this strategy, organizations can better serve their clients and customers, scale their business and develop new competitive advantages in their go-to-market. From a monetary standpoint, a digital strategy can also be a path to increased revenue, business value and ROI.
The goal of a digital strategy is to unify digital possibilities across the enterprise with the business goals. It also encourages cross-functional participation from senior management from the different areas of the organization. This cross-functional consideration holds the entirety of leadership accountable for the digital strategy, not just the CIO. Expanding the responsibility of digital strategy helps reduce the risk of it being moved down on someone’s priority list while also factoring in perspectives from different areas of the business.
What can a digital strategy include?
No two businesses will have the same digital strategy. Just as every business has different needs and goals, there will be different paths to fill those needs and achieve those goals. Overall, though, a robust and effective digital strategy encompasses business/technology priorities, IT strategy and a strategic path forward to support the business’ continued transformation.
The components of a digital strategy will depend on the purpose behind the development of the strategy. Some businesses are working toward higher brand recognition while others are aiming for a more streamlined approach for internal operations. This wide range of objectives leads to a long list of potential digital strategy components, including e-commerce, search engine optimization (SEO), advertising, customer interaction, social media presence, etc. All these components can combine in different ways to create incredible, sustainable results that work toward an organization’s business goals.
Why is a digital strategy important for a business?
Implementing a digital strategy helps grow your brand and ensures that your business does not get stale. It keeps you ahead of the curve by identifying gaps, opportunities and emerging trends. In the digital world, knowledge is power, and execution is everything. A digital strategy is important for helping businesses collect informative data, maintain efficient asset management, increase brand recognition, develop a more effective use of resources and obtain an overall grasp of how to improve your business’ digital posture.
The advantages of having a mapped out digital strategy
Mapping out your digital strategy comes with a wide range of advantages, and it can help strengthen your organization in areas of business you may not even expect. Overall, though, many businesses will realize the following advantages at one point or another in their digital strategy journey.
An effective digital strategy puts your business ahead of others who are simply relying on what they already know to operate. Your business will stand out by constantly introducing new initiatives, offerings and benefits for your clients and customers. Building a reputation of being ahead of the industry creates lasting relationships and maintains trust between you and the consumer.
Evolves with Customers’ Needs
Just as digital initiatives emerge every day, so do new customer needs. The secret sauce is aligning your digital initiatives to meet these customer needs, and it creates an opportunity to exceed expectations. Whether this means offering new capabilities on your mobile app, virtual fitting rooms or strengthened security measures, your customers will always appreciate the opportunity to save time, money or headache. Utilize new technology and processes to help give them these benefits, even if it may seem like a minimal difference from your end.
Streamlined Internal Processes
While many components of a digital strategy are intended to benefit your client experience, it can also create great efficiency with your organization’s internal experience as well. Leveraging new technology, tools and processes can help improve your employee experience across all lines of business operations, whether it’s inputting expense reports, onboarding, recruiting efforts, sales training, goal setting, etc. By listening to your employees’ needs in the same way you do your clients’ needs, you can grow your company culture, increase retainment and ultimately develop a stronger business model. To learn more about gaining feedback through employee engagement surveys, check out this blog from our Employee Engagement Manager, Ashley Lukan.
Adds Variety to Business Offerings
Exploration breeds innovation, and digital strategy opens the door to explore new corners of your business and opportunities to improve them. By building out the digital strategy roadmap broken down below and sticking to it, your business can better serve clients by developing a slew of new offerings and iterating on existing ones to add new components and benefits. This increased diversity in offerings will boost your competitive advantage, as well.
How to create a digital strategy roadmap
While every roadmap will look different from business to business, the process for establishing that roadmap is fairly standardized. Certain businesses may have to break down the process more granularly to consider further factors, but these five steps outline the exercise of developing your digital strategy roadmap.
1. Designate a leader.
While digital strategy requires input and collaboration across multiple departments and members of the leadership team, it’s important to designate one person to lead the charge. This person will serve as an advocate and liaison of the digital strategy, helping gather data from the proper individuals and consider perspectives from every corner of the company. It’s important that this person has a deep understanding of where your business came from, where it is now and where it needs to go.
2. Determine your company’s relationship with technology.
Before you can properly develop a strategy to align technology with your business goals, it’s important to see how your business already leverages technology. From there, identify gaps and areas of improvement to build upon. This is also the step in which you should identify ways to boost your strategy’s security posture and consider potential threats. Security is a nonnegotiable component of any digital strategy, and can ultimately be make or break in your strategy’s success and longevity.
3. Evaluate the technology landscape & how your business fits in.
As important as it is to understand the role of technology within your company, it’s just as important to understand its role within the industry as a whole. Take a look at current and emerging trends in technology, and be sure to align your digital strategy with ways to keep up with them. From there, establish opportunity areas to leverage these technology trends in your own strategy and assess gaps in your workforce’s skillsets. A digital strategy is a perfect opportunity for upskilling and reskilling your workforce, and this commitment to their development will help foster a company culture of learning and growth.
4. Set achievable, but ambitious goals.
Your digital strategy isn’t the time to play it safe. Establish a strategy that will allow your business to push boundaries, and stick to those goals. By creating opportunities to meet specific metrics and checkpoints, the steps within your strategy become a lot less daunting and a lot more attainable. Take actionable steps to achieve the objectives set out in your strategy and continue to evolve them with your company and customer base.
5. Invest, implement and adapt your strategy over time.
Now that you’ve put the time into developing a digital strategy, it’s time to put it to work. Invest in the tools and resources necessary to implement the strategy, whether that’s a digital adoption platform, new talent to support initiatives or licensing for new software. Once your strategy has been effectively set in motion, don’t let it stop there. Continue to revisit the strategy regularly to identify new opportunities, gaps, potential partnerships and areas of improvement. Request feedback from your employees and customers and weave those recommendations into the strategy moving forward.
Can I outsource my digital strategy?
Absolutely. Outsourcing digital strategy is a great way to invest in your team’s success without having to expand your team. By outsourcing this critical component of your business plan, you alleviate the need to develop and retain those skillsets in house. This gives your existing team more time to implement and optimize a strategy rather than developing it.
Many MSPs are exploring the addition of a Digital Strategy Practice to their organizational structure. In fact, ivision is growing ours exponentially! We sat down with our CEO, David Degitz, and CIO-in-Residence, Mark Husnick to discuss how the ivision Digital Strategy Practice will learn the ins and outs of your business, design a roadmap to align with your business goals and support throughout the implementation phase. Watch Part 1 and Part 2 of their discussion to learn more about our approach.
How ivision can help you create and implement a successful digital strategy
The ivision digital strategy approach is broken into three sections: alignment, optimization and cyber risk. Each of these sections provides different offerings to help support your business’ continued transformation.
We offer business alignment and benchmarking, organizational alignment and application alignment. The offerings that support these initiatives include CIO Business Vision Assessments, IT Value Metrics, Organizational Change Management & Communication, Application Portfolio and more. Alignment across the industry, the business and the infrastructure is crucial for maintaining a sustainable and effective digital strategy.
For optimization, we focus on technology spend optimization and executive partnership through Budget & Charge Back Programs, Shadow IT Spend Identification, Virtual CIO, etc. This helps optimize areas of the strategy that aren’t working to their full potential and continue to improve areas that are already working.
Lastly, to mitigate risk, we offer cybersecurity offerings like Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Identity & Access Management (IAM) and Vulnerability Assessments. By working to eliminate risk and prioritizing cybersecurity in your digital strategy, your business can protect its data, infrastructure and clients while you innovate.
By combining these offerings, our Digital Strategy team helps transform businesses by identifying what technologies to embrace, what processes to automate and what new business models to create. Our Digital Strategy Executive Group is comprised of a balanced mix of proven leadership from the industry and consulting. With background in cybersecurity, management consulting, Microsoft capabilities and other IT services, the ivision Digital Strategy team is equipped to help future-proof your business. Contact us to start strategizing today!