How is digital strategy different than other forms of business strategy?
Digital strategy offers a comprehensive look at business operations. Traditional strategies typically focus on more compartmentalized approaches with larger investments made sequentially. Think of new product launches, entering new markets, buying competitors, mergers and acquisitions, reductions in headcount, hiring more sales people, media and advertising or streamlining systems. Traditional strategy takes a goal statement and hands it off to department heads to translate and implement it. Digital strategy cuts through silos and re-envisions how an entire organization operates regardless of legacy processes, people or systems. A digital strategy treats a 50-year-old company like a start-up. It will ask the question, “If we started this business today, how would we do it?”
Digital strategies depend on innovation, democratized thought, and collaboration. A company who adopts a digital strategy encourages teams to challenge the status quo. It provides a framework that balances measured progress with constant refinement. This type of plan is well defined with a clear vision of the future state. It has built-in flexibility that allows management teams to adapt to rapidly changing markets.
Traditional strategies have become too static. One-year plans are obsolete. Progress and value must now be delivered at smaller, more frequent intervals. While the larger goal may not change, the way you achieve it or the end result may look different. Digital strategy provides a framework for continuous measurement and adjustment. Annual results are old news. Quarterly results mean nothing. Digital worlds measure performance day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and adjustments are made in real-time.
Running a business this way requires a different mindset. It requires different skills, more powerful systems, and products that users interact with to capture critical insights that help us learn and refine. Shiny new user apps must interface seamlessly with legacy systems to provide a seamless data flow.