Digital strategy is an “all-in” affair. You have to get the whole team on board because a digital strategy is disruptive.
According to research from McKinsey, there are several battles organizations need to overcome before they reach a digital transformation state. Reaching such a point is against-the-odds because of multiple reasons, including internal opposition, a lack of understanding, and inconsistent leadership.
The McKinsey report recommends a four-pronged battle plan for digital strategy:
- Combat old ways of thinking by using experiential techniques
- Fight against fear coming from top executives
- Eliminate the perils of guesswork by using pilot programs and analyzing the right use case
- Battle against the urge to tackle too many tasks at once and risk spreading the team so thin they cannot possibly be effective – when needed use IT staff augmentation to scale growth.
Stomp out Ignorance
Ask eight executives for a definition of digital strategy, and you’ll receive eight (or maybe more) different explanations. The executive team must be on the same page as to what digital means for the business and why such tech must spread throughout every facet of the company. True digital strategy initiatives are holistic and consider the big picture. They aren’t fragmented one-off exercises where the executives push for the latest tech toys and platforms without considering how they really fit into the business.
So how do you squash the ignorance? Start with education to help executives understand the latest digital trends and how they can transform the business. Answer some key questions with these efforts. For example, what processes need tech improvements? Will the latest tech such as blockchain and IoT be involved? How will the company change if 80 percent of customers start buying through mobile? These questions should spur some in-depth conversations that provide a good starting point for digital strategies.
Think differently about the business, especially if you’re hanging on to old processes. Is your competition already moving ahead with tech? Then you need to consider “starting from scratch” and imagining your business was founded today. What tech is required for the business to function?
Digital strategies require bold moves. This might involve shuttering entire processes or business lines, and moving resources around for new opportunities. Digital strategy innovation can shift resources and attention within the organization drastically, which can put some executives on the proverbial “hot seat” if they’re function is no longer needed.
Remind everyone involved that there’s no hiding from digital change. You can’t pause change just because a few execs are concerned about their role going forward. Adjust their attitudes by empowering these executives as the leaders of the digital shift by giving them the right resources and tools. Either they adapt or they accept the company itself will be passed by. Encourage executives to talk to others on the same anxiety-ridden journey by giving them access to speaking engagements and conferences about digital strategy’s challenges. Remind them of the career-enhancing benefits that will come if they develop a deep understanding of the latest tech and how it applies to the modern business.
Squash the Guesswork
Moving forward with digital strategy is a leap of faith. It’s a mixture of the unknown with the need for speed, a paradoxical combination. This level of uncertainty doesn’t mean you can’t tie data and educated guesses to digital strategy outcomes.
One proven method is to develop values for your digital investments? Where’s the payoff? Use this outcome-focused approach to push the organization towards the best ROI digital projects. Thinking about digital projects in this manner encourages involvement from the entire team. They’ll consider what pain points can be fixed with this investment, and how it might impact the overall customer experience. Avoid the temptation to make assumptions that are made without any context or analytics.
Removing guesswork also involves using real-time data that can narrow down choices and take away some uncertainties. Using such data allows course corrections, so you can get the team on another path that’s more likely to become successful.
There’s still an element of guesswork with a broad digital transformation, but you can make it “informed guesswork” by performing a careful review of what’s involved and the potential results. This is best done in a “skunk works” model, where a group of staff from multiple departments think about the ways tech can break the company’s old models.
Don’t Spread Digital Strategy Efforts too Thin
Diffusion is a considerable risk to digital strategy efforts. Technology change happens quickly and it’s easy to become overwhelmed and attempt to tackle every initiative at once. You do need to embark on several efforts and involve multiple teams, but have to do it strategically. It’s okay to build a sizable portfolio of desired projects, but understand each one’s likely at a different stage and requires different resources at varying times.
Spreading the team out too thin also removes your capacity to do the “big things.” Moving ahead of the competition requires boldness, and sometimes you have to make really impactful moves. Be willing to adjust your risk profiles and understand you’ll need to invest some money to make these big moves. If you balk on such moves, then you’re leaving openings for your competitors. They won’t blink.
The top players in your industry are moving forward with digital strategy initiatives. They have the executive team on board and have extinguished fears about change. They’re actively educating all levels of the company on the benefits of digital transformation and providing insights about the latest tech. In short, they’re moving forward boldly and decisively.
We understand the trepidation with digital strategy and digital transformation. It’s a big deal and it makes some people nervous, especially higher-ups that are concerned about their roles changing. But it’s a very high ROI play. And we can help you extinguish your fears and guide you on the right development projects so you can make the “big move.”