Why leaders struggle to understand digital strategy

And how it differs from other business strategies

Just as other business strategies, a digital strategy is document that draws the big picture. Often a about how a company should handle their various digital platforms; websites, apps, social media, digital marketing, etc.

The document does not need to go in depth, but it should include a long-term approach on dealing with the various platforms in a holistic way — that builds the brand.

Digital strategies should facilitate flexibility

The digital strategy should obviously match the business strategy, but there are a few fundamental differences that are worth noting.

The two key elements in most business strategies are:
1 Long-term planning
2 A detailed budget.

Both of these are unfortunately difficult to implement in a digital strategy. It would also be right out insane to do so. The development of the digital world are going just too fast for it to be appropriate.

In extreme cases, this can make the company less competitiv. Not having the the agility and pace the company need to keep up with digital trends could be crucial. And beeing able to set new trends and stanards in their market will probably slip completely.

For the same reason it would be silly to make a traditional and detailed budget based on projects. Rather, the budget should be based on a yearly and/or monthly investment. This means that the budget should not be earmarked for specific projects or solutions — it should rather be the person responsible for the companys digital channels that should control the budget. Preferably with a distinct “carte blanche” from the management team and board of directors.

The budget should be large enough to handle signifcant projects, while it must be flexible enough to include ad-hoc assignments. Only in this way the company will make themselves viable in the digital world.

Clear goals make the job easier

To succeed with a digital focus and not least with management and control of such a budget, measurement criteria are essential.

Good, simple, time-specific, tangible goals that everyone understands is essential. Certainly also “ROI” and revenue drivers. Maybe it’s time to start testing the website like the other sellers? A question that may be worth asking is — “If management had to choose between getting rid of the best seller or the website, what will he choose?” If the answer is the website, should the investment at least be in line with super seller’s salary.

But it is also possible to set good goals without including sales. Do the digital solve tasks that were previously done manually (for example, customer service, support, etc.)? Measure what users are doing on your site and find out if it actually works!

In addition to all this, the strategy should also include policies, priorities, people and partners the company need to reach their. Briefly summarized the important concepts in a digital strategy:
• Distribution of responsibilities
• Measurement criterias and control
• Priority list and implementation plans for the next 12 months
• Budget in the form of a monthly and/or annual budget.

Finally, for those who work with digital strategy ordecision maker. My experience is that actually leaders understand this if it is explained properly. If the company however did not adapt chances are that it soon gets its own Kodak moment or soon identify with the music industry woke up to a world that had run from them digitally.

Good luck with the digital strategy!
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