Accordant - Business Balanced IT

Thinking Digital

Today, attention is the rarest of all commodities.  We are living in the biggest ever culture shift – the age of information overload – and in this age the fight for attention is more intense than ever before.  Win attention, and you will be years ahead of any competition.

If you don’t have a digital presence today, you don’t exist.  Or at least you won’t exist for much longer.  This statement might be met with some scepticism; however, with the rapid movement of the market, this is nothing but harsh reality.  With the internet and social media as the go-to research tools for consumers, a robust digital presence is more important than ever for businesses looking to expand, or even simply stay afloat.

But what is this vague concept of ‘digital’ that seems to be just about everywhere, and how do business leaders ensure they are doing what is necessary?  It’s not merely a case of doing the same old things in different ways.  To be truly transformative, innovative and get ahead of competition, digital must become a deeply-rooted core value of an organisation’s strategy.

Becoming a truly digital business is built on an over-arching digital strategy, supported by three primary pillars:

  • Mind-set
  • Culture
  • Operations

We will come back to these three pillars shortly.  The over-arching strategy is the first thing to be tackled on your roadmap to digital success.  It’s the basis of everything you do.  For the same reason you would not build any business without a business strategy, you cannot hope to become digital without driving a digital strategy throughout the organisation.  This will guide you from where you are, to where you want to be.  The questions you must ask are:

  • Why are we in business?
  • What is our message?
  • Why would we want someone to engage with our message?

One of the most important tactics of being a digital business is the content you produce.

  • How are we going to communicate our message?

Remember, in a digital world, engagement is of paramount importance.  Gone are the days of marketing being seen as ‘push-selling’ where you tell customers to buy your product.  Today, it is all about ‘pull-marketing’ where your customers are so engaged with your message that they are drawn in and want your product or service without you even having to say anything.  It is all built on trust.

How do you build this trust?  This is where your content production comes into place.  If you are regularly producing informative content that provides real value to the world and engages customers, they will place their trust in you.  Fact.

In today’s digital era, your content has the potential to go viral and reach millions of ears within hours.  Crazy, right?  Now, how do you give your content the greatest chance of reaching all these ears and providing value to as many people as possible?  By establishing your brand.  Establishing your brand has always been vital in business, but what many fail to see is how this has changed with digital.  There are several ways to leverage digital to establish your brand.  I have listed just a few of these below:

  • Your website – the home base for your digital presence.
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – establishing your brand through Google’s ranking algorithms will ensure your message more easily accessible.
  • Social Media – it is difficult to keep up with social media; new platforms are arriving at such a rapid pace.  However, not having a presence across social media platforms is the modern equivalent of not having your phone number listed in the yellow pages.
  • Consistency – online life moves quick; even a small period of inactivity and before you know it customers have switched off from your message and you may have lost them forever.  Be consistent to ensure unwavering loyalty.

Now let’s go back to the three primary pillars of digital success I mentioned earlier (mind-set, culture and operations).  How do we truly embrace the digital mind-set?

First and foremost, it’s a case of ignoring the fear we are so susceptible to.  Going digital regularly feels like a gamble to many business leaders and, even if they are not resistant to it, we find them being paralysed by the prospect of change and risk.  A research study conducted by Accenture indicates that over half (54%) of all global business leaders would prefer to be “fast followers” or take a “wait and see” approach to adapting to digital.  Failure to act results in being left behind.  If you are surfing and a huge wave is coming at you, you can’t “wait and see” and then start surfing, you have to ride that wave as soon as possible in order to reap the reward and avoid being left struggling to resurface for air while you’re gulping down gallons of water.

  • Adopt a new mind-set searching for innovative opportunities – assign dedicated creative thinking time in order to break the mould and brain storm how to best take advantage of the digital era.
  • Get comfortable with trial and error – some initiatives work, some don’t.  But you can learn from the experience and ensure a better chance of success next time around.

As important as it is to ensure business leaders have the right digital mind-set, it is of equal importance to ensure your staff culture shares the same desire to transform.

  • Digital culture is most effective top-down – true transformation starts from the exec team and translates itself down throughout the rest of the organisation.
  • New skills – take the time to raise awareness and train staff members to acquire the relevant digital skills. Don’t be afraid to hire new talent to drive this sought-after culture either.

The third piece of the puzzle is the day-to-day operations. Everything you do must bear in mind your ultimate goal of thinking digital.

  • Leverage digital skills – this could be done by partnering with digital start-ups or by leveraging existing staff strengths.

Oh, and one final thought: celebrate your successes.  Making progress on your digital roadmap is not a small feat.  Ensure small victories are celebrated, and reinforce initiatives throughout the organisation to maintain the passion and excitement.

Digital strategy is a journey and must be used for innovation, not as a destination.  There’s no quick fix. Transformation takes time and steady progress.  For the greatest chance of success on the digital roadmap, ensure you have a clearly communicated digital strategy, supported by the three primary pillars: mind-set, culture and operations.  If you have covered these areas, be prepared to uncover the huge potential that digital has in store for your business.