Digital Strategy

3 Keypoints for Successful Digital Strategies

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The need of businesses digitalization and the speed that Digital transformation is taking globally as a result of pandemics is a fact. The business leader's concern should not be about the relevance of implementing digital tools to run a smarter business, but on how to do it fast enough. In addition, SME’s leaders have to worry about this considering a low budget and fewer employees.
Claus Helbing, Managing Director at BCG Platinion, published his article "Digital Transformation Is Diverse, but The Success Factors Are Remarkably Uniform", where he highlighted some revealing stats from a recent Global Digital Transformation study by BCG. He explains that 80% of companies recognize the importance of shifting to digital solutions and are currently going through a DT or planning to do so. During the study, BCG found that just 30% of businesses report their digital transformations are successful while “Transformations based on integrated strategies are >80% more successful than those which are not.”(1). These stats state clearly that a Digital Transformation absolutely needs a Digital Strategy (A DS is a plan of action designed to achieve business goals via the implementation of digital initiatives).

There are 3 requirements for Digital Strategy success.​

There are many approaches and a variety of methodologies to build integrated digital strategies. Despite their differences, digital strategists agree that there are 3 fundamental requirements that a Digital Strategy must meet to be successful: firstly, it have to deliver a map showing the functions needed to digitalize the business, and hand over an optimized User Experience (UX); secondly, it should define the requirements to build an integrated ecosystem of online services to manage business operations in a centralized and automated way; and finally, it must define the right Software and plan the implementation stages in order to work on budget, train the software users, and get feedback from the end user to set the user experience on pointe and capitalize for the next stages.
When creating a DS, the first action is to define the objectives to draw a clear map showing the functions needed to digitalize the business, and hand over an optimized User Experience (UX). The researcher M. Turuk, in his article Digital Strategy describes this process: “In the next phase brainstorming and other creativity techniques take place to find the ideas and potential solutions to the problem”(13). Once the ideal solutions are defined, a visual representation should be drawn. The visual design that the DS delivers is the best solution to clearly see and prioritize functions, it also facilitates a clear map of the flows and integrations, and improves developer’s communication.
To exemplify this process, let’s review a typical e-commerce business. This e-commerce has 2 optimization objectives: the first is related with management, and pretends to automatically feed the customers database when they make a purchase; the second is related with the UX, and is to make the customer service feel personalized, close and it has to be automated. To cover the first objective, the necessary solution is an integrator that exports automatically the data from the e-commerce checkout form and directs it to the database; the second objective is to give personalized and automated attention, so then a Chat Boot will probably be chosen.
Business Area to Transform Optimization Goal Solution
Customer Management
Automatically feed the customers database
Integration between ecommerce and data base.
User Experience
Personalized and close experience. Automated.
ChatBot
Once the stakeholders and digital strategist have found and defined the main map with the necessary functions, they have to define the requirements to build an integrated ecosystem of online services to manage business operations in a centralized and automated way. This is represented in a new diagram that visually represents the interactions and integration requirements: “Technology is also part of the visual category, which includes maps, graphs, diagrams, brochures, flowcharts, highlighters, different colors... “ (Capraz, 281). The Integrations design in the system architecture diagrams should be clear enough to enable the representation of the automated data synchronization between 2 or more online services or technologies, and should direct it towards a collaborative platform to centralize it’s management.
Following the ecommerce example, let's imagine that one of the requirements of the ecommerce owner is to have all customer data centralized in one system from which communication interactions, sales stages and orders information can be managed. The DS will have to consider integrated systems in such a way that the objective is met and the ecommerce owner can manage all their operations from a single place in real time, without forgetting that there must also be a ChatBot.
Business Area to Transform Optimization Goal Solution
Customer Management
Automatically feed the customers database
Integration between ecommerce and data base.
User Experience
Personalized and close experience. Automated.
ChatBot
Customer Journey Management
Centralized data, multi-user platform, communication interaction, sales followup.
CRM with integrated Chat Boot
The integration diagram design based on specific requirements will have more opportunities to avoid synchronization failure, data loss, and other expensive mistakes. When the integrated ecosystem of services is designed to accomplish the requirements, then the result will be successful.
After defining the functions and the necessary integrations, the DS allows users to find the right Software and plan the implementation stages in order to work on budget, train the software users, and get feedback from the end user to set the user experience on pointe and capitalize for the next stages. Depending on the complexity of a DS, the services required may be a PaaS, IaaS or a SaaS. When a DS is backed with a large budget and a dedicated IT team, a PaaS (Platform as a Service) or an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) may be the best solutions since PaaS provides access to a cloud environment in which to develop, manage, and host private applications. However, when the budget is narrow and the computing skills are at basic levels, as it happens in the typical SME, the services called Software as a Service (SaaS) are the best option because they provide access to affordable cloud-based applications ready to be used as soon as contracted.
In addition to the selection of software and services based on the requirements and goals of the DS, it must consider a project management plan in which the onboarding process (digitizing, training, testing) to all services is segmented into stages that must be followed according to the plan until the DT is complete. In the article Clarifying Digital Strategy-Detailed Literature Review of Existing Approaches (2018), it is highlighted that a “Prerequisite for successful strategy implementation is to plan appropriate organizational processes/structures, goal-oriented control of digital initiatives, suitable personnel, adequate corporate culture, suitable technologies.”(12). Therefore, a project management plan must be considered and followed up for the DS to be successful.
In conclusion, the design and monitoring of a Digital Strategy allows to define a clear route towards digitalization, and to achieve the projected objectives saving valuable resources for the company. Business leaders can project successful Digital Transformations through Digital Strategies that accomplish 3 fundamental requirements: firstly, a map showing the functions needed to digitalize the business, and hand over an optimized User Experience (UX); secondly, DS should define the requirements to build an integrated ecosystem of online services to manage business operations in a centralized and automated way; and finally, it must define the right Software and plan the implementation stages in order to work on budget, train the software users, and get feedback from the end user to set the user experience on pointe and capitalize for the next stages.

References

Capraz, Burak. (2020). Digitalization Strategies in the New World Order: A Conceptual Study to Understand Digitalization Strategies. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9416-1.ch001

Claus Helbing.  Digital Transformation Is Diverse, But The Success Factors Are Remarkably Uniform. Linkedin.

Schallmo, Daniel & Williams, Christopher & Lohse, Jochen. (2018). “Clarifying Digital Strategy-Detailed Literature Review of Existing Approaches”. The XXIX ISPIM Innovation Conference – Innovation, The Name of the Game, Sweden, Stockholm on 17-20 June 2018. p. 12. Researchgate

Turuk, Mladen. (2020). Digital strategy. International journal of contemporary business and entrepreneurship. DOI: 1. 62-76. 10.47954/ijcbe.1.1.5.

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