When making the move to a digital enterprise, many businesses find themselves wondering whether they need to focus more on digital technology or the development of a digital strategy. A few companies even believe that technology alone is sufficient; if they can dazzle their customers with all of the latest technological advances, the strategy will take care of itself. Other companies find themselves so involved with developing a strategy that by the time that they are ready to implement a plan, the chosen technologies have been usurped by innovative methods.
The simple truth is that you need a digital strategy as well as the best digital technologies for your specific needs. Your digital transformation needs to be based on a sound strategy that allows you integrate the different technologies that you need to provide your customers with the seamless experience they demand.
Although the specific digital technologies you need may be quite different from what another company may need, if you create your digital strategy first, selecting the appropriate technology for each task is simplified. Therefore, while you need both, you should first focus on your strategy.
A Digital Strategy Requires Change
Building a digital enterprise requires a company to be willing to change. You will be transforming many of your business processes, altering your customers' perceptions and changing how your employees perform their duties. Going digital does not mean that you can simply add an assortment of different technologies; you must ensure that all of these different technologies contribute to the overall health of your company.
- The objectives and scope of a digital strategy determine its power. Mature digital enterprises realize that they are transforming their business, and their digital strategies reflect this understanding. They are not looking to create a patchwork of individual technologies that solve only one issue. Instead, they are looking for combinations that work together to provide multiple solutions.
- Digital maturity comes from having a digital strategy. In a recent survey, 15 percent of companies in the early stages of a digital transformation reported that they have a coherent strategy. Among companies that have attained most of their digital goals, 80 percent stated that they have a clearly defined strategy.
- As digital enterprises mature, they learn the importance of ensuring that their employees have the appropriate skills to support the transformation. At every step of the transformation, these companies include in their digital strategies any necessary employee training.
An effective strategy allows you to combine the four pillars of a digital enterprise — social media, mobile, analytics and cloud computing — in equal measures. Emphasizing one pillar excessively or ignoring it completely can lead to an unbalanced digital enterprise. If you develop your digital strategy first, you can plan the proper mix of technologies that will prove the most beneficial for achieving your goals.
Why Strategy Outranks Technology
Having the most innovative digital technology is not your goal. Your goal is to leverage technology to make your marketing efforts more successful, enhance sales, increase profits and delight your customers. Unless your company owns a proprietary technology, your competitors have the same access to every technology that you have. What sets you apart from the competition is the use to which you put the technology, and this requires an effective strategy.
In conclusion, you need the right digital technology, but you cannot determine which technologies are best without a coherent digital strategy. You cannot afford to ignore the many benefits that you can gain from using technology effectively. However, to gain the best results from technology, you must first define your strategy.