There has been and continues to be a debate as to whether a business should have a digital strategy or not. It is not that acknowledging digital is a bad thing, it is more that digital is and should be a part of any business strategy and therefore should not be something that is done in isolation. I tend to agree with that point and especially since some practitioners focus on digital often at the expense and at the exclusions of all else.
Having said that, I do see a real need for businesses to have a digital strategy. I find that there are three primary drivers, (I am sure there are more):
- Digital is new for many and giving it focus is a way to get it integrated into a business;
- A lot of digital activities are currently tactical at best and random at worst, thus making sure they are brought together and linked to the business strategy is a good thing;
- Digital is evolving quickly whereas a business strategy is typically more stable, therefore reviewing a digital strategy may be required more often.
Like I said there are more reasons but from my experience these three are dominant and when done correctly a digital strategy and, more importantly, the process of crafting the digital strategy invokes both thought, understanding and most importantly action.
It is just as important that the digital strategy does not ignore non-digital. So for example if there are obvious offline actions to be taken, then these are included and addressed.
While undertaking a digital strategy project there are several building blocks:
- The need to be in line with the business strategy and goals;
- Include a Situation Analysis in the Digital Strategy
- Social Review (the use and effectiveness of social media)
- Reputation (Online Ratings and Postings)
- Digital Scorecard (a review of the use of digital in Sales & Marketing)
- Goals for improvement
- Tools and training required
- The Action Plan
The focus is on understanding and implementation as that is when a business improves. This after all is the real goal and not the debate as to whether a digital strategy is a legitimate theory or not. How the work is done is key, just like it is wth any strategy development work. The process will dictate the speed and success of implementation. In that sense strategy has not changed, digital or otherwise.