Be mindful of trends
The internet is a constantly evolving, changing space. The implications of trends like consumerisation, the mobile app revolution and social and collaboration technologies have all had dramatic effects on how businesses operate in the last five years.
But he says the day-to-day operations can often put the blinders on being cognisant of trends, and many businesses “haven’t taken the time to work on the business because they’re working in the business”.
For Tony, changes in technology have facilitated getting the most input from the right people for a problem. Where the tyranny of distance or conflicting schedules prevented collaboration in the past, getting opinions from employees or partners in developing a digital strategy has never been easier, which can ensure the success and implementation of it once developed.
When asked how many people in the room felt data was as valuable as money during the session at Vantage, many people raised their hands. Tony’s advice was simple: “Control your data the same way you control your money.”
Use it to understand your customers, their behaviours, how they consume your product and what they want – these insights should all play a significant role in your digital strategy.
And it’s important to note that the word “data” (especially when it comes to corporate buzzwords like “big data”) have been appropriated to mean digital data. This isn’t necessarily true – understanding buyer behaviours and preferences can be seen at the cash register or in conversations you have with customers.
Align it with the business strategy
“[Thinking digitally] gives an organisation the opportunity to develop a digital strategy that is aligned with their business strategy. It is focused on business outcomes not technology outcomes,” says Tony.
It’s an important distinction. Any foray into the digital environment needs to make sense in a business context, not just a technological one. After all, individual technologies come and go but the digital environment is here to stay, and businesses exist to make money.
So any digital strategy should have a strong and consistent vision, and take into consideration the market value proposition of the business under three pillars – customer intimacy, operational excellence or product excellence – and the role technology plays in each.
For businesses to be successful, says Tony, businesses need to have all three, but a business model is developed on excelling in one.
Factor in process
Any digital strategy should not just focus on external delivery or meeting customer expectations.
A digital strategy should also consider process digitisation (such as going paperless), worker enablement (through things like productivity apps) and measurement of the performance of the business. A digital strategy should complement all facets of the business without disrupting them negatively.
After all, implementing changes and technology are only as valuable as the benefits they deliver to the business.
Finally, with so much of the world being measurable, it’s important to constantly review your digital strategy to ensure it is performing, making positive change and there aren’t new ways of doing things that could have even more benefits.
“The world’s changed,” says Tony.
“[Reviews should be] ongoing ... This is the way to do business now, it’ll never stop.”