Your Digital Strategy Sucks

  • Posted in: Digital
  • On: 24 March 2021

I’ve been working in digital for well over 20 years. I still get quite shocked when I meet the heads of digital/chief digital officers and anyone else tasked with defining what digital is and what they do with this great power. I am often responsible for delivering a large part of their grand plan. Most of the time it sucks.

There are few leaders who have years of experience. Most were promoted into this role, doing something else. I try not to understand how these decisions are made. I have not been in a position to inform the decision and powerless to influence it further. It can be tough working for someone whose vision you don’t overly subscribe to.

I’ve seen this in both agencies and corporate environments. This means doing it wrong for clients, staff, and customers. I’m not going to throw shade at all the ridiculous things they focus on, but I will offer my point of view on what the person in charge of digital should be doing.

Your primary focus should be to digitise the business. What this means is making sure that all products, services, operations, infrastructure, and resources be digitally enabled. At the most basic level, your media channels need to be the best they can be, but it’s more than updating your website and Facebook page. You need to focus on making sure analog solutions are replaced by a better digital solution. That analog mindsets and skills are upgraded to digital ones.

It is not enough to come up with some cool app or grander, a revolutionary platform. Get the foundations right. Then build on top of that. Build systems that work well together. Infrastructure that can support the demand. Evaluate real cost-saving solutions and use cases where investment in digital makes absolute sense to the long and short-term strategic business goals.

Focus on reach by creating accessible solutions that perform well and help people complete tasks better and faster. Upskill staff, not only operationally to leverage technology, but to speak the same language to each other and your customers. Data that you can actually access and is available for your teams to leverage to make calculated decisions. Digital offers incredible solutions for customer support. But do your staff even know how to use the latest features on your app?

Do audits on everything, integrate it as much as possible, and don’t over-invest in technologies that may be outdated in the next year, never mind the next 5 years. You just have to think in systems that support one another. The need for physical hardware setups is all but gone. Social platforms are plagued with privacy issues and algorithm changes. Put the proper procedures in place before approving lofty budgets the trends and popular solutions. Don’t allow marketing to waste money on robots that make the CEO look good for a brief moment on the news.

There are so many obvious things that should be focussed on, and only when they’re solid should you be focussing on the shiny and new. Obviously, we want to keep up with the competition. Of course, researching new technologies like AR & VR is important, but they are far from changing most industries’ landscape. So for now focus on getting the basics right. That’s a digital strategy that doesn’t suck.