Friday 3 March 2023

Digital strategy

A digital transformation is made up of four key aspects:

  • Vision: Why the organisation is undergoing a digital transformation
  • Strategy: How is the organization going to transform, high level values, principles and priorities
  • Missions: What is going to transform, which products and services need digital transformation
  • Resources: Who is going to execute the transformation.

A digital strategy is a governance document with principles, values, and priorities that are used to guide decision makers to ensure consistency in expected outcomes. It defines ways of working to facilitate a digital transformation to a defined vision. A strategy is a set of guiding principles that, when communicated and adopted within the organization, generates a desired pattern of decision making. A strategy defines how people throughout the organization should make decisions and allocate resources to accomplish key objectives.

A digital strategy it is not a roadmap, it is not a micro step by step instruction set to implantation, but rather a high level aspirational direction with a set of core values which are aligned to a unified digital direction. A digital strategy is a reference for product and service owners, providing them with a high level direction to support them in micro level decisions when digitally transforming their own product or service lines. 

The digital Strategy like the digital vision is a living and breathing entity, it does not exist in a frictionless vacuum, and as markets evolve and situations change the digital strategy in all likelihood will need to course correct, this is normal especially in large organisations where a digital transformation my be a multi year program rather than an simple project.

Now that the organisation, knows where they are, where they want to be, and why they want to get there, they are ready to define their digital strategy. There are four reasons to define a Digital Strategy:

Strategies ensure that the Executive team are all on the same page, they define the digital direction that the organization is bound for, I use the word direction, rather than destination for a reason. As technology evolves and changes, the digital strategy must course correct; true digital transformation never ends. The initial phase is meant to catch an organisation up to the current value added digital trends, once this is accomplished the organisation must stay diligent to not fall behind. 

Fill the gap
Strategies fill the gap between the Executive team, and the various Delivery teams, they can be thought of as a governance document which can be referred to for guidance when it is unclear as what to do and what is important.

Strategies excite and motivate the organisation to take action. Digital strategy provides the high level principles and values to inspire delivery teams and their leads, while leaving enough breathing space for them to interpret and implement the strategy at the product or service level to maximise customer and employee value.

Strategies accelerate a digital transformation, by having a defined starting point and a clear direction, it far more straight forward for the organisation to move as a whole when it is clear where they are going.

Good digital strategies have the following common characteristics:
  • Values: Define what is important and why, how it will provide value to customers as well as employees
  • Flow: A good strategy flows, they principles and values are cohesive and complement each other clearly aiming the organisation in one unified direction.
  • Simple: needs to be easy to understand and implement, if a strategy becomes too complex, the chanced of implementing it correctly diminish. Thus keep it as simple as possible. 
  • Bottom Up: Though the digital strategy is defined at the executive level, it needs to be implemented from the bottom up, this is why change management is so important when it comes to digital transformation.   
  • Culture: due to the fact that digital transformation is best implemented from a bottom up approach, the organisation must provide a safe space for business units to experiment and fail, to learn from their failures and try again. It's the business units who interact with the clients that are best positioned to know what the customers find valuable.