by Sophie Jasson-Holt and Amy Lee Evans
In an accelerated world, digital strategies must evolve to be more flexible, responsive and relevant. Business leaders cannot afford to either create or consume long-winded strategy decks or overly academic business blueprints.
On the Road to Becoming More Nimble
Businesses need to co-create strategies with internal teams and then to validate the strategy with users. A continuous feedback loop from users is a critical part of an evolving digital strategy. It’s akin to a chef and a sous-chef strategically concocting a menu, refining it by testing and tweaking until it is ready for prime time.
So what, you may ask, does this have to do with digital strategy?
Chefs and Digital Strategists — Connoisseurs of Happy Experiences
Chefs and digital strategists set the direction for menus or digital initiatives. Both rely on teams and continuous customer feedback so they can deliver delicious experiences. A digital strategy, like a menu, has a higher rate of success when it is tasted and tweaked. Effective digital strategies and winning recipes do not sit on a shelves gathering dust. They are constantly evolving.
Why Digital Strategies Must Evolve
So what exactly is the definition of a Digital Strategy? “Strategy is setting a direction, sequencing resources and making commitments.” But why is the creation of a digital strategy often riddled with potholes? Sometimes it can be as simple as not having a common language for the term “digital strategy”. Sharon Panelo, founder of Remote Strategist Club, describes her experiences with some clients:
“There was a disconnect. Everyone has a different definition of digital strategy.”
Orders Keep Coming and Coming
Change is a constant in today’s market. Time windows for delivering products or services are shorter and shorter. Often businesses create strategies using longer timelines that assume more static market conditions.
Strategies mirror fiscal calendars tracking yearly and quarterly milestones but fail to account for weekly or daily changes. Often too much time is spent planning and creating a beautiful strategy and not enough time building (tasting and adjusting) and deploying the strategy. A more agile strategy offers the potential to absorb the flood of changes pouring in from a variety of data sources.
The Digital Strategy Orbit, People at the Center
Digital strategies need to evolve to respond to the gravitational pull of social orbits. An orbit starts and grows when people connect. People gravitate towards others who share similar interests or use similar products/services. Humans love the herd. The influence of others can shift people's online behaviors and norms. This puts people at the center. Digital strategies must anticipate and swiftly respond to these shifts. Using qualitative research to uncover people’s motivations can be very helpful.
People are now the new channel. It’s no longer possible to control everything about your product. We need to assume that everything can and will be seen by anyone (and at anytime).”
Disruption Fuels the Pressure Cooker
Customers are being fiercely pulled in many directions and probably away from your product’s orbit. The disruption economy has arrived. AirBnB and Uber are the most well known examples of behemoth disrupters to the global economy. The taxi industry in San Francisco is a shadow of what it once was less than 5 years ago. This begs the question—could a more responsive strategy have prevented its demise? We believe so.
“The vulnerability to disruption of your business model increases because you no longer have that unique and wholly owned relationship with a consumer. Instead, you actually have a shared but very important strategic control point with other players within the ecosystem.”
More compelling reasons to create a responsive digital strategy:
How to Harness the Flow of a Digital Strategy
So how can business leaders and digital strategists respond to the tide of constant change? Start small, co-create to engage different perspectives, embrace change and build an environment that rewards collaboration and experimentation.
We believe that digital strategists, like chefs, need to taste as they go. A strategy that evolves through a series of short bursts can absorb many of the digital shocks and disruptive forces in a global, digitized economy. An evolving strategy is confident, fearless in the face of user, consumer and stakeholder feedback. If people love Mexican Bouillabaisse they get Mexican Bouillabaisse. If they don’t love it then it’s dropped from the menu and replaced with Veracruz fish soup.
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About the Authors
I’m a digital and content marketing consultant, business strategist, process nerd and builder of teams. I love tackling big problems to help drive your sales, product, program and project initiatives. I am also a chef and a recent graduate of culinary school and Salesforce training. I see where cooking, business, marketing and process intersect and love to think and write about it.
I’m a creative team leader and digital consultant. I’m passionate about user experiences and empowering teams to succeed. I’m also a foodie at heart. When I’m baking, I love to experiment with recipes to see how small changes can make a big difference. I also carry this thinking into my work life.
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