Success in today’s digitally driven economy means developing a unique offering that’s firmly rooted in digital strategy – yet can’t be copied by your competitors.
For many small-to-medium businesses, the very idea of a digital strategy sounds daunting, challenging and out of their league. Indeed, many that I talk to see leading technology companies embracing biometrics, artificial intelligence (AI), drones, and other exciting digital technologies – but what’s that got to do with them, they say?
“Many SME’s say they aren’t big enough to benefit from digital strategy – but size doesn’t matter”
Yet every business, whatever its size, should see digital as an opportunity to drive growth. According to research*, embedding business software, apps and services can save UK businesses 6 million hours and £2 billion per week. So a company without a digital strategy in the current climate is a company without a business strategy at all.
How to start developing your strategy
The first step is to decide what kind of strategy to follow: a customer engagement strategy or a digitised solutions strategy.
Customer engagement strategy
This offers highly personalised experiences to customers to develop loyalty and trust. Companies that do this offer:
• seamless, omnichannel user experiences,
• a quick reactive approach to customer demands, and
• a personal relationship built on deep customer insights.
Businesses with great customer engagement strategy are always on the look-out for new ways to connect with customers so they can meet their high expectations.
Case study: Unite Healthcare
Unite Healthcare offers social care to local people in the Liverpool area. It was struggling to grow because of limited resources and time-consuming processes. By giving users mobile technology, admin times was cut from 2 hours to 30 minutes a day. This improved staff communication, sharing of patient information, and increased daily patient visits per day.
Case study: Schindler Group
Schindler Group started by collecting real-time data from its existing customers. This reduced its servicing costs. However, Schindler soon found their competitors to be doing the same. So, it refocused on digital and began using data from the internet of things to help prevent equipment failure, optimise elevator routes and identify potentially valuable innovations.
Digitised solutions strategy
This transforms what a company is selling. It targets information-rich products and services, to deliver new value and problem-solving solutions to customers. Over time, this can transform a company’s business model because its revenue stream shifts from transactional sales to sophisticated, value-laden offerings that produce recurring revenue.
3 key elements for success
Make your strategy clear – in both our case studies, whichever strategy was chosen depended on the company’s existing set-up and the way it wanted to compete. Most importantly, a successful digital strategy should be one or the other. Not both. Over time they may converge but initially, it should be clear to every employee what your digital strategy is. Without clarity you cannot guide employee innovation and resolve internal debates over priorities.
Get a strong operational backbone – For any digital strategy to succeed, a company also needs a good “operational backbone” – in other words, things like access to key data, customers and products, reliable end-to-end global supply chain processes and back office services.
It’s all in the planning – with a good operational backbone in place and a clear digital strategy mapping the way ahead, a company can create a value proposition that really gives them a competitive edge in todays’ crowded markets. Without it, they might generate a spate of innovations. But they won’t ultimately be able to deliver value-added applications or implement the next wave of technology. And more seriously for their future, they could get left behind.
Fairway Consulting provides Digital Transformation, vCIO and IT consultancy to help companies negotiate through the challenges and get the best value out of digital technologies and systems. We are passionate about helping our clients improve their bottom line using technology.
Interested in how your company could benefit?
How to develop a Digital Strategy (Federation of Small Businesses)