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Benefits of a digital strategy for your business

Published:
23/09/2013

Incorporating digital technology to add value to your business is at the crux of a digital strategy, says Brisbane chief digital officer Kieran O’Hea.

But businesses should be aware there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to incorporating digital.

“A digital strategy will mean different things to different business, but ultimately it is about using a range of digital initiatives or tools to add value and increase your business’s economic performance,” Mr O’Hea said.

“It isn’t necessarily all about technology or marketing. Incorporating a digital strategy into your business is about skills, resources and making decisions.

“If your business is quite advanced, you could look at ways to incorporate digital initiatives into your business strategy. Use digital to get information, or use the internet to hit the export markets.”

Mr O’Hea said businesses should think about how their digital strategy could seamlessly complement their business strategy by incorporating areas like integrated marketing and sales, operations, people management, customer engagement and information technology.

“On the other hand, if you’re a one-person business, becoming digital might be as simple as updating to a smartphone, using certain apps which make your life easier, or becoming familiar with digital processes so you can see the benefits of doing something like selling goods online,” he said.

Adopting a more digital approach to the way you do business should lead to economic growth, and this growth could be achieved in different ways, depending on the scope of your organisation, Mr O’Hea said.

“Digital can help you grow revenue, cut down on costs, access export markets or create jobs,” he said.

“There is a direct correlation between increased digital uptake and job creation. In fact, every company that goes through digital transformation creates on average 2.6 new digital jobs.

“In Australia in the last quarter of 2012, 47,500 temporary jobs were created in the post, transport and warehousing chain – many of them attributable to online shopping.”

But it isn’t just about exporting via the internet.

Mr O’Hea said a digital strategy could be as simple as making a small change to save you time, or cut a cost.

So how do you set a digital strategy that suits your kind of business?

One of the first things a business contemplating a digital strategy should do is to assess the skills within the organisation.

“A skills audit is very important because you need to find out who within your own staff has an interest or knowledge about digital, and what it can be used for,” Mr O’Hea said.

“In a survey I led among 1500 employees, 25 per cent of respondents indicated that they had a range of self-taught digital competencies that they were not called on to use at work.

“Once you know who can do what, you can look at what needs to be done and what the roles and responsibilities are.”

Mr O’Hea also stressed that any business embarking on a digital transformation needed to ensure it had endorsement from the very top levels within the organisation.

“Digital strategies need to have buy-in at the CEO, board and business ownership level to be effective,” he said.

It is only then that a business owner can embark on the setting and delivery of an effective digital strategy tailored for their business.

Kieran O’Hea’s top tips for incorporating digital into your business planning  

Who owns the strategy and who is driving it?
Incorporating digital needs to be taken seriously by your organisation and will only succeed if it is embraced and championed from the very top level.

Determining your digital capability
How digitally mature is your business? How active are you currently in the digital space? How digital do you want to be?

What’s best practice in your sector?  
Take the time to research your competitors. Who is doing what well? Create a roadmap and take an incremental approach to matching or even emulating them.

Address the skills and resource issue
What skills are in your business? Who has what knowledge of digital and who enjoys it? Who will you allocate to do what tasks?

What do your customers think?
Do your customers want particular services? Do they want to communicate with you online?  Do they want to buy from you online? How digitally literate are they?

Where should you go for advice?
Which supplier can best meet your needs? Who understands what you want to do?  Where can you get recommendations?

What online presence is right for you?
Do you have a website? Do you want to sell products from your site? What other online channels do you have or want to use?

What impact do you want digital to have on your bottom line?
What kind of value do you want from your digital strategy? Do you want to sell online to increase your reach and profit? Do you want to automate systems to save you time? Do you want to use digital to get more data about your customers and their habits?

How will you measure your digital strategy?
Familiarise yourself with digital metrics and how you can measure success in digital. How will you achieve ROI from your digital marketing? Do you know how to measure the value that digital will add to your business?

 

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