As digital takes its place within business strategy, how can business define ‘critical success’ and manage the implications for integration?

Businesses are moving steadily towards the adoption of Digital within their organisations, and the emergence of the Chief Digital Officer has signaled that Digital needs to take its rightful place within overall business strategy.

Executing this digital take-up is not without its challenges. The main focus for organisations is to understand how Digital is impacting business, what constitutes ‘critical success’ and the organisational implications of integrating Digital strategy into the business.

Below we’ve outlined a number of insights that we believe will help organisations to better plan for, implement and measure success of Digital.

Insight 1: What do You Mean by ‘Digital’?

When defining your Digital strategy, there are many interpretations of what ‘Digital’ means – and all would be right.

‘Digital’ has become an all encompassing term that for business can include the Internet; cloud-based service delivery; digital automation of business processes; customer interaction and engagement via online marketing or social media; mobile applications for tablets and smartphones; and big data, not to mention the ability to embrace mobility for your workforce.

To help organisations with this conversation, we distill Digital into three key categories:

  • Providing new products and services to customers
  • Enhancing existing products and services with Digital
  • Process improvement, be it re-engineering, replacing and integrating Digital into the mix

Insight 2: Integrating Digital Strategy Into Overall Business Strategy

The second insight is that businesses must ensure that Digital strategy for each category is integrated into overall business strategy to enable it to succeed. For example:

  • New products strategy – to create a new customer product (New)
  • Enhanced customer strategy – to offer existing Digital content in a tablet or mobile format (Existing)
  • Efficient strategy – to create automated workflow for procurement (Process)

Insight 3: Organisational Structure and Delivery Models + Digital

Our third insight is that an organisation’s structure and delivery models need to compliment the integration of the Digital strategy into the business.

For example, does the organisational structure and delivery model lend itself to:

  • ‘Experimental’ delivery and a skunkworks style autonomy with an agile management style? (New)
  • Digital being one element within an overall solution, what works best within existing structures? (Enhance)
  • Digital being one element within an overall solution, what can be improved with digital integration? (Improve)

Insight 4: The Cultural Divide

The fourth insight is a very important one, because with the introduction of a ‘skunk works’ delivery team there is potential for a cultural divide to appear.  Skunk works appeared as a term during the Second World War by engineers working at Lockheed, where a team of engineers where tasked with developing a fighter jet with minimal management constraints.

In project delivery via a skunk works style approach, there needs to be awareness of an ‘us and them’ culture that may unfold within the business between digital staff and the rest of your staff.

This is because:

  • Digital staff tend to be younger, less ‘business’ experienced and more experimental than traditional staff (both in the business and IT), which can result in a clash of cultures.
  • The freedom and autonomy offered to skunkworks-style teams can and does create an ‘us-and-them’ divide with the rest of the organisation, so care needs to be taken to position and integrate the outputs back into the business.
  • Without the business-buy-in, the outputs run the real risk of become shelf ware.

Insight 5:  C-suite Sponsorship is Vital

The final and by no means least important insight is that for Digital initiatives to be successful they must have C-suite sponsorship and actives support. This provides a means to:

  • Position the Digital within the context of the organisation’s overall strategy
  • Foster collaboration effectively across the organisation
  • Drive business buy-in to outputs generated from Digital teams.

The upshot of these insights is that the integration of Digital into business strategy is complex, as its tethers can reach far and deep into the organisation. However, despite that complexity, there are numerous advantages to integrating digital. The challenge is to ensure that your business is set up for success from the outset.

As project specialists, we develop fit-for-purpose strategy.  Contact us here to find out more about how we work with your teams or call 02 9098 6300.

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Quay Consulting
Quay Consulting is a professional services business specialising in the project landscape, transforming strategy into fit-for-purpose delivery. Meet our team ...