Five traits of successful digital strategies

by | May 24, 2019 | Our Thoughts

New technologies bring both opportunities and threats. E-commerce, for instance, has not only birthed the likes of Amazon and The Iconic, but given established bricks and mortar retailers a new sales channel. Both opportunity and threat must be met with a response – a digital strategy.

The Digital Strategy of the Future Report from the QUT Chair in Digital Economy identifies five traits that are important when creating an effective digital strategy.

Trait 1: Proactive service delivery

A digital strategy is more than digitising things you already do in the pursuit of efficiency. That may be how it started, but to effectively harness modern technology requires business models and service delivery that was never possible.

For instance, using ever-increasing computer power and real-time analytics, together with the data freely shared by customers, competitors and regulators.

Organisations should be offering products and services the moment they are needed. Perhaps even before the customer realises they need it. They should be able to identify forthcoming socio-environmental, legal or technological disruptors and disruptions, using this to proactively pivot when necessary.

Trait 2: Wider service scope

New technologies and processes, like open source and cloud infrastructure, have fundamentally changed the relationship between producers, consumers, the community and competitors. Often collaboration is key, and organisations should take this opportunity to re-imagine their role and redefine relationships with stakeholders.

Organisations should see themselves not just as a provider of products or services, but as potential partners. Customers, citizens and complementary businesses could be pursuing solutions to similar or communal problems.

By partnering in or funding outside projects, organisations may better realise their potential values and goals. But this requires developing the capability to proactively sense new threats and opportunities.

Trait 3: Frictionless service delivery

Organisations often understand where their biggest challenges lie, but in many cases they focus on improving internal processes. The ideal digital strategy should identify all barriers to service delivery and work on making this as frictionless as possible.

Some improvements are achievable when focusing internally, this can limit action on the biggest or lowest hanging fruit. In a time when customers are expecting almost instantaneous satisfaction, digital strategies should focus on identifying all opportunities to elimate frictions.

Trait 4: Devices as consumers and producers

Many organisations are not prepared for having a device – not a human – as a customer, employee or supplier. These could be robot workers in a factory, devices booking appointments or managing logistics.

There is great potential for the first to successfully cater to, and harness, devices in this manner. They offer entirely new customer bases and revenue streams. So digital strategy must account for a world where it is not just humans who make and matter in business decisions.

To go a step further, what happens when devices are on both sides of a transaction – when they are both buying and selling goods?

Digital strategies must account for the types and sources of data, and the corresponding decision making, required for this shift. As devices enter different segments or sectors, how will the organisation shift its offerings and build employee capabilities?

Trait 5: Enabling revenue resilience

Due to constant technological innovation, digital strategies must be technology agnostic. Some technologies will fundamentally change an organisation or sector, but a successful organisation does not apply a technology for it’s own sake.

Digital strategy must accept all revenue and technical possibilities. Both entirely new (i.e., can some processes be automated for greater benefit to the organisation?) as well as optimising existing resources (i.e., is there an idle asset that could be generating revenue?).

If new revenue streams are found in idle assets, then optimisation is key. If no amount of pivoting or re-imagining the existing resources is possible, then it may be necessary to build anew. However, the answer always comes back to the purpose and role of the organisation’s digital strategy, and who is involved in helping to deliver on it.

The Chair in Digital Economy is a joint venture and a globally unique partnership between, QUTPwCBrisbane Marketing and the Queensland Government. The Chair sets a world-class standard for collaboration among academia, industry and government. With all its partners, the Chair in Digital Economy has a shared goal to explore and develop new creative opportunities in an age of great disruption.

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