Numbers are falling, customers seem moving away to other suppliers. The CEO is told he needs a digital strategy. Two years later. You did everything right. You wrote an important document with requirements, specifications, budgets, and planning. To that, you added an excellent roadmap with colored bars and installed a team of top people.
Now you have to admit, nobody read the report, nothing changed at all. Budgets are out of control. You are not outperforming the market, but the market is outperforming you.
What went wrong? There is not merely one way to execute a successful digital strategy. Empowerment and uniting the right people, at the right time and place in a shared mission, step by step, and with persistence is for one essential.
5 Reasons why Digital Strategies fail
1. A strategy is mostly about changing people.
Digital strategy is all about change. The word transformation has already lost its shine, that hype has come and gone. But seriously, regardless of the terminology, changing people is still the hardest mission in any context.
There isn’t one clear-cut way to deal with change. One thing we recognize in every successful strategy is empowering and uniting the right people, at the right time and place in a shared mission, step by step, with patience and guidance. No small task indeed.
2. The market doesn’t wait, not even for you.
The tendency is to focus too much on both internal politics and reality. Too often we hear: "It works like this, it always has. This setup or process cannot change, something else needs to change first". As digital drivers, we have seen all these possible responses before, and are able to quickly identify and intercept them.
Sometimes you may feel like you’re the only one in your team or company that is actively dealing with these roadblocks. As if you’re the only one that sees the urgency of adapting to the fast-changing markets. But you are right to do so - marketplaces keep growing, and managing data becomes more demanding by the day.
Before you start working on a strategy, make sure the urgency of adapting to a fast-changing market is acknowledged and shared. Make the organization focus on the world outside, not just inside. Present the story of successful change, over and over again. And even more importantly, let your customers tell your story!
3. Literally everything, is critical, essential, and vital!
Organizing a few workshops usually creates some momentum. You’ve explained the purpose and urgency all over again, to all stakeholders in the room. The response is very positive, with the consensus being this realization and change was long overdue. The day is over, the deliverables delivered, and you go back to your business as usual.
The day to day activities take over again, because there are always both new and existing fires to put out. However, never forget that the most important task you as management have is to create focus and room for growth. Make your organization commit to a clear goal, and provide the support and trust needed to create an environment that dares to change and move forward. Learn fast, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and accelerate. There is no time to waste.
4. Oops, we forgot the customer!
Have you ever been in a meeting with a customer service colleague and the vice president at the same time? It never ceases to amaze, seeing live how they describe the daily reality completely different. Sometimes it might even sound like they are working for two different companies.
A good strategy is always based on a complete 360 customers view, not just the general directions and takeaways. Completely understanding their drivers is key. What is their daily work routine? Why are they using your product or service? What do they miss and really need, also on an emotional and social level? Acquiring this information demands more than basic registration forms. You need detailed and actionable data-driven insights.
More importantly, never approach gathering these customer insights as a one-off exercise. Make it a non-negotiable part of every new business initiative and daily process. Never start a new initiative if it isn’t validated by customer insights or properly analyzed. Read more about how to get actionable insights on your customer behavior.
5. The CIO & CMO are not in it together!
All the problems described here mostly arise when the IT and marketing executive don’t share the same goal, strategy, or budget. For a digital plan to succeed, these initiatives should be rolled out in a single and transparent environment. Digital should function as the bridge that facilitates genuine customer engagement, across all touch-points of your company.