But what is digital strategy,really?

To put it generally, digital strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve business goals via the implementation of digital initiatives. The big question all digital strategies must try to answer is:

What digital initiatives will prove most impactful to my business and come to represent the greatest return on investment?

Increasingly, digital strategy has come to encompass all aspects of business decision making as it concerns the strategic adoption and creation of new technologies and surfacing new, actionable information. The endgoals of business strategy, therefore, aren’t what’s changing — as technology develops and creates new efficiencies and insights, the strategies businesses use to increase their ROI must also develop to match it.

What’s perhaps the most crucial element of digital strategy is the introduction of new and improved digital solutions to familiar business challenges. Employees should be made more effective as a result of digital initiatives — a good digital strategy empowers employees and stakeholders with the information and technologies that make them better at their jobs.

The process of developing a digital strategy starts with an assessment of the organization’s current capabilities and digital process:

  • How do your company’s digital presence and digital capabilities stack up against your competitors’?
  • What are the areas of your business that would be most improved by digital initiatives?

A thorough, honest assessment of what your business is already doing with digital is a useful starting point from which impactful digital strategies can be conceived and implemented. In the assessment phase, interviews and focus groups are conducted to identify the bottlenecks and inefficiencies that will form the focus of your digital initiatives.

Once a thorough assessment has been conducted, potential solutions to the problems identified are proposed and vetted. These initiatives can transform everything from internal processes to customer-facing landing pages. A digital strategy often attempts to unify existing silos of the business and improve visibility for decision makers and executives.

With a solution or suite of solutions in mind, businesses create a roadmap complete with explicit deliverables, milestones, and a timeline for implementation.

Some businesses choose an agile, iterative execution model with rapid development and deployment cycles, as well as rounds of feedback along the way. Other organizations pursue a more traditional route, with digital strategy furnishing a complex schedule of planned investments over a 6-to-18 month timeframe.

Whatever the company chooses, the resulting strategy should focus only on helping it accomplish tasks more quickly, easily, and affordably, not on flashy new trends that may or may not increase ROI. While digital strategy is an increasingly important, relevant concept, what makes it important isn’t the buzz that surrounds it, but its pertinence to businesses everywhere in a quickly-shifting landscape.

You might have digital initiatives in place, but you can’t be sure they’re doing everything they can for you until you have a strategy in place. What’s your digital strategy?