Digital Strategy & the Board

Digital Strategy is a plan that uses digital resources to achieve one or more objectives. With Technology changing at a very fast pace, Organisations have many digital resources to choose from.

Digital Resources can be defined as materials that have been conceived and created digitally or by converting analogue materials to a digital format for example:

  • Utilising the internet for commerce (web-shops, customer service portals, etc…)
  • Secure working for all employees from anywhere via VPN
  • Digital documents, scanning paper copies and submitting online correspondence to customers i.e. online statements and payment facilities via customer portals
  • Digital resources via Knowledge Base, Wiki, Intranet site and Websites
  • Automation – use digital solutions like robotics and AI to complete repetitive tasks more efficiently
  • Utilising social media for market awareness, customer engagement and advertising

A Digital Strategy is typically a plan that helps the business to transform it’s course of action, operations and activities into a digital nature by utilising available applicable technology.

Many directors know that digital strategies, and there related spending, can be difficult to understand. From blockchain and virtual reality to artificial intelligence, no business can afford to fall behind with the latest technological innovations that are redefining how businesses connect with their customers, employees, and myriad of other stakeholders. Read this post that covers “The Digital Transformation Necessity“…

As a Board Director what are the crucial factors that the Board should consider when building a digital strategy?

Here are five critical aspects, in more detail, and the crucial things to be conscious of when planning a digital transformation strategy as part of a board.

Stakeholders

A stakeholder, by definition, is usually an individual or a group impacted by the outcome of a project. While in previous roles you may have worked with stakeholders at senior management level, when planning a digital strategy, it’s important to remember that your stakeholders could also include customers, employees or anyone that could be affected by a new digital initiative.

Digital strategies work from the top down, if you’re looking to roll out a digital transformation project, you need to consider how it will affect every person inside or outside of your business.

Investment

Digital transformation almost always involves capital and technology-intensive investments. It is not uncommon for promising transformation projects to stall because of a lack of funds, or due to technology infrastructure that cannot cope with increased demands.

Starting a budgeting process right at the start of planning a digital transformation project is essential. This helps ensure that the scope of a project does not grow beyond the capabilities of an enterprise to fund it. A realistic budgeting and funding approach is crucial because a stalled transformation project creates disruption, confusion and brings little value to a business.

Communications

From the get-go, any digital strategy, regardless of size, should be founded on clear and constant communication between all stakeholders involved in a project. This ensures everyone is in the loop on the focus of the project, their specific roles within it, and which processes are going to change. In addition, continuous communication helps build a spirit of shared success and ensures everyone has the information they need to address any frustrations or challenges that may occur as time passes. When developing an effective communication plan, Ian’s advice is to hardly mention the word digital at all.

The best digital strategies explain what digital can do and also explain the outcomes. Successful communication around digital strategies uses language that everyone can understand, plain English, no buzzwords, no crazy acronyms and no silly speak.

Also read “Effective Leadership Communication” which covers how you can communicate effectively to ensure that everyone in the team are on the same page.

Technology

While there are many technologies currently seeing rapid growth and adoption, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will need to implement all of them in your business. The choice of technology depends upon the process you are trying to optimise. Technology, as a matter of fact, is just a means to support your idea and the associated business processes.

People often get overwhelmed with modern technologies and try to implement all of them in their current business processes. The focus should be on finding the technologies that rightly fit your business objectives and implement them effectively.

Never assume that rolling out a piece of technology is just going to work. When embarking on a digital project, deciding what not to do is just as important as deciding what to do. Look at whether a piece of technology can actually add value to your business or if it’s just a passing trend. Each digital project should hence be presented to Board with a business case that outlines the business value, return on investment and the associated benefits and risks, for board consideration.

Measurement

No strategy is complete without a goal and a Digital Strategy is no different. To measure the effectiveness of your plan you will need to set up some key performance indicators (KPIs). These metrics will demonstrate the effectiveness of the plan and will also guide your future decision making. You will need to set up smart goals that have clear achievable figures along with a timeline. These goals will guide and optimise the entire execution of a transformation project and ensure that the team does not lose focus.

Any decent strategy should say where we are now, where we want to get to and how we’re going to get there, but also, more importantly, how are we going to monitor and track against our progress.

Also Read

 

DevOps: An Immersive Simulation

It’s 8:15 am on Thursday 5th April and I’m on the 360 bus to Imperial College, London. No — I’ve not decided to go back to college, I am attending a DevOps (a software engineering culture and practice that aims at unifying software development and software operation) simulation day being run by the fabulous guys from G2G3.

I’ve known the G2G3 team for several years now, having been on my very first ITSM (IT Service Management) simulation way back in 2010 when I worked for the NHS in Norfolk and I can honestly say that that first simulation blew me away! In fact, I was so impressed with that I have helped deliver almost 25 ITSM sims since that day, in partnership with G2G3.

Having worked with ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) based operations teams for most of my career, I remember when DevOps first became “a thing”. I was sharing an office with the Application Manager at the time and I can honestly say that it seemed a very chaotic way of justifying throwing fixes/enhancements into a live service. This really conflicted with my traditional ITSM beliefs that you should try to stop fires happening in the first place, so as you can imagine, we had some lively conversations in the office.

Since then, DevOps has grown into the significant, best practice approach that it is today. DevOps has found its place alongside service management best practice, allowing the two to complement each other.

Anyway, back to the 360 bus — let me tell you a bit about the day…

On arrival, I met with Jaro and Chris from G2G3 who were leading the day. The participants consisted of a variety of people from different backgrounds, some trainers, some practitioners, but all with a shared interest in DevOps. Big shout out as well to the guys who came all the way from Brazil!!! Shows how good these sessions are!

The day kicked off with us taking our places at the tables that are scattered around the room as we are given an explanation of how the sim works. I do not want to go into detail about what happens over the day, as you really need to approach these sessions with an open mind, rather than know the answers. What I can tell you is that the rest of the day consisted of rounds of activity, with each one followed by opportunities for learning and improving and planning. There are times when you find yourself doing something you would never normally do, amidst the chaos of the first round. This was summed up by my colleague, another service management professional, who had to admit that they “put it in untested”, much to the enjoyment of the rest of the room!

The day itself went by in a blur! People who you met at the beginning of the day, are now old friends that you go down the pub with at the end of the day! These new-found friends are also a fantastic pot of knowledge, with everyone able to share ideas and approaches.

The day was a rollercoaster of emotions — At the beginning of the day, I was apprehensive about whether I had enough knowledge of DevOps. Apprehension quickly changed to a general feeling of frustration and confusion through round one, as I tried to use my Tetris knowledge to develop products! I finished the day with a real sense of satisfaction — I had held my own and the whole team had been successful in developing products and delivering a profit for the business. There were some light-bulb moments for me along the way, in particular around needing to make sure that any developments should integrate with each other and also meet the user acceptance criteria. I also realised that DevOps is more structured than I thought with checkpoints along the way to ensure success. The unique way in which simulations are delivered serves to immerse people in a subject whilst encouraging them to change behaviours through self-discovery.

I have always received very good feedback for ITSM simulations, and I can see that the DevOps simulation will prove to be as successful.

Several of us also returned to Imperial College the next day to attend the Train the Trainer session for the DevOps simulation. This means that we can now offer tailored simulations either as an individual session or as part of a wider programme of change.

Simulations are always difficult to explain, without giving away the content of the day, but if you would like to find out more, please contact me onsandra.lewis@bedifrent.com


Written by Sandra Lewis — Difrent Service Mannagement Lead
@sandraattp | sandra.lewis@bedifrent.com | +44(0) 1753 752 220