This is article number 2 of 3 in the series on digital strategy. The topics we deal with are: Marketing, Systems and architecture, and design. Read the blog post about marketing here.
A digital strategy helps you as an organization to achieve your goals in an efficient way. The systems you use (or will use) therefore become an important part of this.
Example: If you experience information chaos because some employees like to talk together by e-mail instead of established joint communication channels and tools, this can hold you back as an organisation.
And such assessments will apply to all technical systems; from chat, project management tools, CRM, CMS, e-mail and accounting systems. The strategy must ensure that everyone in the company has enough flexibility to do the job in a fun and efficient way, while at the same time maintaining a structure and culture that enables you to achieve your goals.
What is a digital strategy within systems and architecture?
In the previous article, we explained what a digital strategy really is (goal setting, planning, prioritization and execution), and how we can create solid strategies in marketing. But how do we think about strategy when it comes to utilizing the technology itself?
The systems work for us, and should help us have a better everyday life. That's why we start with the people, never with the systems. There is much written about which systems are the best out there, and some systems are undeniably better than others. But until everything is on the table, it's about finding the system or systems that best suit your organisation; your employees and your customers. The people.
Why do we need a strategy?
Sometimes it is difficult to understand why you need a strategy. I like to think that it should put people on a track so that you don't need rules for all the exceptions that appear. So let's rather look at what can happen if you don't work according to a clear digital strategy:
I was recently in an online bank, where a banner at the top of the page promised me: "Everything you need to know about the BankID app". I clicked on the banner and was sent to an article about using the app. The problem was that it didn't help me connect the app to the bank.
"Obviously not everything I need to know", I thought and called customer service. A nice and helpful guy told me that “Yes, then you need to go to this other article that explains it.”
The people at customer service would close the case once I had solved my task. The underlying problem is not their table, and not something they are measured against.
While the bank is left with a success story, I'm left with a feeling that they didn't deliver on what they promised in that headline. My feeling is that they were measured on the number of closed customer enquiries, and how long they take to close a case.
Does this person work according to a strategy that drives growth and more satisfied customers? I do not think so. I also don't think he understands the value of the insight he is sitting on, or the cost related to having messy content on their websites.
A point I often think about from the agile project methodology manifesto is:
"We value software that works, over exhaustive documentation."
It is easy to draw parallels to similar values for those who work in customer service.
Evaluation of systems
An important part of the work with the digital strategy is to evaluate the systems you have, and set some guidelines for where you want to go in the future. Very often we can place the systems in 3 main categories:
- Systems that effectively solve challenges: The good systems we are satisfied with.
- Systems that are largely ignored: They are not used nearly as much as they should be
- Systems that work "just fine": Systems that people are forced to use to do their jobs, and have found their own detours to get the job done.
Your employees are probably good at getting the best out of the systems you already use. If you are forced to use tools to get the job done, you get into a routine that makes you efficient at doing just that. That is why it is often difficult to get changes made to important systems - most of the people involved in making the decision have probably been in the organization for so long that they have learned to suffer their way through the system relatively efficiently.
Systems that do not do the job are often simply ignored. Many have an old intranet lying around or a document management system that only a few use. Then it is difficult to imagine how it would look if it actually worked. This is where insight work becomes important. Find figures on the use of existing systems, and quantify the value of rectifying the problems. Make a business case where savings and benefits are highlighted.
The digital strategy must lay down some guidelines for how the people who follow it can achieve the desired results. And for that to happen, everyone must understand why you do what you do.
A basic rule: Make user-centric decisions
The consequence of using experience or assumptions about what customers really need and want is that you develop solutions for the wrong problem.
When you sit in a closed system, as a company really is when they don't user test solutions, you can unwittingly create systems and structures that work against customers, while you yourself believe that everything is in perfect order. In the worst case, you don't discover that you are sinking until your head is under water and the customers have switched to the competitor.
How much should you invest, and in what?
When we work with customers, it will always be up to each individual case how much should be invested in a digital strategy. But streamlining and using the company's systems in new ways will, in my experience, always be valuable, almost independently of the project budget.
You get the best ROI if you build a solid foundation, consisting of insight into both your own company and employees, and end customers' needs and preferences.
Deep insight pays off in all parts of the company, for a long time. Individual tasks that you set up to achieve goals have (and should have) an expiry date, while knowledge will lay the foundation for establishing these tasks three, five or ten years into the future.
There are many ways to acquire knowledge about your own company, but one of the best is filling in a risk matrix.
Strategy work is a lot about taking risks and investing.
Spend time mapping out risk areas, defining who follows them up, and what we do to avoid the problems. And here I wondered if I should be more specific than "spend time" - because how much is that really? This will vary according to the type of company, but if you decide to do the job, you are well on your way. And personally, I am a fan of the designer phrase "done is beautiful". But let me finish! I do not mean that it is about finishing risk mapping. On the contrary, I really believe that you should never stop following up on risk matrices. But by quickly finishing a draft, you open the arena for engagement and feedback that adds value to the entire matrix.
The two big pitfalls of a ROS analysis/risk matrix are namely:
- No one touches it: It could be that it is so good that no one has objections. It may be that it is so incomprehensible and large that most people lose track of it. It may be that people do not feel ownership of the content.
- It will never be finished: the area is felt by some to be so important that it cannot be done carefully enough. People also tend to get tired of designing something they haven't tried out yet.
How should we then work with the risk matrix?
- Use a simple framework to define risks. It should in any case contain:
- Action (if the danger kicks in)
- Trend / status
Time for action
To give you a good start, we have set up a Miro board (a digital collaboration tool) to help you set good goals for your project. It can be freely copied and pasted into your own workspace in Miro. If you are already familiar with the SMART process, just click on the banner below to gain access, but should you need an introduction to how the workshop should be carried out, you can read this blog post first.
Also get in touch if you would prefer us to carry out the workshop together with you, or if we should have a chat about digital strategy in your company.