8 reasons your business must have a digital strategy

23 May,2016


By Jaspreet Bindra


Angela Arhendts, the CEO who made Burberry the first, truly-digital luxury company, once said, wistfully: “I grew up in a physical world and I speak English. This generation is growing up in the digital world, and they speak social.” The point is that the world is fast changing into one where customers speak a different language, and their physical reality effortlessly coexists with the virtual.


As the world changes around people, so must businesses — especially if they are not born digital in the first place. Here are eight reasons why your business cannot afford not to have a digital strategy:

1. Customers are going digital: They live in an alternate world – the world of WhatsApp, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Instagram – and they want to find you there, speaking their language. It does not matter whether your company is B2B or B2C; you need to interact with them in that world.


2. New channels of sale have emerged: e-commerce marketplaces, mobile commerce, selling on social networks and such. Customers expect you to be available in all these channels, and you need to embrace multiple digital avenues.


3. Business models are changing in this digital world: Now, the sharing economy has come in and upended traditional business models, with Airbnb making existing, idle houses available to travellers, and Uber enabling every car to become a taxi. The ‘platform’ business models are disrupting the most traditional business models.


4. Disrupt, or be disrupted: Even as you run your traditional business, you need a strategy to experiment with new, digitally-enabled business models and move your businesses towards them. Otherwise someone else will come in and disrupt you out of business. Many times these new business models will cannibalise your business.


5. Speed: Digital is faster, and speed is a massive competitive advantage. Any facet of digital you can think of — whether online marketing, social media, etc – the speed is blinding compared to its traditional avatar. Digitally-enabled companies, therefore, bring products to market much more rapidly.


6. Combined with speed is scale: Digital companies are inherently scalable. They grow and the scale is disproportionate  to the resources you add. They use network effects, and the economies of scale much more efficiently. Having a digital strategy implies using tools of scale such as algorithms, sensors, artificial intelligence, mobility, etc


7. Mobile phone: A mobile digital strategy is mandatory. It could be in the form of apps, mobile sites, messenger bots, location-based services and such. A phone can be used to augment your business.


8. Finally, going digital is about changing the culture of your people: The Internet is collaborative, crowdsourced, imperfect, and all-pervasive. A digital culture implies creating products that ‘just work’ and then rapidly iterating and improving them through crowdsourced ideas, tolerating and celebrating failure; active collaboration and informality. A digital strategy is incomplete without a people or culture strategy.


The digital web has staged an interactive coup, and has handed power firmly to the consumer. We as businesses which serve them, need to have a strategy to cope with this new reality. Or perish.


Jaspreet Bindra is a digital native, a change agent, organisation builder and a day-dreamer. He also happens to be Senior Vice President – Digital Innovation and Ecommerce, for the Mahindra Group of companies. The views here are personal. Twitter: @j_bindra. This article appeared first in dna of brands dated May 23, 2016.


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