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Wireframe chess

The top five mistakes people make in developing a digital strategy

Digital strategy is often sidelined as the poor cousin of traditional planning and strategy. Even when it isn’t overlooked it still seems that many forget about why they are actually creating a digital strategy in the first place.

I want to highlight five of the top mistakes made when developing a digital strategy.

1. Not Clearly Understanding the Business Objectives

Seems pretty straight forward – you’d be surprised at how badly wrong this stage of the process can go. Clearly defining the business objectives is key in understanding how to plot the way forward with a digital strategy.

You need to be asking yourself these questions, what is the business trying to achieve?, what are the strong/weak points (SWOT Analysis)?, competitor landscape, economic environment and how this relates to achieving objectives in the short/medium and long term, business culture, operational divisions, financial position, sales, etc…

By fully understanding the business and its intricacies, you will be well placed to define the digital strategy objectives within the overall business requirements.

2. Too Much Focus on the Technology

You need the technology to make things happen digitally, but technology  requirements are the by-product of the digital strategy.

keeping the focus on technology often lands up steering the digital strategy away from the primary business objectives and forces the business into conforming to IT requirements rather than identifying the best technology required based on the digital strategy. This is easier said than done, especially in larger corporate environments where IT and technology processes are well defined and the policies which govern them.

It’s not always that easy to get a company to employ new technology or systems in favour of a “meaningless” digital strategy.

But its important to note that having a clearly defined plan will make it easier to either work within given technology parameters.

3. Measurement and KPI Disconnect

Great, you have a plan about how you are going to achieve your goals but how are you going to measure it?

What Key Performance Indicators do you have in place to account for your strategy?

This part of the process is critical, not only for the digital agency putting in place a digital strategy, but for the business to understand what the outputs and reporting mechanisms are for tracking success or failure.

Its easy to wash this over with technical jargon and lingo to get clients to think its an overly complicated process and expect much less from the final output but this is not sustainable and sooner rather than later it will all come crashing down.

Make sure that you establish key KPI’s and measurement goals, ROI objectives  – accountability is key.

4. Stakeholder Buy-In

If the business as a whole doesn’t understand what you’re trying to do then its going to be that much harder to communicate success and ensure long-term longevity and growth of the digital strategy – even if you have solid KPI’s in place.

This needs to be driven from the top down in any organisation. The most innovative and technically savvy companies are making a point of not only understanding the digital landscape but also ensuring that the rest of their organisations understand why the business is doing digital, what it means to them and the overall business objectives and also what is expected and not expected of them.

Make sure that the business is on board with this otherwise your task will be infinitely more difficult.

5. Strategy Evolution

This is a critical part of the process – ensuring long term evolution of the digital strategy.

Don’t just pay lip service to it and augment it with ongoing campaigns that do nothing for achieving the business objectives but rather focus on evolving the strategy in line with the goals of the business and competitive and economic landscape.

This also involves continuous feedback from the business in terms of financial information and KPI matching, including digital strategy outputs and deliverables within this framework.

Seems easy enough but if you don’t invest the time and resources in getting this right then the house of cards is inevitably going to come crashing down.