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In Blog

By Phil Murphy

Organisational Digital Incompatibility – Restructuring To Compete In A Digital Native World

On 28, Apr 2014 | No Comments | In Blog | By Phil Murphy

How do traditional businesses compete with native web-based business? By forming a steering group?

Traditional businesses include high street banks and retailers, but how has the world of finance been disrupted by digital players, such as Zopa.

And, in the world of retail, who could have guessed how disruptive Zappos would be? Digital native companies show a flexibility, pace, and agility in their work practices and short-term strategic focus that is often difficult for traditional business modules to adapt to.

Unfortunately, many of the levels of signoff that work for traditional business are a hindrance at the required pace of digital, and are, often, out of date. Businesses that want to adapt to compete with flexible, modern digital companies have to do more than integrate digital services, they have to engender a fundamental shift in organisational change in order to restructure for digital commerce.

Changing Thought Processes
For most standard companies, it is the mindset rather than actual barriers that block the path to true digital success. Many companies hold onto traditional values and processes, simply because they have always been done that way. Unfortunately, there are few similarities between standardised and digital business practices.

Part of the process of change is recognising the value and potential of digital. For exampled, digital is cheaper, faster, more efficient, and more flexible than standard. Recognizing these facts, and acting on them is one of the biggest steps towards restructuring to compete with digital native companies. Businesses have to learn to think creatively, and to express themselves in terms of consumer needs, rather than company needs. This step is perhaps most difficult for senior management and executives, many of whom have been established since long before the digital revolution.

Create a Dynamic Company Structure
With a brick and mortar company, strategies, plans, and structures can be implemented over the course of months or even years. Unfortunately, this type of infrastructure simply does not work with digital. Digital is fast paced, constantly changing, and businesses that want to succeed with it have to adapt to it.

Learning to adapt and solve problems as they happen is crucial, because a plan that takes a few months to reach fruition will be outdated by the time it’s completed. This sort of dynamic company structure is one of the reasons why it is often so difficult to compete with modern, native-digital companies. True success with digital requires dynamic rather than static thinking, innovation rather than stagnation, and the willingness to move forward.

User Experience & Service Come First
One of the core foundations of successful digital companies is that consumers are the most important facets of the business. This is true to an extent in any type of business, but only in digital are customers and their experience with your brand, the core focus of everything from products to web pages. It is important for businesses to get to know their consumers, interact with them, ask questions, take feedback, and make adjustments for user satisfaction, user friendly digital platforms, and information architecture, based on engagement and feedback. Customers should be the primary focus of any business, because digital has engendered a service culture where customers expect to be valued.

Most digital based consumer’s value customer service a great deal. In fact, a large percentage of how they feel about a company could be based entirely on how they are received when they try to talk to that company. Businesses must ensure that consumers have a good experience if they want to be successful on the web. Despite that, consumers expect innovation rather than blind adherence to their expressed wants.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” Henry ford.

Establish a Clear Strategy that Works with Digital
One of the most frequently made mistakes during digital integration is when company management latches onto popular buzzwords and attempts to steer a strategy towards that without having any real idea of what implementing those strategies actually means. Unfortunately, the key to success with any digital strategy is to create an adaptable plan that outlines goals enough to strategise how to get there without specifically outlining steps. Which is almost the opposite of this common strategy.

The most important thing that any company can do to achieve their specific digital goals is to focus on creating a dynamic plan that is agile enough for the web. In this case, it is just as important to outline what should not be done, as it is to outline what should be done. Businesses that truly want to compete should set specific digital goals, strategise how to get there, and then work to create an adaptable digital plan to reach those goals

Create a Core Digital Team
A digital standalone team is crucial, and whether that means bringing in key staff to change the way the company thinks and acts around the web, or appointing a digital team already inside the company is up to the management. A digital team focusing on collaborative efforts across all digital facets, and with strong communication skills, can prove invaluable to any company. More importantly, it is crucial for that team to have a central vision of what is necessary for the business and to have the resources and responsibility to deliver.

  1.  Appoint a digital lead in charge of all digital services. Someone who can direct everything, approve anything, and take the blame if something goes wrong.
  2. Avoid spreading digital services across teams, this can lead to poor communication, slowed tasks, and fragmented services.
  3. Communicate.
  4. Value skills not roles.
  5. List people in charge of digital tasks.
  6. Use good management practices to encourage teamwork, innovation, and to create team relationships.
  7. Bring in experts as needed.
  8. Learn to adapt the roles of your digital team, working environment and skills to match each project.

Digital should be an integral part of most businesses, so it is important to create a digital team. The size of the team should depend on the size of the company, functions, ROI, and requirements, which will vary from company to company. There are no quick fixes and bringing in an outside team to temporarily provide services to cover issues is ok for the short term, but it’s counterintuitive to become overly dependent on an external vendor. Instead, take the time to grow your internal capability and integrate digital in order to make the business more flexible for the web.

Default to Digital
” Online is not something that can be neatly separated from the rest of the organization. It affects every aspect of the organization, from its employees to it’s customers. So, for that reason, you don’t need an online strategy. You need a single organizational strategy that is heavily influenced by online. ” – Gerry McGovern- CEO of Customer CareWords.

While it is important to integrate and launch a digital team, the end goal of any company should be to default to digital. That means integrating digital services at the core of the company. For example, when everyone automatically creates, designs, and thinks in terms of what works with digital, the company has successfully defaulted to digital. Digital should be an integral part of every facet of the business.

Live, Learn, Ship, Improve & Move On
Mistakes are a part of life and most businesses make them while transitioning to digital. Planning for mistakes and problems, and ensuring that they turn into lessons rather than roadblocks is the key to success. The best bet for businesses is to just ship work, don’t tinker with work waiting for the perfect moment, feature etc. just ship. Then test, adapt and implement your findings in V2, V3, V4 etc.

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