Transforming your business operations: Do you have a Digital Strategy?

By Batanai Kamunyaru | 27 Aug 2019 at 23:12hrs
Including digital topics in the boardroom was not seen as a 'must' a couple of years ago, but not anymore. The business environment continues to change daily, and existence of some business is being challenged. To transform the operations of a business, the organisation must have a digital strategy which looks at the future of each operation. A digital strategy is known to involve the application of digital technologies to the business model so as to form new differentiating business capabilities. As a standard, for business to remain strong, it must continue to differentiate itself from the others at any given opportunity.

To improve business performance, technology is playing a key role, especially in coming up with new products or re-arranging the business processes. It is therefore time for organisations to have digital strategies, and with a digital strategy, you will be preparing for the future success of the business. Every day a challenge to the business emerges, whether in the form of new products or in the form of new competitors. Mostly, these challenges are being driven by technology. In the last decade, there has been a tremendous shift in the way transactions are being handled and this has forced almost every customer to be using some form of digital technology.

Such a change in the last decade has also caused a shift in customer behavior and expectations. Customers now expect more for every dollar that they pay, be it in the form of quality or quantity. The expectations have brought a huge challenge to business, as businesses are being forced to re-invent themselves to be able to keep pace with what the customer is asking for. What this therefore means is that, the business cannot continue to operate in the way that it has been operating in the past – new ways have to be invented or the business risk losing customers as it fails to meet the expectations. The hard copy approach to business is no longer acceptable!

Daily, digital is being engraved into the customer buying behavior, and as a business, not taking the issue of digital seriously will be ignoring future profits and existence. Also, the rate at which customers want to communicate on digital platforms is rising, as a result the online existence of businesses should be taken seriously. Several customers are now searching for products online, even though they might then go and buy offline – this behavior by customers must be noted. As the future is changing, there must also be changes in the boardroom. No board meeting should end without talking about the digital strategy of the business, especially when it comes to its operations.

C-suite leaders are to interrogate the digital strategy of the business whenever they have a meeting. Business is now being won or lost online. The digital trends are also creating very good opportunities for businesses of all sizes and industries. It is the digital strategy that specifies the direction the organisation will have to take to create new competitive advantage through the use of technology. The greatest opportunity or challenge that the digital strategy will call for is the change of the business model, as technology is making it possible for businesses to provide products or services that were not possible before.

The key role of a digital strategy is to look at activities and processes that need to be transformed to be able to deliver the best customer experience. Thus, all sections of the business must be incorporated, from the production of the products and services until the product or service has been delivered to the customer. You might be wondering whether it is the time for your business to be adopting a digital strategy or not, the time is now, and digital is the future.

The digital strategy must start by looking at the operating model and aim to bring it to speed with the changes in the digital world. Old means of production will not compete with the new operating processes that are being brought to life daily by the advancement of the digital world. To give the business a competitive advantage, producing at the lowest cost is key. The advancement of the digital world has brought quality to a very good standard, therefore the competition is mainly on who can produce at the lowest cost. It is the business that adopts the latest technology in its operations that will compete fairly well with the new businesses.

When the business has gone digital in its operations and it is saving on costs, it must move on to the delivery model. The delivery to the customer must be done in the shortest possible time. For example, to deliver the products and services efficiently and smoothly, Amazon is adopting the use of drones to deliver to customers. With the adoption of such a delivery model, the customers are likely to get their products at the earliest time without delays. This then improves customer experience, leading to repeat business.

However, the business should not just draft a digital strategy because it has become the thing to do in the era. The digital strategy must be helpful to the business as a whole. Engaging in the drafting of a digital strategy without understanding may lead to waste of money, valuable time and opportunities for the business. Not only will the organisation lose money, time and opportunities, but there are huge chances of confusing the company's overall strategy. Therefore, before engaging in the drafting of a digital strategy, the business leaders must take time to address certain questions related to the strategy and interrogate what exactly they will be planning for the business.

Some questions to ponder on include: How is the digital technology going to change the business operations? The assets of the business and the capabilities of a business must be looked at and see how best they can be combined with new digital technology to produce new business through new products and services. To consider also is whether the technology is going to help your business expand or not. If the business is going to expand, to what level is it going to expand, and will the existing employees and management be able to handle the expansion? Sometimes expanding more that your capabilities will be inviting problems into the business. All of a sudden the manager who was in charge of 5 employees will not be able to cope with 15 employees. Or the production managers will not be able to handle the increased output at very good standards and quality.

How is the new digital technology going to add value to your already existing customers and consumers? How could digital technology help you deliver value to your customers and consumers? Also, is it going to help you remain competitive? There are businesses that became worse by adopting digital technology that they did not take time to understand and master. Instead of improving the turnaround times to the customer and consumers – the service delivery became worse than before. Such are the pitfalls of rushing into adopting digital technology that is not well understood. Some organisations have adopted digital technology that is costing them money but without getting the value they were hoping to get, and customers are frustrated.

Is digital technology going to help you maintain the current customers and add new ones? In adopting digital technology, have an understanding of how the technology is going to affect your customers. In some instances, it might mean that the current customers have to go and you have to create new customers. Will your business be comfortable about losing the existing customers and hope to get new customers and still maintain the same or better revenue and profitability numbers? Digital technology had a huge blow for the newspaper industry and the travel agents. Half a decade ago, people relied on travel agents for their hotel booking and flight bookings, now it is a matter of clicking a button and all will be reserved for you.

The business leaders therefore need to consider the level to which new digital technology will enhance the business's capabilities that differentiates it from its competitors. If the digital technology is going to give the business a competitive edge, then it is worthy to invest in such technology. However, there are some digital technologies that has potential to slow down your business growth – this normally happens when an investment is done without first checking the impact of such a technology.

With the continued change of the business environment, digital strategies are no longer an option but an important item to position the business well against its competitors in the context of the digital economy. Most importantly, the digital strategies are creating many exciting opportunities ahead, especially for the organisations that are moving with speed in line with the changes that are happening in the business world. Every organisation, large or small, must rise and be ready to meet with innovation or it risks being left behind.

Batanai Kamunyaru is a business writer, speaker and coach. He can be contacted on or +263 718 852 489 or LinkedIn



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