Putting digital at the heart of your organisation

It’s sometimes hard to think that digital has been around for more than two decades. In many ways it still feels new, experimental and somewhat scary.

Organisations deal with it in lots of different ways, often tentatively and usually without much research. Many create internal digital teams who, surprisingly, are then expected to operate in ‘silos’, separated from marketing and sales or other key departments. Others simply do what’s required to maintain an online presence.

Decisions are often made by teams who are simply too close to the problems they are trying to solve or, worse, solutions appear without consultation and which are not backed up by any data.

Many just haven’t worked out how to embrace digital and the opportunities and rewards it brings. There are still a surprising number of dots not being joined and bridges to be crossed.

It doesn’t have to be this way

For most organisations, putting digital at the heart of your operations shouldn’t be seen as an option. It should be the default position and treated as an exciting opportunity to evaluate and think differently.

It’ll mean those at the highest levels fully supporting any move and should involve a full, strategic, deep look at your organisation and a willingness to challenge the status quo.

Sounds scary, expensive and timely, right?

It needn’t be. If you’re serious about success, you’re probably already spending time trying to evaluate what works and what doesn’t. If so, (and without teaching you to suck eggs) make sure you take the time to consider the impact digital is having or can have. Are there any opportunities or threats that need exploring? Can you add new products or services or improve existing ones? Can you provide a better service to the clients you already have – which is cheaper than finding new ones? How are your competitors using digital to their advantage. This sort of knowledge can be very persuasive.

One of the tools I’ve found really helpful when thinking about this sort of change is the Business Model Canvas, taken from the excellent book Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. It offers a practical and adaptable way of examining your business and your competitors and, when used from a digital perspective, can really help you identify opportunities for improving value along the way.

The canvas features nine building blocks that relate to every business and, with digital firmly in mind, each block offers the potential for doing things differently. For example:

1. Customer segments

Customers are the heart of every business; without them you’re doomed. Can digital help you understand and satisfy their needs better? Can it help you reach and test new audiences? It can certainly help provide a more tailored or personalised service and improve communications, at the same time saving you money.

2. Value proposition

Think about the value you provide, the problems you are solving or the needs you are satisfying. These are what bring you your customers. Can digital add more value or solve new problems, creating more opportunities for you and your customers. Can it reduce risk or offer your products and services to new customers.

3. Channels

Communications, sales and distribution; these are your customer touch points and they dictate the success or failure of your value proposition. Regardless of segment, digital offers many ways of improving your customers’ experience, monitoring effort and adjusting on-the-fly. Customer expectations change all the time...

4. Customer relationships

Whether you’re seeking new customers, looking after existing ones or trying to boost sales, digital plays a key role in establishing (and maintaining) your relationships. Managing the expectations in each role requires a different approach. Can digital provide new opportunities? It certainly provides a fast, flexible and targeted solution – for all parties.

5. Revenue streams

Cash is king! Revenue is derived from your customer segments, so understanding what’s of value to customers in each segment is key. Can digital create opportunities for new revenue streams, or simply make it easier for your customers to pay you and/or cheaper for you to collect? Does it provide better options?

6. Key resources

What are the key resources and assets your business requires in order to deliver your value proposition? Can digital help to replace these or lower their costs? Can it provide opportunities for new revenue streams – think iTunes or First Direct!

7. Key activities

These are the things you need to do in order to deliver your value proposition, for example Microsoft needs to continue developing software. Digital can certainly help streamline or automate many actions and processes, reducing costs along the way. Can it help you and your customers solve problems, design and deliver better products, services or solutions?

8. Key partnerships

There are many reasons why companies form partnerships, including economies of scale, reducing risk and uncertainty, and sharing resources and activities. Can digital help manage these relationships and reduce costs by sharing infrastructure and resources, or by centralised or group purchasing? Can it create new opportunities for shared distribution or remove the reliance on a key partner – self-publishing anyone?

9. Cost structure

Creating and delivering value, maintaining customer relationships and generating revenue all cost money. Can digital help reduce these costs? Can it provide better and cheaper ways of acquiring and keeping customers, managing stock and distribution? Can it help deliver better value?

The answer to these questions is yes.

There are many rewards to be gained when you put digital at the heart of your organisation. Perhaps the biggest incentive for this kind of approach is that if digital is done well – and you’ve joined the dots and crossed the bridges – you’ll have created better relationships and amassed a ton of data and customer insights along the way. Not only will you know what’s working and what isn’t, you’ll start to understand why. Hello ROI!

We have the experience to help your company evolve in the digital world. We know how to engage with a range of audiences – and help you do better business.

To discuss how CPL can help you put digital at the heart of your organisation and improve the services you offer, please contact me.

Matt Askham senior associate - client services

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