What Is Digital Strategy

This is part 2 of 3 in a series of posts answering, “WTD (What the Digital) in an effort to explain my opinion of the space I work in, and specifically what I do within that space.  First, I’ll take a shot at answering “What is Digital?” Then I’ll provide my opinion on “What is Digital Strategy?” Following these initial two posts, I’ll make my very best effort to answer “What Do You Do?” 

Last week I had an eye-opening conversation with the CEO of a technology startup about crafting his company’s digital strategy. During our chat, the CEO asked me a basic yet instigating/probing/ironic/interesting question, “What is Digital Strategy?” This question told me two very important things: First, I hadn’t explained well enough what I do and what the value of developing a cohesive strategy was for his organization. Secondly, “strategy” has become such a diluted and vague term that even the most educated and informed of business leaders are unclear as to what it’s definition could be in reference to digital.

This conversation spurred my thinking and made me realize it was time to draw a line in the sand regarding “digital strategy.” The definition outlined below is merely my opinion based on both successful and failed experiences in the digital space over the past 6 years. Now, having insulated myself by enough caveats to make a politician proud, here’s where my definition falls today:

“Digital Strategy is a high level vision that serves as the reason to believe, and as a directional compass that will inspire action and accountability for the organization and it’s customers (internal and external).”

A simplistic and potentially lacking definition, no doubt. But, I think there are a few key points that may help guide a business leader in understanding what digital strategy is and how it can benefit an organization.

  1. A good digital strategy stays at a high level. Tactics, specific actions, and the decisions that drive them are not part of a strategy. Rather, they should be informed by the research and tacit knowledge gained through developing a digital strategy.
  2. A good digital strategy serves the business by getting the organization closer to the customer. Therefore, a strategy must be nimble and adaptable enough to serve the business’ purposes. Any strategy that is too future-focused (anything beyond 6-9 months is probably grasping for straws), or too static in nature is a poor strategy.
  3. A good digital strategy inspires action. The emerging insights gleaned from a digital strategy should directly affect the way the business operates. Organizationally, a company must have the correct culture that is open to the change prior to building a digital strategy

There are a lot of things that compose a digital strategy; a few of which we’ll get into when I explain my job in Part 3. However, at its essence, Strategy is at least what I defined above. What would you replace/change in your definition of digital strategy? I’d really love to hear your opinion and grow together!

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