Here’s the dirty little secret the digital industry doesn’t want you to know: digital is just a tool.
Of course, I believe digital has infiltrated our lifestyles, breached the walls of our homes, transformed the way we learn, re-fashioned how we shop, and given us new opportunities to tell stories. Digital has/is changing the way consumers interact with brands, and has provided a transparent lens for the customer to view directly into the bones of the brands they love (or used to love). Digital has torn down the proverbial “Berlin Walls” scattered around traditional business, and has leveled the playing field between industry giants and burgeoning startups. It’s changed everything.
Yet, in a lot of ways, nothing has changed. Many organizations wrongly assume that applying a flavor of digital to their existing (and often broken) business model will solve their issues and save the day. The reality is that digital is only as powerful as the strategists and practitioners (business leaders, consultants, marketing personnel, etc.) who are using it. It reminds me of how wands are used in the Harry Potter series. If you remember, the students didn’t know how to wield the power of their wands when first attempting to use them. Even when they were more mature, the wizards were most powerful when using their own wands as opposed to using some random wand from off of the shelf. Digital is very similar.
Unfortunately, there is no magic spell that can produce results and provide customers with engaging and pleasing experiences. Simply “going Digital” via social, email, websites, online support, etc. can be less than productive if not tied to an intentional and customer-centered strategy. In fact, a poor digital experience could be even worse for the customer than no experience at all!
The key then, to unlocking the potential of digital lies in the question, “Why?” Before taking any action digitally, business leaders must provide answers to questions like: “why should we have a Facebook?” “why should we go mobile?” “why do we need an online portal?”, and so on and so forth. Tying every digital channel/tool to a broader answer to “why?” will provide the business with a robust strategy to engage their customers and fully leverage the power of digital. The fact remains, a robust digital strategy cannot overcome or compensate for a poor business model or dysfunctional culture. However, going through the process of creating a strategy that places customers in the middle of the business could very well unveil previously hidden issues as the various layers of the business are peeled back.
Therein lies the true value of digital. No, it’s not a cure-all magic spell that can guarantee success. It can, however, prompt the right kind of thinking within the organization to alter the way business is done for the better. How are you harnessing digital to enhance your business? Do you have a strategy guiding your efforts? There’s no secret to success. It’s plain and simple. Do the work, get smart, and be intentional with your efforts to use the magic of digital for the good of your business.