Sunday, October 9, 2011

Digital strategy – times they are a changing

“May you live in interesting times” is supposedly the English translation of a Chinese curse.
And although the phrase may not have exactly been as written, the sentiment behind it is clear…… when things are changing, life is hard.

Corporations are also finding the current business climate difficult. We are quite possibly on the brink of another global recession and consumers & businesses are clamping down on spending. Some analysts are even saying that we may need to rethink finance, consumerism and even our way of life. Things are…… interesting.

But the Internet is OK isn’t it? Well, quite possibly it is if you look at it just as a network of inter-connected machines that exchange data. But if you are the person responsible for crafting your company’s (or client’s) digital strategy, then you don’t just have to revise it yearly to follow the organisational business plan… you need to evolve your thinking far faster to stay abreast of the latest innovations and thinking.

Only a few years ago, Social Media wasn’t of any real concern to the digital strategist. Yes, it was there in the form of blogs and forums, but it never had the numbers, passion and backing until the major social networks gained traction. Now these same networks are releasing feature after feature all the time, gaining users across the globe and affecting the way people communicate and live.

And that’s just one factor at work. When you combine others such as : local search, augmented reality, QR codes, mobile and more….. all developing and innovating in their own ways, any digital strategy is already out of date by the time its written and printed out.

What’s therefore needed is for a digital strategy to be a living document. Taking this concept further, an agile approach is needed not just in its creation, but in its maintenance and implementation. In essence, I think that the thoughts driving y online improvement forward need to exist in something more like a Wiki than a Word document.

The main issue in my opinion is that although this idea is perhaps a practical way to address the ever-changing Internet landscape…. this approach would conflict with the typical process-heavy structure and governance within most corporates. It is therefore a shame that the very companies that need such a flexible approach are the very ones least likely to implement it.

Digital strategists are indeed living in interesting times.
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