Digital transformation begins with strategy. Culture and leadership are equally as important, yet often more difficult to achieve. It’s strategy that’s the foundation for digital transformation success.
What is the role of digital strategy?
At its core, digital strategy is a decision-making process that aligns your organization’s vision, goals, opportunities, and activities. This alignment is necessary to maximize the business benefits of digital initiatives. These benefits can include a new organizational focus that considers the broader opportunities and risks that digital initiatives could create.
For example, changes in the publishing industry could lead to changes in an organization’s use of:
- Member intelligence
- New product/market exploration
- Sales and service optimization
- Enterprise technology architectures and processes
Or, digital initiatives could affect marketing- and member-focused activities such as websites, mobile apps, online communities, eCommerce, social media, SEO, and advertising—elements that are typically considered part of an organization’s online strategy.
In most instances, your association is probably engaged in an online strategy as you work toward a full digital strategy. There are numerous approaches to developing an online strategy, but fundamentally they all go through the same four steps:
- Identify the opportunities and/or challenges where online assets can provide a solution.
- Identify the unmet needs and goals of the external stakeholders (members) that most closely align with those key business opportunities and/or challenges.
- Develop a vision of how online assets will fulfill those business and external stakeholder needs, goals, opportunities, and challenges.
- Prioritize a set of online initiatives that will deliver on this vision.
How do you know whether you’re ready for digital transformation?
As the evolution toward a true “digital first” organization progresses, your association must be able to positively answer these five questions:
- Is our decision-making process rooted in the wealth of analytics and insights provided by the digital universe?
- Is the brand experience we create always available to our audiences (e.g., the dynamic social media experience versus the frozen snapshot of a print piece)?
- Is the product or content we are developing intended for digital use, and perhaps later adapted for other channels (versus the other way around)?
- Are we dedicating the resources necessary to stay at the digital forefront?
- Are we recruiting the talent that will be able to move the organization into an interactive digital future?
At an organization-wide level, embracing a digital strategy is critical to every association that wishes to stay relevant and maintain (or grow) their market share and voice in their industry/profession. Transforming the digital operations of the organization will also ensure that you are focused on top priorities, fully aligned, nimble, accountable, and transparent. An association that undergoes digital transformation fully integrates digital technologies and strategies into their operations in alignment with their goals and objectives.
What does digital transformation look like?
Like most organizations, your association probably finds itself immersed in an ongoing effort to restructure, realign, and rebuild your digital technology operations. This is, without question, a significant undertaking with numerous challenges and pitfalls. In most cases, the fundamental drivers of many associations’ digital initiatives can be boiled down to these value propositions:
- Improve the member experience.
- Change the culture.
- Modernize the digital infrastructure.
- Enable digital processes.
- Provide strategic digital leadership.
Your association’s digital transformation roadmap should be all about timing. In this two-sided timing equation, you cannot try to change the entire organization at once, nor can you do some foundational things too late. It is highly important to engage executive leadership at the early phases of digital transformation. Equally, you cannot truly advance without strong internal governance. The result of moving too fast or too slow can be confusion among staff and the loss of their emotional buy-in, which can manifest in “change fatigue.”
Need a roadmap to define your digital strategy?
DelCor has created an easy-to-follow Digital Strategy Toolkit for Associations & Nonprofits to provide organizations with a roadmap for your first steps toward digital transformation. Download it free, then drop me a line if you want to learn more.
A version of this post first appeared on LinkedIn.