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  • Writer's pictureAlex Johns


Updated: May 22, 2018

On my travels, I meet a lot of business, brand & agency owners and the one word that comes up time and time again is the word digital. It's such a catch all nowadays to describe a multitude of things going on today ... it describes for instance a Digital watch, it's the collective noun for hundreds of agencies core business practise, how many Digital agencies are there each offering something completely different yet struggling to describe what they do to give them cut through which means we corral it all together and pigeon hole very different core expertise in the same bucket. You get my drift, but someone who builds a website, is different to someone who creates social media campaigns and is different to someone who specialises in digital advertising ... ) & to make matters worse it's also the phrase to describe the platform we now choose to browse be it the web, mobile, iwatch, Digital TV or Digital Radio and that's not to mention AR & VR which would also fall into the digital bracket ... basically the word was good one day when the web was created but it surely needs refreshing to make it easier for everyone to understand.

Worst case, the misuse of the word digital pigeon holes you into something you aren't so your customers and employers are totally confused which leads to poor performance all round.

So in a world where everyone is more connected than ever, the first step is to decide what you mean by the word digital ... for some people it's about the use of innovative digital technology, for others it's about engaging with customers digitally or it could just be about innovating and creating a new product or service.

To make it a little simpler, I've tried to break down digital into 3 ways companies can embrace the word for the good of their own business:

1. A brand new way:

Digital at it's essence has seen the Internet of things open up new sectors and products extraordinarily quickly, think how Uber has reinvented getting a cab or Bitcoin has disrupted banking or how Tesla has created an electric car market. Today probably faster than ever before, your business could be launching a product differently, using data to unlock new understanding or to communicate with your customers differently. But, and this bit is crucial, you need to be open minded, curious to learn new things, to understand how your customers decisions are evolving and to adapt the way we do business. Change you must, be open minded, prepare to adapt and move fast, if you don't someone else will...

Serve Better:

Once you have become open minded to the brand new way, you then need to work out how digital can truly serve every element of your customer offering better. This means deeply thinking about how you might use digital to make you more efficient & speed up your customer offering or how you can use data & insight technologies to learn more about what your current and potential customers are searching, browsing and buying in order to make your sales and marketing efforts more successful. Digital isn't a one time offer though, it's an always on offer which is based on data and insight & which is constantly evolving. This may mean launching a new product which allows you to offer a different solution to your current customers.

You might sum up this into 3 headings:

1) Relevance - using digital to make you more relevant by making decisions based on insight

2) Modification - filtering your content offering to ensure it's right for the medium your customer is using and isn't the same on a website, mobile, watch or an AR/VR experience.

3) Innovate - using digital to unlock new ways to sell to and engage with your customer

A new platform:

Being truly digital means having the right technologies in your business to make you leaner and more efficient. This may mean a change of mind set amongst the key people within your organisation but done well being truly digital can make your business far more agile. (this is difficult as the choice nowadays is truly eye watering!) This does not mean adding on technology for technologies sake which can make businesses hugely slow and unresponsive, it means created a connected company where your staff and customers can engage with you and your product offering more easily.

Digital isn't a catch all word to describe something, it's about unlocking something new in your business, it's about adapting your business so that you can grow faster and it's about deeply understanding every way you can make your business fit & relevant now and in the future.

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