What is a digital business strategy?

Posted by Philip Wong on

As a digital business strategist, I do a lot of research and study about the many new and emerging digital technologies to help my clients in their existing business activity, focusing on enabling digital capabilities in their business.

 WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?  New digital technology allows business to create new value in customer experiences and the internal capabilities that support its core operations [1]

If there is any time to do this - the time is now. 

A recent study reported that forty-two per cent (42%) of CEO s say "digital first" or "digital to the core" is their company's digital business posture [2].  Most business leaders are looking into the entire organisation – from IT, finance, marketing, product development, supply chain and customer service; to create a digital vision that will achieve ongoing business sustainability and growth of their own. 


Start being a leader by asking yourself questions, such as:
(1) “how can technology be used to improve or change my business for the better? and
(2) “is new technology disrupting my business, and if so, how can I turn this to my advantage?” 

Articulate in words any or all of the following business overall goals by filling in the rest of this sentence

“I would like my business to ………………. ”. 

  • sell online (set up an online shop? WooCommerce, Shopify)
  • make customers happy (Customer Relationship Management “CRM”)
  • get more customers (social media marketing, retargeting?)
  • grow my income and increase customers (develop a sales funnel of people who like me)
  • improve quality control (quality management software)
  • automate processes faster (e.g. cloud computing, business systems, ERP)
  • reduce costs (ERP, automation)
  • increase security (Internet security)
  • work less and increase work-life balance (this plan)
  • increase staff retention and morale (human resource plan)
  • Others: you can add as many more as you want to …………………… 

Next.  Set clear timeframes when you want the above to happen.  Obviously, not all at once.  A SMART goal is an acronym that means “specific – measurable – achievable – realistic – and time-bound”.  If your goals tick all these boxes, you can be sure that you are on the right track.  Without SMART goals you are working towards a goal that you may not achieve, or get no return for.  [3] 

  • One week
  • One month
  • Three months
  • Six months
  • One year 

Then.  Set milestones. Determine when and how you are going to measure your achievements.   How will you measure each milestone, and by a specific target date?

  • Sales Turnover
  • Cost reduction
  • Increase in profit
  • Staff Morale (survey)
  • Other …………………………… 

Examples: (1) set up a website?  … in 3 months; (2) grow revenue by 12 percent in this quarter; (3) get ranked (1 – 3) on Google for three – five target keywords in one month; (4) grow list of newsletter subscribers by 200 in one month?   Or others ……………….  Sourced from Business Victoria [4]

Who is accountable for making it happen? Get a team together.  If it is only you, send SOS to LinkedIn members who – you might be surprised – can help. 

Outsourcing is a viable option because it can help your company grow and save money at the same time, when it’s done correctly and for the right reasons.  Outsourcing allows you to focus on your core in-house activities without sacrificing quality or service. [5].  

Finally.  Write your ideas down, as a snapshot of what you have decided as a Plan and then Implement it.   Don’t sweat the details! [2]   Only know that - If your ideas stay on paper, and you don’t take action, clearly nothing will happen.  

Iteration.  This may be the first cycle, and things may change.  Things always change – it’s the nature of evolution.  That’s completely fine.  

At the end of this iteration (or ‘cycle’) you can check with everyone on the team to find out the status, what everyone knows.  What you know goes a long way to show you what you can learn from your mistakes.  Reflection is a big part of moving forward.  The learning is documented in a library of ‘Lessons Learnt’, a valuable company-asset. 


Suppose that you decide on implementing cloud computing in your organization.  

The metaphor of ‘the cloud’ is used to refer to the ‘internet’ as opposed to knowing exactly where it is ‘on-the-ground’.  It’s everywhere and nowhere – and you cannot see it in real life. 

Cloud computing is a collection of services that include servers, storage databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence – the list is growing – over the internet.  

You are probably using cloud computing right now, even though you don’t know it.  If you use webmail, watch films or listen to music, store pictures and files, cloud computing is what makes it all work.

 Top benefits of cloud computing are [6]:

  • Reduced Costs – you no longer need the capital expense of buying hardware and software, set up and maintenance by your own individual business and employ on-site specialists. You outsource the capital expense and hire others instead.
  • Speed – most cloud computing services are “self-service”, “on-demand” like YouTube™, Netflix™ or iTunes™ (business-to-consumer) or XERO, Salesforce, Zoho and Quickbooks Online (business-to-business).
  • A Global scale – ‘scale’ is the ability to ‘power up’ or ‘power down’ when you require the correct amount of IT resources when needed; without necessarily increasing costs proportionally. A global scale takes into account the 'span' that is possible with your operations, if that is what you wish.
  • Productivity – “Doing-It-Yourself” needs focus, care, time and local resource cost. With automation and digital technologies such as ‘artificial intelligence’, your team can now spend more time achieving your business goals, rather than working on the details.  The details make it harder for you to start your journey.
  • Performance – most cloud computing services, like Amazon and Google run on a worldwide network of secure data centres; ALWAYS updated and protected.
  • Security – cloud service providers follow a strict set of policies, technologies and controls that strengthen security to protect data, apps and infrastructure from threats [6]

 What is your digital business strategy?" [2] 


A digital strategy is one that aligns both the use of new technology to overall business objectives (business goals).  That means that you need to know what these technologies are, then design a digital business strategy with SMART goals, and not take a shotgun approach where you do things indiscriminately without reason or thought.  That would be the first reason for failure – wasted resources (time, money and effort). 

There is a growing body of research that looks at the new tools to lead organisational change and imperative for working in the new century, at the 'speed of digital'.



 [1] Liferay. (2018). Defining Digital Concepts: What is Digital Business. Liferay. [Retrieved 2018, Oct 11]; Available from: https://www.liferay.com/en_AU/resources/l/digital-business.

[2]Burkett, M. and P. Meehan. (2017). Make Digital Business Transformation a Practical Reality: A Gartner Trend Insight Report. Gartner. Available from: https://www.gartner.com/doc/3821263?srcId=1-3132930191.

[3] Perrin, M. (2018). The Importance of Setting SMART Goals. HYDRATE. [Retrieved 2018, Oct 11]; Available from: http://www.hydratemarketing.com/blog/the-importance-of-setting-smart-goals.

[4] Business Victoria. (2018). Develop a digital strategy: Stay competitive online. Business Victoria. [Retrieved 2018, Oct 11]; Available from: http://www.business.vic.gov.au/marketing-and-sales/eCommerce-and-digital-technology/setting-up-an-online-presence/digital-strategy-template-and-examples.

[5] Bucki, J. (2018). Top Outsourcing Advantages. The Balance - Small Business. [Retrieved 2018, Oct 11]; Available from https://www.thebalancesmb.com/top-outsourcing-advantages-2533765.

[6] Microsoft Azure. (2018). What is cloud computing? A beginner's guide. Microsoft. [Retrieved 2018, Oct 11]; Available from https://azure.microsoft.com/en-au/overview/what-is-cloud-computing/.


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