By David O’Connor, Director – RSM Technology & Management Consulting
Alignment to the business strategy
The Digital Strategy must be fully aligned to the business strategy, as increasingly it is the key mechanism for execution. Digital technologies are creating new ways to report results, engage with members and conduct business. The business strategy needs to recognise and embrace these opportunities and set a clear roadmap for building the right culture and skills to be able to trial and deploy Digital technologies. The objectives of the Digital Strategy need to be clearly identified, measured and communicated to the business.
Board member ownership
A key success factor is the commitment and ownership of the Digital Strategy by the Board – and preferably the Chief Executive - not only in the development of the Digital Strategy but in ensuring it retains a strategic focus. The leadership team need to ensure the message of digital transformation is clearly communicated throughout the business, with research showing that employees wish to be associated with a digitally enabled organisation and that it is a cause of dis-satisfaction when not in place.
Development and delivery by a multi-disciplined team
Historically development of an IT strategy was the domain of the CTO or CIO. Studies have shown that a Digital Strategy is best developed and embedded by a multi-disciplinary team including Marketing, Compliance, Finance and IT, while retaining overall sponsorship by the CEO. Evidence also suggests that user ‘buy in’ to new Digital solutions is significantly better in organisations that involve the users in these multi-disciplinary digital teams.
Build in 'quick wins'
Gone are the days when organisations could wait 12-18 months for delivery of the business benefits from the IT strategy. Quick wins delivering business benefits from new technologies helps galvanise the business behind the Digital Strategy.
In the rapidly changing financial services environment, a Digital Strategy cannot remain static and must be subject to continuous review by the Executive team. Feedback from technology pilots or proofs of concepts should be continually fed back into the Digital Strategy to refine and develop it. New digital technologies are developing at such a pace that traditional IT strategy timeframes are no longer viable.
A key element of the Digital Strategy should be the recruitment and retention of the right skills to develop and deliver the strategy. Due to the rapid change in technology, the focus on technology recruitment has shifted from repeated experience of delivering a specific technology, to creativity, the ability to learn and above all to be able to conceptualise how digital technologies can be used to change for the better the business model. A coherent Digital Strategy is likely to require a range of skills encompassing information management, technical architecture, project management, change management and cyber security.
Learning from experience
Not all digital projects will be completely successful, but for those that aren’t the learning needs to be formally brought back into the Digital programme. The key word here is ‘formally’ as it will not happen by chance. Learning needs to be actively captured and shared from technology trials and pilots, to create a culture of continuous learning.
For more information please contact David.O'Connor@rsmuk.com
Written for Associate Knowledge: a guest blog by BSA Associate, RSM.