What has 2020 taught you about yourself, your business, and your teams?
One significant reflection many businesses will undoubtedly have is how the past 12 months has reaffirmed the importance of leveraging digital platforms. For many companies, the past year has been the kick they did not realise they needed!
Yet, it would be a terminal mistake to now sit back and think you do not need to do more.
The best businesses understand that merely going digital is not enough. You should be looking to use your digital business strategy to help you achieve your broader goals. Being digital is not, and should not, be a goal itself.
Whether 2020 saw your business go truly digital for the first time, or you feel you might have become complacent in how you harness the potential of digital tools, it is always worth reviewing and updating your digital business strategy.
Here are seven tips that will help you.
1. When choosing software, understand the data formats you will be using
It is easy to be seduced by software that promises to perform several functions. However, it is always worth digging deeper into how certain functions take place. Discovering the data formats that specific examples of software use mean you can make a more informed decision about whether it will help your business.
For example, here at Contractbook, we help you to create and store contracts. However, what is vital is how we do that. You do not upload your Word document or PDF file to edit, print and store. You use our platform to harness data-rich formats to create contracts within Contractbook, which you can then use within your business processes.
This then means you are able to work consistently without needing to rely on compatibility or stupid things like conflicted copies of documents.
What is the point of paying for a subscription that gives you a slightly different way of doing what you can already do but with no tangible benefits? Look for software that delivers data-rich formats and thus helps you to have a genuinely dynamic workflow.
2. Keep it simple, stupid!
Keep it simple, stupid, or the KISS principle, is a famous phrase most widely used today in the context of web design.
It should expand to how you go about choosing software and embracing digital platforms, too.
SaaS companies widely use machine learning and artificial intelligence as selling points.
You do not need a machine-learning algorithm to tell you how to solve your problems. You already know where the bottlenecks are in your processes.
Do not invest your cash in attractive sounding platforms just because it seems like they use the best tech.
You want digital tools that solve issues and make your life easier today, not in a few months.
3. If it is easy, automate it!
Confession time. Around 15 years ago, I was a bit of a tragic for “management” books. Although filled with cliché and the potential to turn yourself into David Brent, there was the odd golden nugget of advice.
One of my favourites was the idea of how much time you could save yourself by delegating all the things you did not need to do yourself.
The same is true when it comes to automation.
What are the processes in your business that are:
Identify these, then find the digital solution that will do them for you.
4. Prioritise integrations
A digital tool only makes your life easier if it integrates with all the other tools you also use to make your life easier!
I would rather work with a tech stack that scores 8/10 but where everything integrates than with platforms that are 10/10 individually but do not allow me to combine my data from elsewhere. If you end up having to export data and bring it together in Excel yourself, you waste as much time as you probably would without the digital solution in the first place!
Before you even look at the features a software platform offers, check out what integrations are possible.
5. Choose tech tools that do not require you to have tech skills
Using digital and tech tools is supposed to be seamless and enjoyable. If you do not have developers working for you, what value is there in having to hire them so that you can use a specific tool? You would have to be working with frightening inefficiency right now for such an approach to still save you time and money.
Look for “no coding” digital tools that allow you to take advantage of integrations and use APIs without needing to pay a developer €100 an hour to make it happen.
6. Look for intuitive tech tools
20 years ago, when you bought a video game, you had a long manual that explained all the controls and how to play the game. For me, it was a great way to kill the boredom of the bus journey home.
Today, video games use tutorials and are intuitive. Not only does this make them more enjoyable, it means you can get on with achieving your in-game objectives quicker.
The same is true for software.
Even today, I probably get offered a trial of a platform or come across tools where you are expected to read an in-depth manual to be able to use it. I am not interested in this; I want a tool that I can use intuitively and quickly access my data. What good is an array of functions if you need to read an essay to learn how to use them all?
You also need to think about things like team buy-in.
What are your colleagues going to want to use? A platform that is straightforward and attractive or one that is difficult to get to grips with?
User experience is a hugely underrated aspect of choosing tech. Ensure you make it a focus.
7. Buy tech instead of building it
Unless you plan to white label a platform and sell access to it, it is not easy to get value from building your own tech.
The biggest reason companies go down this route is because they want tech tailored to their needs. Yet, you can do this with the best digital tools available already. Buy tech instead of building tech; you’ll get to enjoy the benefits quicker, save money in the long-run, and can take advantage of the expertise of others.
Adopting a digital strategy for your business
Using digital platforms to help manage and grow your business is a prerequisite of success in the modern world. Yet, using digital platforms alone is not enough to put you on the right track. You must take the time to find platforms that can carry you towards your goals and choose the right ones for your company.
Remember, a digital strategy is a tool to help you reach your desired outcomes and is not an outcome itself.