As companies from industry giants to professional services and educational institutions firms vie to define their digital strategy, we see companies all too frequently addressing digital as a distinct business unit. Investment firms still look at investments in technology through the lens of TMT (telecoms, media and technology), treating it as a discrete vertical in the same way as many professional services companies do, with digital teams working on specific clients and projects rather than across all their units. Others still approach it as a means of communicating through channels that are cheaper than traditional print and television advertising, treating it merely as a channel for communications. In both cases, there are more opportunities missed than seized, to harness the impact that technology can have on the brand and the business.
Digital is part of life, and the boundaries of offline and online have all but disappeared. We interact with people in person and across digital platforms almost interchangeably and the divide between time spent online and offline has been eradicated with the smartphone and tablet. Technology is no longer a vertical but a horizontal layer across businesses.
The issue then is how to harness the power of digital platforms for your business, across all your offerings, rather than developing digital solutions for individual business units. Your brand should be consistent across every business unit, and so should your digital offer, together, they can be used to communicate your core brand throughout your organisation, both with your people internally and your customers externally. The stronger your brand, the more effectively you can use digital platforms, and the better you can harness the power of technology to boost your business. It’s a virtuous cycle once the artificial divisions between digital and non-digital are dissolved.