• Digital-strategy

Digital Strategy

What is a digital strategy?

Find out how your organisation’s digital strategy helps you deliver measurable business results now and into the future.

Taking a strategic approach to the role of digital technology in your organisation is vital to deliver successful outcomes. In this article we explore what a digital strategy actually is – elements typically involved, factors to consider, and how they come together – including:

  • Research

  • Definition of the vision

  • Implementation plan

  • Definition of Jobs To Be Done

  • Solution architecture

  • Service blueprint 

  • Roadmap

  • Key Performance indicators (KPIs)

  • Financials

Focus your digital strategy on customer needs

Your digital strategy must align with your business objectives – particularly in meeting the needs of your customers. A good way to stay targeted on this is the Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) framework. This enables you to think about what customers actually want to achieve, and how technology can enable better ways to do this. It frees your strategy from the way things are done today – to focus on the ideal future state.

Understand your digital status and capabilities

Before you can move forward with planning your digital strategy, you need a clear understanding of your current status. Start by gaining an overview of your digital landscape, strengths and challenges. Ideally, conduct in-depth research into your technology and processes, and interview or survey your leaders, teams, customers and other stakeholders.

Define your digital strategic vision

Your digital vision describes what your business wants to be from a digital perspective. This vision forms the core of your overall digital strategy describing how you will make it happen. You need to define a forward-looking digital vision that provides a detailed picture of your organisation’s desired future state, as enabled by technology. This sets out what challenges you will solve for customers, how they will engage with your products and services – and what your teams, ways of working, and overall business will be like.

Build a digital strategy implementation plan

With a defined vision, you need a practical plan to make it a reality. You should construct a pragmatic and achievable implementation plan for your digital strategy. This outlines the steps your team will take to achieve your shared goals and objectives. It combines process and action, covering all aspects of the initiative – from overall scope and estimated budgets, to the channels, assets, platforms and tools required.

Map out your digital solution architecture

You need to create a clear strategic framework for your digital solutions. Your solution architecture is a detailed description of your digital product or service, combining guidance from a range of business, information and technical viewpoints.

Visualise your digital service blueprint

By making a service blueprint of your digital offering, you can visualise the elements and process flow of a digital service in detail. Creating a service blueprint works in two ways. Firstly it gives you a clear picture of the way things are today, so you can identify issues to address. Secondly it enables you to evolve an improved service design, structure and workflow that your team can agree on – before you begin actual development.

Plot a digital strategy roadmap for your future

Having your strategy in place gives you an agreed plan for how to achieve your digital goals – but you also need consensus on when each stage will be progressed and delivered. Creating a roadmap for your digital strategy – with achievable timelines, clear milestones and a defined path to reach them – helps your team move forward with confidence.

Deliver measurable results from your digital strategy

To understand the success your strategy is delivering, you need measurable metrics of performance and agreed benchmarks to compare against. You should set and measure your digital progress against key performance indicators (KPIs) or objectives and key results (OKRs). It’s also important to gauge return on investment (ROI) and the financial benefit of digital initiatives on your bottom line. With the right data and reporting, you can prove that your strategy creates positive impact.

Drive digital transformation and technology modernisation

A key aspect of many digital strategies for established organisations is how to modernise and improve systems. Your digital strategy should consider how you make the best use of your legacy technology. It should also help you drive digital transformation for systems, processes, ways of working – in focused projects and across the wider business.

Innovate with new digital products and services

Your organisation must move from disconnected manual processes – to utilising digital products and services that transform the experience for customers and workforce. Your strategy should help you drive digital innovation – by creating fit-for-purpose tools that deliver better results.

What are the types of digital strategy?

Find out about the different types of digital strategy your organisation can implement to improve technology usage and drive innovation.

Your digital strategy defines your approach for applying digital technologies to your business models, infrastructure and processes –to enable new advantageous business capabilities.

But there is more than one type of digital strategy. The strategy type you choose will largely be determined by the current status of your technology evolution – and by your main objectives for technological change. Three typical types of digital strategy focus are:

  • Transformation of legacy technology

  • Digitisation of manual processes

  • Innovation of new products or services

The focus of your digital strategy may be on just one of these, but many strategies will encompass all of these to a varying degree.

 What are the types of digital strategy?

Transformation of legacy technology

Legacy technology is the industry term used for a computing hardware or software system that is now seen as outdated – but is still being used. While it still serves its original function, it usually cannot be upgraded or expanded, and may no longer be supported by a vendor. Its older technology standards make it difficult to integrate with more modern systems. The costs of maintaining and operating an outdated legacy system are also usually much higher than for an efficient modern system.

Since technology advances year by year, almost every organisation will find itself dealing with legacy technology over time – and face the challenges that brings. Most businesses understand that their technology will ideally need to be modernised on an ongoing or regular basis. Today, many organisations are transforming from a reliance on on-premise systems in private datacentres – towards the efficiency, agility and scalability of cloud-based systems.

However, many organisations continue to maintain and operate their legacy technology beyond its natural lifespan – sometimes for decades. This is particularly prevalent in the banking and finance industry, where many organisations still use early mainframe computers running early programming languages such as COBOL.

This resistance to replacing legacy technology is typically a result of three main reasons. 

Firstly, the cost of Investing in new technology. While maintaining a legacy system is costly, companies worry that moving to a new system will demand a large up-front investment of money, time and effort.

Secondly, they fear the change – particularly in terms of what might happen if something goes wrong, or they cause a security breach. Moving a business function or a whole organisation to a new platform may be resisted by those who believe “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

And thirdly, they worry about the difficulty of modernising. Migrating may require a deep technical understanding of the legacy technology system – but the people who knew that may be long gone. They also worry about the sheer difficulty and complexity of defining a replacement system that will do everything the legacy system does.

For these reasons, your digital strategy for technology modernisation must address these worries. Your proposals must convince business leaders and stakeholders that the benefits of modernisation far outweigh those of maintaining the legacy status quo. You must also prove that the transformation can be achieved with the minimum of disruption to critical business operations.

When legacy technology cannot yet be replaced, an option for modernisation is to use middleware to communicate and integrate between old and new systems. For example, digital strategy consultancy Elsewhen recently helped a luxury travel brand avoid disruption to its mission-critical core booking systems – using middleware to interface with a modern API and a new native mobile app. See our Secret Escapes case study to learn more.

Digitisation of manual processes

Another frequent goal of a digital strategy is to transform manual business processes to a digitised form. 

Digitising a business process is about more than just ‘going paperless’ or communicating with your team online. It means applying the capabilities of digital technology to every aspect of that process. This enables a wide range of benefits, such as process acceleration, business efficiencies, greater visibility, advanced automation and new data integrations.

You first need to fully understand the process in question – because you can’t transform what is not properly understood. Process mapping is the act of documenting each step in a process, and the flow of information between these steps – and then representing this in a clear visual form.

Then you can identify which steps and information flows have not yet been fully digitised. These may still involve paper documents or manual data entry. Converting the entire process to a digital form enables immediate advantages in terms of your ability to accelerate actions and search for information – but the transformation doesn’t stop there.

Next, with the whole process digitised, you can use automation technology to remove manual tasks wherever possible – with dramatic improvements to speed and efficiency.

The transformation process is not a one-off change. Once in a digital form, the process becomes easier to adjust and refine – enabling an iterative cycle of business improvement. When processes are digital, you can also use cloud computing to improve their cost-efficiency, scalability and agility.

Your digital strategy can do more than digitalising existing ways of working. You can also completely reinvent business processes – or create entirely new ones that were not previously possible.

You should now think in terms of what the objectives of your processes actually are. With this view, you can create new and better digital processes to achieve these goals – not just attempt to recreate existing manual processes in digital form.

An example of a strategy for process digitisation is how Elsewhen helped a leading business finance organisation transform from a traditional analogue company – reliant on manual tasks and paper forms – to a modern digital business. See our Capitalflow case study to learn more.

Innovation of new products or services

Another common driver of digital strategy is the need for business innovation. Organisations are looking to the examples set by tech-enabled businesses like Amazon and Netflix. They understand that to stay competitive in a fast-changing market, they must be able to deliver innovative new digital products and services.

This innovation may be manifested in the nature of the products and services themselves, and also in their delivery method, core value proposition and business model.

For example, Amazon embodied this innovative quality when it reimagined the hosting of its online retailing by setting up its own cloud computing platform. It then launched Amazon Web Services as a B2B tech offering in its own right – one which soon became more profitable than the original retail business. Another Amazon’ innovation, its digital advertising business, is now even more profitable than either of these.

Transforming your existing physical product or service to a digital form is an effective way to be a disruptive industry innovator – rather than a disrupted dinosaur. Netflix successfully achieved this when it transformed from being a “DVD rental by post” company, to a paradigm-shifting subscription video streaming platform. Netflix also rode a larger wave of innovation enabled by fast networks, mobile devices and apps.

To drive innovation, your digital strategy must overcome internal resistance to change in your organisation. You should use data-driven Insights on your business and its market ecosystem to guide your decisions. You need the bravery to experiment with new ideas – but also be prepared to “fail fast”, learn and move ahead to success.

A good example is how Elsewhen helped a leading private equity firm to develop an innovative new digital platform, providing tailored financial services to SME businesses. See our SME finance platform case study to learn more.

What is an example of a digital strategy?

Explore a variety of recent examples of how organisations are moving forward with a digital strategy.

Your digital strategy sets out your organisation’s technology vision, approach and objectives – and how you plan to achieve this in practical terms. Digital strategies can be as diverse as the companies that originate them. Yours will flow from your organisation’s unique strengths, people, expertise and brand personality.

But what is an example of a digital strategy? To give you a clearer idea, here are some recent cases of companies proclaiming their digital strategy – and committing to action that embodies that strategy.

JPMorgan Chase making a $12 billion annual tech investment

Global banking giant JPMorgan Chase has such a large technology footprint that it has to spend billions each year just to ‘keep the lights on’. But its 2022 announcement that it was to raise its annual technology spend by 26% to an astonishing $12 billion surprised industry analysts. And a large amount of this is to be spent on new technology innovations, not just IT operations and maintenance. 

JP Morgan Chase made clear that its digital strategy is to be an industry innovator and disruptor – not to be left behind as a traditional bank that gets disrupted by fintech startups. This has already been demonstrated by the bank’s 2021 acquisition of fintech pioneers Nutmeg and OpenInvest.

“What differentiates JPMorgan Chase is our ability to invest $12 billion in a broad number of technologies simultaneously,” commented Larry Feinsmith, the bank’s Head of Global Tech Strategy. “Our size and scale are simply unparalleled."

The bank is advancing digital transformation across its business. Its tech modernisation includes upgrading legacy infrastructure and architecture, as well as moving up to 50% of the bank’s apps and data to the cloud in the coming year. The firm is investing to improve its digital product operations and development to deliver value more quickly.

Other areas of tech focus for the bank include AI, with the creation of an intelligent software assistant for customers – and machine learning to provide personalised investment research.

Square moving into blockchain

Sometimes a digital strategy is reflected by a change of company name – as shown when the parent corporations of Google and Facebook changed their names to Alphabet and Meta respectively. Both organisations want to be seen as having a broader focus than search or social media alone.

Similarly, in late 2021 payments business Square changed its corporate name to Block – aligned with its digital strategy to grow into new business areas based on blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

While the company’s merchant payments platform retains the Square name, Block also incorporates cryptocurrency business Spiral and Bitcoin exchange tbDEX – as well as music streaming platform Tidal.

The company’s leader, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced: “Block is a new name, but our purpose of economic empowerment remains the same. No matter how we grow or change, we will continue to build tools to help increase access to the economy.”

Shopify offering banking services

Another leader in the digital commerce economy, Shopify helps merchants to create and operate their own online storefront. Online retailing boomed during the pandemic as many physical shops were forced to close, creating an increased demand for Shopify’s solutions.

Shopify’s digital strategy has broadened in recent years to provide a wider range of tools to empower sellers – including financial services such as payment processing and merchant loans. 

Noting that many of its smaller sellers were unable to open a business account with conventional banks, it recently expanded to offering banking services. Its Shopify Balance platform gives merchants an account to manage cash flow, pay bills and track expenses. It also includes a virtual and physical card that sellers can use to access and spend their money.

“Our goal here isn’t to replicate a bank,” said Shopify’s head of financial solutions, Kaz Nejatian. “The goal here is to build financial products for our merchants that are newer and more nimble than what traditional banks offer.”

Zego launching usage-based insurance

As a digital-native insurance business, Zego has a highly evolved digital strategy – and a belief in the power of data. Its customers include professional drivers of private hire vehicles and food delivery scooters – and it is a preferred insurance partner to Uber, Just Eat and Deliveroo. 

As an evolution of its digitally-enabled offering, Zego wanted to use app-based telematics technology to identify and reduce risk for customers through helping them improve their driving behaviour. 

Digital consultancy Elsewhen’s strategic work and insights guided the creation and launch of the new Zego Sense telematics app in late 2020. The app enables customers to automatically share driving data. This enables Zego to assess risk more accurately – and consequently offer insurance products to professional drivers at a fairer price.

Elsewhen’s delivery of a strategic open market telematics product has helped Zego fulfil its digital strategy and become the UK’s first Insurtech ‘unicorn’ – achieving a business valuation in 2021 of over $1 billion (£0.7 billion). Read the full case study to learn more.

Private equity firm creating an SME fintech platform

Elsewhen also recently worked with a leading private equity firm to help it deliver on its digital strategy. The firm works to build a portfolio of high-growth, sustainable businesses that deliver a compelling proposition – supporting them with expertise and capital to drive growth.

As an evolution of its digital strategy, the firm identified the potential for a new digital service, targeted at SME businesses. Elsewhen worked on a proof-of-concept to develop this in terms of a value proposition, service design and technology strategy – creating a viable digital platform to empower SMEs.

The Elsewhen team visualised a digital ‘one-stop-shop’ for SME banking and finance. They also identified, assessed and shortlisted technology partners and financial service providers who could enable the platform's core functionalities. 

From the end-user perspective of SME businesses, the new platform will enable them to see into their financial future more clearly. They will be able to take action to avoid running out of cash, easily changing a payment date or amount – while gaining access to credit, loans and other tailored financial services at the right time. Read the full case study to learn more.

What does a digital strategy consultant actually do?

Find out about some of the key areas where an expert consultant can add value in the development of your organisation’s digital strategy.

A digital strategy consultant can provide valuable support during your digital strategy journey. Let’s look at some of the key areas where they can make a big difference to your success.

Aligning internal stakeholders

A digital strategy consultant will help you create vital alignment on your digital strategy among internal stakeholders across your organisation. This may include C-suite executives, departmental leaders, team managers, and the wider workforce.

Even a small-scale digital project will impact a range of stakeholders – and for an enterprise-wide digital strategy, stakeholder alignment becomes far more complex. A good consultant will help you ensure that your stakeholders become enthusiastic enablers of the strategy, rather than resentful blockers to progress. The data, processes and infrastructure needed for your strategy will reside in multiple domains across the organisation, so gaining stakeholder confidence and commitment is essential. Stakeholders can also contribute specialist strengths from their functional areas, such as project management, financial planning and resourcing.

Achieving this stakeholder alignment may seem like a major effort in the short-term – but cross-organisational collaboration will make the longer-term implementation of your strategy much more achievable and successful.

Your consultant will help stakeholders to understand that your digital strategy is not just an IT initiative. It is a business-critical activity that involves and benefits them – together with every other person and function in the organisation. 

The consultant will understand the importance of involving stakeholders as early as possible in the process to gain their initial buy-in. Stakeholders will value the chance to have a say in the digital strategy discussion, and to input on the organisation’s digital vision and roadmap.

 A consultant can also help you identify key stakeholders that you may not have considered, but whose involvement will be critical to your strategy’s success.

Discussions with stakeholders can be arranged by your strategy consultant in the form of group meetings, interviews, surveys, focus groups and workshops. In most organisations today, this is likely to happen mostly online. But the consultant won’t overlook the power of one-to-one conversations and real-world meetings in building stakeholder trust and engagement.

Your consultant will help you understand what motivates your stakeholders, and what they want from a digital strategy. They can also help you prioritise stakeholders in terms of their influence on the success of the strategy.

The consultant will help you maintain ongoing communication with stakeholders, potentially by involving them in strategic working groups – so they stay aligned and in the loop on strategy.

To support alignment further, your consultant can furnish you with hard data and evidence for the benefits of your digital strategy – overcoming stakeholder objections based on personal opinions or reluctance to change.

Understanding the needs of customers and users

Your organisation’s digital strategy must be based on how it enables you to better meet the needs of your customers. For a B2B organisation this can mean your external business customers. But it can also include your internal customers – employees that use the digital workplace tools and processes you provide.

Understanding the needs of these customers and users can be challenging. A digital strategy consultant can help you build a clear picture of these needs, through quantitative and qualitative research, interviews and surveys of users and customers.

The consultant may begin with a period of immersion in the user or customer environment to observe their needs, challenges and pain points first-hand. They give you valuable outside perspective on the real needs, helping you see with a user-focused and customer-centric lens.

The consultant will collect, collate and analyse data and feedback from these customer engagements, synthesising them into actionable insights that will inform your strategy development.

An expert consultant will apply a proven methodology to identifying customer needs – such as the Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) framework. In this system, customer needs are analysed in terms of ‘jobs’ – the objectives or outcomes that a customer wants to achieve. You can then identify the customer needs associated with each objective, and consider how best to meet those needs. This is in contrast to the traditional business approach of starting with your existing products and services – and trying to make customers want them.

The consultant can help you categorise customers as job executor, benefactor or purchaser to meet their differing needs. They will also help you identify the different types of customer needs – not only core functional needs, but also emotional and financial needs.

This approach enables the consultant to help you identify which needs of your customers are currently unmet – and potentially to find new customers with unmet needs that you are well positioned to serve in future.

Researching the digital ecosystem

Your organisation and its digital strategy do not exist in a vacuum – they must succeed in a competitive landscape of other digitally-enabled businesses and fast-moving technology trends.

A digital strategy consultant can help you understand this dynamic digital ecosystem, in order to frame your strategy accordingly.

To build a robust business case for digital change, they can conduct detailed research into market sizing, customer segments, the competitor landscape, and possible market opportunities.

Your consultant may offer two main types of research to consider – primary and secondary research. 

Primary or field research is where you conduct original research on your specific topic of interest, via focus groups, surveys, interviews and other methods. This can provide specific insights – but can be expensive and time-consuming. You also run the risk of asking the wrong questions.

A better way to start is asking your consultant to conduct secondary or desk research. As the name suggests, this involves gathering and analysing information already available online at a desk. This will come from a range of secondary sources, such as industry reports, survey results, case studies, institutional research, academic papers, and news articles.

While these sources may not be specific to your own digital strategy, your consultant can glean the relevant insights and collate these into helpful reports that highlight technology best practices and new digital business models.

Your strategist can also help you locate and gather data and reports that may already exist in your own organisation. These may provide insights on your current or previous digital business activity that has been overlooked – but can be of new value to your digital strategy.

Evaluating the trade-offs of build vs buy

When it comes to the technology implementation of your digital strategy, you will be faced with the dilemma of whether to buy off-the-shelf solutions – or build your own from scratch.

Your digital strategy consultant can provide expert evaluation and recommendations on whether to build versus buy. 

Choosing an existing product may be quick to implement and come with vendor support. But the licensing fees may be high – and the solution may be a sealed ‘black box’ with little or no scope to customise to your needs. 

By contrast, building your own solution makes it tailored to your specific requirements, and saves cost on ongoing licensing. But your organisation may feel unsure about having the necessary in-house capability to develop and maintain this.

An expert consultant can advise on all aspects of your digital architecture, running a discovery and analysis process focused on helping you make the right technological choices. They can provide confidence on whether to build versus buy for each component or product, consulting with you on the trade-offs and relative risks before execution starts.

For each option, they will assess and apply due diligence on its desirability, feasibility and viability. They will consider potential pivots that might be required in the future, and take into account your time-to-market requirements. 

An experienced consultant will often recommend an approach that is not simply one choice or the other – but a carefully considered combination across each technology aspect, to obtain the best of both models.

What is digital strategy consulting versus management consulting?

Learn more about the differences and synergies between digital strategy consulting and management consulting.

Management consulting has been a familiar aspect of business for many decades. Today it is a major global industry itself, with revenues in the billions.

Digital strategy consulting, by contrast, is a less familiar concept for many business leaders – even though they know of its increasing importance.

So what are the differences between the two, and how do they relate to each other?

Digital strategy consulting in many ways can be seen as a part of the larger space of management consulting. But digital strategy consulting is an area growing in significance so quickly that it is increasingly recognised and valued in its own right.

To understand the relationship between the two, we must first address the question – what actually is management consulting?

Management consulting helps address overarching business issues

Management consulting (sometimes called business consulting) emerged in the United States as far back as the 1890s. Pioneers such as Arthur D. Little and Frederick Winslow Taylor offered their services to help companies implement a methodical reorganisation of their business processes, operations and strategy, in order to improve performance, drive efficiency and increase revenue.

The management consulting industry expanded rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s, as consultants increasingly applied the principles of value-based management (VBM) – focused on building the value of the company.

Management consultants offer companies a range of benefits that they cannot easily find within their own organisation. Consultants are often highly skilled and intelligent professionals with experience in a variety of industries. They are able to provide an objective outside perspective on the company’s situation. Management consulting firms will have accumulated a large body of domain expertise, knowledge and experience from previous engagements and industry research, that they can apply to help their client. Consulting firms are also usually engaged on a temporary basis, so their special capabilities need only be paid for while they address a particular business problem – rather than the company having to build these capabilities internally.

Management consulting provides domain expertise to support organisational change

Management consulting can be seem as taking an overarching approach to addressing a company’s business challenges. They will advise on issues across the company’s different functions, such as operations, finance, HR, IT, sales and marketing. Usually the company will have identified specific problems for the management consultants to advise on, such as how to increase revenues, grow the customer base or reduce costs.

Overall, the management consulting firm provides advice based on its external perspective, broad expertise and problem-solving skills – helping a company achieve organisational change, grow value and achieve its goals.

While management consulting might be thought of as business trouble-shooting to address today’s most pressing problems, consultants can also advise on a company’s longer-term strategy. Strategy consulting is less about ‘fighting fires’ that threaten the company in the short term – and more about identifying and supporting the company’s high-level vision and objectives into the future. This will involve conducting research into the company’s market and customer needs, developing and testing business hypotheses, and making longer-term plans and timelines for organisational change.

Digital strategy consulting flows from business strategy

As well as strategy, many management consultancies have advised companies on technology as part of their overall business. However, in recent decades the role of digital technology has become increasingly central to the strategy of every company – even those who were not previously seen as technology businesses.

This has led to the emergence of a new discipline. Digital strategy consulting focuses on how technology impacts the company and enables it to achieve its objectives in new and better ways. It is a service now offered by established management consulting firms – but also by a growing number of specialist digital strategy consultancies.

Digital strategy consulting is increasingly at the core of business strategy

Companies are becoming increasingly aware that digital technology plays a central role in every aspect of their business – from the digital channels they use to engage with customers, to the digital tools they provide for employees. Thus digital strategy must be at the core of their overall business strategy, if they are to function and compete effectively in a digital era.

For many companies, management consulting helps them begin the journey of approaching their business challenges in a methodical way with the help and outside perspective of a trusted adviser. Companies are increasingly taking the learnings from these engagements to form the guiding inputs and objectives for their digital strategy.

Digital strategy injects technology into the organisation’s operations

Digital strategy consulting firm Elsewhen has worked with many clients who realise wider business objectives through strategic digital change. For example, the consultancy helped a leading private equity firm capitalise on the portfolio of businesses it has invested in. By creating a digital platform to help SME businesses manage their finances and cash flow, the company was able to cross-sell helpful tailored financial services from across its portfolio and build new revenue streams.

Similarly, a leading business lender identified a need to modernise and improve the processes that supported its customer offerings. Working with a digital strategy consulting firm, they were able to implement a plan to transition from paper-based loan application processes to efficient digital automation – shortening the customer journey to conversion by up to 95%.

Taking the next step in your digital strategy

In summary, while management consulting and digital strategy consulting are distinct activities, they share many common goals and methods. Organisations that have experienced the benefits of management consulting will often see engaging a digital strategy consulting firm as the natural next step in applying technology to help them achieve their business objectives.

How can digital strategy services remove internal productivity blockers?

Discover how digital strategy consulting services can help your organisation improve productivity for your teams and processes.

Digital strategy consulting services can enable you to raise productivity in the workplace and beyond. New digital processes, services and collaboration tools help your people be more empowered and engaged. You can build a digital business culture combining people, technology, and best practice. Moving forward, you can increase efficiency, improve performance and enhance the working environment for your employees.

For a more collaborative organisation, you need to equip your people with the right digital processes and tools. You can consolidate data silos, and enable alignment and cooperation across all your teams. Automation of digitised tasks makes processes run faster and more efficiently, with less stress on employees.

Digitising processes for new efficiency

Digital strategy consulting services can help your organisation process digital information in a more efficient and productive way.

Digitising a business process is about more than just ‘going paperless’ or communicating with your team online. It means applying the capabilities of digital technology to every aspect of that process – and how it serves the user or customer.

Your digital strategy consultancy can help you rethink how to best answer your customers’ needs. They put user-focus and customer-centricity at the centre of your strategy, and can then reimagine your processes with technology.

Your consultancy can help you with process mapping – the act of documenting each step in a process, and the flow of information between these steps. Then they can help you identify which steps and information flows have not yet been fully digitised. These may still involve paper documents or manual data entry. Converting the entire process to a digital form enables immediate benefits in terms of your ability to accelerate actions and find the right information.

With the whole process digitised, your consultancy can help you use technology to automate manual tasks wherever possible – with dramatic improvements to speed, efficiency and productivity.

They can help you apply artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to improve the efficiency of business processes. By automatically analysing and learning from available data, ML systems can identify better ways to achieve the process objectives.

Going forward, your consultancy will help you adjust and refine the process – enabling an iterative cycle of business improvement. When processes are digital, you can use cloud technologies to further improve their cost-efficiency, scalability, agility, customer-centricity and productivity.

Scaling your digital operating model

Digital strategy consulting services can help you scale up operations beyond the limits of manual human resources.

As digital change rolls out across your business, you move towards transforming all your organisation’s operations to digital processes. 

Many organisations struggle with growing their digital initiatives beyond individual processes and pilot projects. To deliver the full potential benefits of digitisation, it needs to be scaled across your organisation. 

Digital strategy consultants can help your company move to a transformed operating model by overcoming barriers that block the success of digital programmes. They see beyond just the technology aspects of the company, and look at the wider issues that need to be addressed such as providing support, skills, people, and communication.

For this level of scale-out, your organisation’s leaders must be fully on-board and believe in the benefits of digital. As these changes will affect the fundamental operation and culture of the business, they must be driven from the top of the organisation.

The services of a consultancy can help you build vital consensus on your digital strategy among internal stakeholders across your organisation. This will include C-suite executives, departmental leaders, team managers, and the wider workforce. The consultancy will help you ensure that your stakeholders become enthusiastic enablers of your digital strategy, rather than impeding the scale-out.

Driving digital efficiency at scale will enable your organisation to quickly deliver significant business value:, bring agility and resilience to operations, and improve productivity for all your employees.

Gaining productive insights from your data

Digital strategy consulting services can help you use the data that your organisation collects to provide insights and design new processes.

They can enable your business to support, augment and enhance human decision making with data and analytics.

Information is the vital fuel for your decision-makers. Previously much of this information was often hard to access, locked in paper reports, stored in spreadsheets or siloed in databases. 

Your digital strategy consultancy can help you consolidate your business information as digital data and make it accessible to the decision-makers who need it. 

However, you also need to be able to interpret your data in a meaningful form to support business insights and decisions. To this end, your consultancy will help you use intelligent analytics, data visualisations and interactive dashboards. These give your decision-makers a clearer overview of the situation, helping them make the optimum choice.

Improving your digital product delivery

Digital strategy consulting services can help you deliver products and services in a seamless and scalable way, too many customers at the same time.

By creating your own digital products, services and tools, your organisation can better meet the needs of customers – and help employees be more productive.

However, many organisations struggle to recruit and apply the right digital design and engineering talent to create these products. Expert digital product professionals with the right combination of skills and experience are in huge demand and are very hard to hire. 

Your digital strategy consultancy can help by providing skilled people, knowledge and resources to power product delivery. A good consultancy will have whole teams of such experts. By working with a consultancy, your organisation gains access to the right talent exactly when needed – without the challenges of finding, managing and retaining this rare resource in-house.

A consultancy can help your organisation increase efficiency and productivity across your product delivery workflows and operations, using agile development and design methodologies.

Boosting productivity is critical in order to stay competitive and improve your product development. Although the topic may seem overwhelming with new tools and processes emerging, there are ways to navigate it easily and put it into practice. Productivity is necessary for any company looking to develop their product and have it delivered on time.

Your consultancy can help you identify and overcome the bottlenecks and blockers in your workflows – conducting user interviews and workshops to identify causes of congestion that may be hindering productivity.

Saving time for customers and employees 

Digital strategy consulting services can help you save your customers and employees time.

With digital processes and automation as described above, your people can get their tasks done more quickly and effectively. Time saved can be used to achieve more output and focus on higher-value activities.

With the help of a digital strategy consultancy, you can give users and customers self-service digital tools to help them get straight to the information they need and resolve their problem – without wasting time on hold for a help-desk or customer services agent. Users can gain new insights about how they use your services – or access smart actionable recommendations using AI to help them meet their needs in quicker and easier ways.

By saving users time, you improve customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) – and make your organisation more productive.

Providing real-time visibility of your business processes and teams

Digital strategy consulting services can help you gain a real-time picture of your organisational processes.

Once your processes are digitised, your consultancy can equip you with powerful business management tools that give you new visibility into the status and productivity of your operations. 

Your consultancy can help you bring more effective management to your organisation. Rather than using generic project tracking software, teams can manage their projects with tailored systems in real-time with more detailed status metrics and delivery estimates.

Your people can use interactive visual dashboards to see at a glance how teams are performing against a range of key metrics. You can use traffic-light indicators to clearly see where delays, blockages and bottlenecks are occurring, in order to take quick remedial action.

As all organisations discovered during the pandemic, remote working is now an essential business capability. However, managers can find it hard to maintain a clear overview of how remote teams are performing.

Your organisation needs real-time visibility and effective management of the remote workforce. Your consultancy can help you implement new digital ways to bring clarity, connection and control for managers and teams to ensure productivity and employee wellbeing.

Enabling interconnection with customers, partners and platforms

Digital strategy consulting services can help you enable interfaces to other organisations and platforms to speed up your processes.

Your consultancy can help you create a modern application programming interface (API) to connect and share your data or services with customers and other businesses. 

For example, this could enable your business customer to send you a product order – directly and securely from their business systems into yours, with no manual action required at either end.

Similarly, your organisation can also access data and services from partners, providers and platforms using their APIs. This enables you to integrate all kinds of new data and services into your own processes and products – from SaaS business productivity and financial management platforms, to interactive maps, analytics and visualisations.

With the right digital strategy consultancy to help you, the productivity-raising opportunities are virtually limitless.

How can digital strategy consulting unlock the hidden value of data?

With a digital strategy consultancy, your organisation can use data to derive insights about your business.

A digital strategy consultancy can help your organisation use its data in new ways to create value. Modern digital business processes can bring together multiple data sources – to enable a clear real-time business overview, and drive better strategic decision-making. 

By moving data beyond siloed internal repositories, you can create powerful dashboards and tools to accelerate team workflows and enable wider insights. You can also provide self-service portals that enable customers to answer their needs quickly and easily.

Improving the way you manage data to drive value

Your digital strategy consultancy can help you streamline the process of gathering, storing and describing data. Improving your data management is the first step in being able to maximise its value.

Data management is the process of gathering, organising, and accessing data to improve business efficiency, decision-making and productivity. Having an intelligent data management strategy and effective data management system is vital for any organisation today.

Implementing a data management strategy will greatly increase business effectiveness and support better decision-making. A data management strategy will allow the company to gain competitive advantages and quickly identify and capitalise on trends in the market.

With better data management, you can also help your organisation protect against damage to its business value – by avoiding data security breaches, data privacy problems and regulatory compliance issues.

Overall, when your organisation manages its data effectively, it is better positioned to improve performance and build value from that data.

Asking the right questions of your data

Your digital strategy consultancy can help you choose the right questions to ask in order to gain the most value from data analytics.

 Just having well-managed data is not enough – to bring out its value, you need to interrogate and analyse it correctly. Your data will not provide any useful answers unless you ask the right questions – but what are they?

One good way to formulate your questions is by applying the classic scientific method. Start with an idea or hypothesis about how to address your business problem or challenge. Next, think of a test for this hypothesis that you can apply to your data. Finally, consider how to evaluate the results you get from your data.

By basing your questions on these three aspects, you focus your efforts on delivering actionable insights that can provide real business value – and lead to better outcomes for your organisation and customers.

Embedding and productising data analytics in your organisation

With a digital strategy consultancy you can use data across your organisation. You can create digital products that will help you solve business challenges.

While your organisation may have a wealth of data, your people can become frustrated by their inability to get business intelligence and actionable insights from it. Typically, they will lack easy access to the data and analytics tools they need to understand customer behaviour and improve business outcomes. Data is frequently locked in organisational siloes – when it should be made accessible and usable by the employees who need it.

Your consultancy can help you integrate and embed data and analytics exactly where it’s needed across the business – into existing business workflows. This enables your teams to explore and understand data visually using interactive digital tools, dashboards, charts and reports. 

Your organisation can democratise data, putting analytics in the hands of everyone that needs it in order to make more informed business decisions. 

You can also productise and monetise your data by driving actionable insights from it that customers will value – and may be willing to pay for. This means expanding your vision of analytics from being an internal business tool – to a potential new source of customer value and revenues.

Looking at data as an enabler to solve customer problems

Here’s a real-world example of how one organisation used its existing data to unlock new business value and better serve its customers.

Recently, global satellite communications business Inmarsat worked with digital strategy consultancy Elsewhen on a project to drive new value from its existing data. The company is a leading provider of data connectivity to maritime, aviation and other industries – keeping its customers’ fleets and operations connected, anytime, anywhere around the world. 

Inmarsat wanted to give maritime fleet owners more insights into the performance of their satellite communications. The company strives to keep improving its services to customers – and providing better insights into the connectivity they receive is one way to achieve this.

Previously, if a customer wanted to understand the connectivity performance for its vessels, Inmarsat would have to manually create a report from its various data logs, requiring cost, time and effort.

Providing a platform for self-service data analytics

Inmarsat engaged the digital strategy consultancy to create and deliver a new self-service analytics platform – to help customers understand the performance of the services they use. The consultancy’s design and engineering team worked in synchronisation with Inmarsat’s team. They planned a timeline of development sprints based on agile methodology to achieve the required project milestones efficiently.

The consultancy identified what relevant data existed and where. The team created a new API enabling the platform to access the data it needs for analytics. They also consulted with Inmarsat’s customers to identify which insights would provide the most value.

Alongside this, they designed a range of dashboard visualisations to turn this data into clear insights for customers. They used rapid prototyping to evolve a design solution that would meet customer needs and preferences.

The consultancy delivered a powerful new digital platform that achieved the client’s demanding objectives. Both Inmarsat and its customers were able to see value fast from the deployment of the new solution.

Enabling better business outcomes with data

Creating a modern platform and API for visualising connectivity data is enabling Inmarsat to unlock new value for its customers. The anticipated follow-on benefits for Inmarsat include a reduction in manual work to resolve customer connectivity queries, as well as improved customer satisfaction, loyalty and revenue.

The dashboard helps Inmarsat demonstrate to customers that they are getting a good service and value for money. Fleet owners can see at a glance where each of their vessels has travelled, the connectivity it has experienced, and what airtime was being used for. 

The implementation of this new product has enabled Inmarsat to hit a number of its strategic targets. As well as reducing burden on Inmarsat’s customer support team, the new platform has enabled its sales team to prove Inmarsat’s contract value and ROI to new prospects and existing customers.

How can digital strategy consulting help address legacy technology?

Discover how to migrate your organisation from legacy technology to modern systems with the help of a digital strategy consultancy.

Businesses with outdated technology may need to partner with digital strategy consultants. They can help transform legacy systems, processes and working habits in a focused project or across the entire company.

What is legacy technology?

The term “legacy technology” refers to outdated computing software or hardware that is still in use by your organisation. 

Such systems may now struggle to meet the demands for which they were originally implemented. They will often use old technologies that are no longer supported by the original vendor. The system performance is often low by modern standards, while maintenance becomes more difficult and costly. The reduced availability of technical support and system updates for old technology can create data security issues. 

Increasing incompatibility with newer systems makes integration more difficult. The overall ability of the organisation to compete, meet customer needs and innovate becomes restricted. Adapting to changing circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic becomes near-impossible without modern systems to support remote working and digital customer service.

By moving to new fit-for-purpose technology, you can improve the performance and competitiveness of your organisation. As such, migration from legacy technology is becoming increasingly vital to ensure effective business operations.

However, while you may already recognise the need to migrate your organisation from legacy technology to newer digital systems, you are likely to face many obstacles – including practical, technical, operational, budgetary and cultural issues.

Let’s explore some of the ways a digital strategy consultancy can help you meet and overcome these challenges.

Showing how legacy technology hinders delivery of customer value

Your digital strategy consultancy can help you win support for the migration from legacy technology, by convincing business leaders and stakeholders about the organisation’s current limitations in delivering value to customers.

In the modern fast-changing business environment, just maintaining your existing customer offering is no longer sufficient. The expectations of customers are constantly rising, and the kinds of products and services they demand are enabled by new technology. if your organisation is still relying on legacy systems it will become increasingly difficult to meet these expectations – and deliver real customer value.

Your consultancy can help you understand the changing needs of customers, and the technology required to meet those needs. They can help you build the digital platforms and infrastructure to provide innovative new services – and the capabilities to process growing volumes of customer data for analytic insights and business value.

Highlighting the competitive disadvantages of legacy technology

Your consultancy can help your organisation understand the business risks and competitive disadvantages of being reliant on legacy systems.

Managers and employees often feel dependent on the legacy systems and processes they are familiar with, and will resist change – even if these systems are no longer up to modern standards.

Your consultancy will help you make a positive business case for technology migration. They will help you create awareness at the C-level about technical debt – the damaging financial and business impact of putting off necessary technology modernisation.

Your business case for migration can show stakeholders the predicted return on investment and expected revenue increase. It can also demonstrate the cost of lost productivity from existing legacy systems.

Building confidence for the move beyond legacy technology

A consultancy can help you ensure the business is comfortable with migrating from legacy technology.

Your people are experts in their own area of business – but may understandably be uncertain about the realities of a major tech migration. Working with an external consultancy can be the optimum way to combine the working knowledge from your team with the special skills and experience of an expert migration partner. 

One of the biggest barriers to business change can be a cultural resistance. Lack of understanding or uncertainty with new technology can make it hard to upgrade an old system and be innovative as a company.

Your consultancy can help you highlight the wider business benefits of technology migration. For example, migrating systems to the cloud can enable flexibility and agility required to quickly adapt to changing customer needs – or disruptive circumstances such as a pandemic.

Building a plan for migration from legacy technology

Your consultancy can help you create the plan for how your organisation will migrate from legacy systems.

Forming a clear strategy for the migration process is vital. This should detail exactly what actions will happen and when – and specify who is responsible for each part of the process.

By having a recognised migration project owner, you can ensure that timelines are met, and that all participants have a common point of contact for any questions. This streamlines the process and enables any obstacles to be addressed quickly – or ideally, to predict and avoid the problems altogether.

Technology migration can be complex – but your consultancy can help you give all your people a clear overview of how it will be achieved, and provide a roadmap to the destination.

Streamlining the journey away from legacy technology

Your consultancy can help you guide the technology migration through to completion by supporting your organisation through the process.

They can help you run an ongoing communication program to keep all stakeholders engaged and positive on the project. This will help you manage expectations and mitigate risks by providing clarity on progress achieved and upcoming milestones.

By involving key stakeholders in working groups, testing sessions and feedback panels, you ensure everyone stays on-board – and clearly understands the value added for their own department, the wider business and the customer at each stage.

Transforming beyond legacy technology – a real-world example

Let’s explore a recent example of an organisation using digital strategy consulting to move beyond legacy technology systems and manual business processes.

Financial services firm Capitalflow launched in 2016 as a lender to SME businesses in the Irish market. It is positioned as an alternative to the major Irish banks (such as Bank of Ireland and AIB) and has become Ireland’s fastest-growing alternative lender, serving more than 2000 businesses. The company wanted to ascertain the best approach to achieve its growth ambitions – over the next 3–5 years to be Ireland’s leading SME lending provider. 

However, the company’s underlying technology infrastructure was holding it back from the next phase of growth. Its lending process was based on a complex mix of manual activities, requiring phone calls, emails, Word files, paper documents, PDFs and spreadsheets. Receiving a customer lending application, assessing this, making a decision and transferring capital could take weeks.

Capitalflow wanted to move away from this disjointed state to a new approach – connecting with their customers digitally end-to-end. They needed to go from manual processes to a digital platform providing a better experience for both customers and staff.

Working with an expert partner in technology migration

Capitalflow turned to digital strategy consultancy Elsewhen to help them architect a new streamlined customer journey for lending. The consultancy worked closely with Capitalflow to analyse and determine the key pieces and a new technical architecture that would be needed to achieve its ambitious goals.

The consultancy team mapped out the current technology status, business processes and workflows, and conducted over 40 interviews with staff, customers and partners. The team performed a gap analysis of Capitalflow’s existing technology to understand what was required to support growth plans.

The consultancy designed the future state of the business platform as a service blueprint. To define a new digital infrastructure, they researched the market to shortlist potential technology providers. They then produced an implementation plan to deliver the transition from legacy tech within a 12-month schedule.

The consultancy gave Capitalflow a complete action-oriented strategy to build its new digital platform. Their approach ensured business continuity and minimised disruption during a safe migration of customers onto the new digital platform.

The technology assessment provided due diligence for the shortlisted vendors: These new digital infrastructure components are connected using modern APIs and algorithms – so processes and decisions can happen in real-time, rather than taking days or weeks.

Capitalflow now has the strategy and technology for a scalable digital platform to improve customer experience, gain greater market share, better identify market opportunities – and roll out new offerings quickly to take advantage of these. With expert digital strategy consulting, they made a seamless transition away from legacy technology –while delivering maximum business value.

How can a digital strategy partner clarify on whether to build vs buy?

Explore the business choices around building or buying new technology – and how a digital strategy consultant can help you.

When considering the technology implementation of your digital strategy, you will be faced with the choice of whether to buy off-the-shelf solutions – or build your own from scratch. 

A digital strategy consultant can help you move forward with the right decisions – providing expert evaluation and recommendations on whether to build versus buy. 

Understanding the unique needs of the user

Your technology decisions must be based on how they enable you to better meet the needs of your users and customers. For a B2B organisation his can mean your external business customers. But it can also include your internal customers – employees that use the digital workplace tools and processes you provide.

Understanding the needs of these customers and users can be challenging. A digital strategy consultant can help you with quantitative and qualitative research, interviews and surveys of users and customers.

The consultant may begin with a period of immersion in the user or customer environment to observe their needs, challenges and pain points at first-hand. They give you valuable outside perspective on the real needs, helping you see with a user-focused and customer-centric lens.

The consultant will collect, collate and analyse data and feedback from these user engagements, synthesising them into actionable insights that will inform your technology decisions.

Understanding the position of the business

Your technology choices will also be based on the current and future status of your organisation. You should consider issues such as your legacy technology landscape, in-house tech skills, desired timelines for change, budget constraints and appetite for risk.

To understand, your position, your consultancy will engage closely with your company and your people. They will build consensus and alignment on your digital strategy among internal stakeholders across your organisation. This may include C-suite executives, departmental leaders, team managers, and the wider workforce.

Even a small-scale digital project will impact a range of stakeholders – and for an enterprise-wide digital strategy, stakeholder alignment becomes far more complex. A good consultant will help you ensure that your stakeholders become enthusiastic enablers of the strategy, rather than resentful blockers to your progress. 

The data, processes and infrastructure needed for your strategy will reside in multiple domains across the organisation, so gaining stakeholder confidence and commitment is essential. Stakeholders can also contribute specialist strengths from their functional areas, such as project management, financial planning and resourcing.

Providing a picture of the trade-offs

Your consultancy can help you build a clear picture of the pros and cons of the various technology choices, enabling you to make informed decisions.

Choosing an existing technology product may be quick to implement and come with vendor support. But the licensing fees may be high – and the solution may be a sealed “black box” with little or no scope to customise to your needs. 

By contrast, building your own solution makes it tailored to your specific requirements, and saves cost on ongoing licensing. But your organisation may feel unsure about having the necessary in-house capability to develop and maintain this.

Reviewing and evaluating technology options

An expert consultant can advise on all aspects of your digital architecture, running a discovery and analysis process focused on helping you make the right technological choices. They can provide confidence on whether to build versus buy for each component or product, consulting with you on the trade-offs and relative risks before execution starts.

For each option, they will assess and apply due diligence on its desirability, feasibility and viability. They will consider potential pivots that might be required in the future, and take into account your time-to-market requirements. 

An experienced consultant will often recommend an approach that is not simply one choice or the other – but a carefully considered combination across each technology aspect, to obtain the best of both models.

Designing the solution architecture

Your consultancy can help you construct a pragmatic and achievable implementation plan for your digital solution. This outlines the steps your team will take to achieve your shared goals and objectives. It combines process and action, covering all aspects of the solution – from overall scope and estimated budgets, to the channels, assets, platforms and tools required.

They will help you create a clear strategic framework for your digital solution. Your solution architecture is a detailed description of your digital product or service, combining guidance from a range of business, information and technical viewpoints.

Reviewing and evaluating technology options

By making a service blueprint of your digital offering, you can visualise the elements and process flow of a digital service in detail. Creating a service blueprint works in two ways. Firstly it gives you a clear picture of the way things are today, so you can identify issues to address. Secondly it enables you to evolve an improved service design, structure and workflow that your team can agree on – before you begin actual development.

Transforming a company from traditional to digital business

Let’s consider two real-world examples of how digital strategy consultancy Elsewhen has helped organisations through their decisions of whether to build or buy new technology.

Financial services firm Capitalflow launched in 2016 as a lender to SME businesses in the Irish market. It is positioned as an alternative to the major Irish banks (such as Bank of Ireland and AIB) and has become Ireland’s fastest-growing alternative lender, serving more than 2000 business customers.

The business had launched with an attractive offering to customers – but its underlying technology infrastructure was holding it back from the next phase of growth.

The company’s lending process was based on a complex mix of manual activities, requiring phone calls, emails, Word files, paper documents, PDFs and spreadsheets. Receiving a customer lending application, assessing this, making a decision and transferring capital could take weeks.

Capitalflow wanted to move away from this disjointed state to a new approach – connecting with their customers digitally end-to-end. They needed to go from manual processes to a digital platform providing a better experience for both customers and staff.

Building a digital platform and customer experience to enable growth

Capitalflow appointed the consultancy to conduct a review of its current processes and technology to ascertain the best approach to achieve its growth ambitions.

They needed to architect a new streamlined customer journey for lending. The consultancy worked closely with Capitalflow to create a new technical architecture that would be needed to achieve its ambitious goals.

They mapped out the current business processes and workflows, and conducted over 40 interviews with staff, customers and partners. The team performed a gap analysis of Capitalflow’s existing technology to understand what was required to support growth plans.

They designed the future state of the business platform as a service blueprint. To define a new digital infrastructure, they researched the market to shortlist potential technology providers. They then produced an implementation plan to deliver the digital transformation within a 12-month schedule.

Bringing technology together into a customer-centric platform

The consultancy gave Capitalflow a complete action-oriented strategy to build its new digital platform. The approach ensured business continuity and minimised disruption during a safe migration of customers onto the new platform.

The technology assessment provided due diligence for the shortlisted vendors: These new digital infrastructure components are connected using modern APIs and algorithms – so processes and decisions can happen in real-time, rather than taking days or weeks.

Capitalflow now has the strategy for a scalable digital platform to improve customer experience, gain greater market share, better identify market opportunities – and roll out new offerings quickly to take advantage of these.

Driving new technology for an existing business platform

In a second example, the consultancy worked with Zego – a digital-first commercial motor insurance provider. Its customers include professional drivers of private hire vehicles and food delivery scooters – and it is a preferred insurance partner to Uber, Just Eat and Deliveroo. 

Zego believed that app-based telematics technology presented an opportunity to better understand individual risk and significantly reduce the cost of claims. This would help Zego to price its products and policies more fairly – providing better outcomes for customers.

App-based telematics uses the sensors in a driver’s smartphone to monitor driving behaviour – making it easier to deploy than conventional telematics devices. 

Zego tasked the consultancy to help accelerate its app-based product to market readiness in a timescale of just 10 weeks.

Understanding customer needs and technology challenges

In order to gain a 360-degree view of the project, the consultancy ran user interviews and surveys, held more than 45 hours of workshops, and organised internal hackathons. The team benchmarked telematics market competitors, drew inspiration from multiple industries, mapped out the full customer journey, and designed key app UI screens.

They made sure that all the designed solutions were technically achievable using available technology – and mapped out implementation routes, with a focus on SDKs and APIs.

Delivering a market-ready product through design and technology

The consultancy’s technology work included a design technical feasibility study, analysis of SDKs and APIs, collated data strategy and data architecture analysis.

The strategic work and insights guided the creation and launch of the new Zego Sense telematics app in late 2020. During the first month, customers bought more than 3000 of the new telematics policies, successfully meeting Zego’s launch objectives. The Zego Sense app has earned a user rating of 4.7 out of 5 on the Apple AppStore (as of January 2022).

In summary, a digital strategy consultancy brings you the external perspective, project expertise and collaborative agility to guide your organisation through complex technology decisions – and reap the benefits for your business, employees and customers.

Why is digital strategy consulting so important when bringing a new offering to market?

Explore the challenges of launching a new digital product or service – and how a digital strategy consultancy can help your organisation. 

Your organisation’s digital strategy will manifest itself in the delivery of new digital offerings, products and services. Whether you are bringing these to market for your customers or launching them to your employees, the process will be similarly complex.

An expert digital strategy consultancy is a vital resource for your organisation’s ability to serve customers and employees with great digital products and services. Through their product delivery expertise, they can help you drive improvement of your business processes and customer experiences. They do the work required to go from strategic thinking and planning – to bringing real digital empowerment for your employees and customers.

Digital strategy consulting enables a complete rethink of the products and services you offer to your customers – and the business processes and tools your employees use. Your consultancy can help you bring out the best from your own product teams – and provide experienced personnel to work collaboratively with your people.

Let’s explore some of the issues and challenges your organisation may face when bringing a new digital offering to market – and how a digital strategy consultant can help you.

Bringing everyone together on the same page

Your new digital offering will not get off the ground without the support of your organisation’s key stakeholders. This will include the internal project team, business leadership, board members, subject matter experts, and others. 

One of the main value-adds of your consultancy is their ability to help all the stakeholders in your organisation to realise what they want from the project – and align all their points of view on a single vision, set of goals and plan of execution.

Your consultancy will help you ensure that your stakeholders become enthusiastic enablers of the product strategy, rather than resentful blockers to your progress. The data, processes and infrastructure needed for your product strategy will reside in multiple domains across the organisation, so gaining stakeholder confidence and commitment is essential. Stakeholders can also contribute specialist strengths from their functional areas, such as project management, financial planning and resourcing.

The consultancy will understand the importance of involving stakeholders as early as possible in the process to gain their buy-in. Stakeholders will value the chance to have a say in the product strategy discussion, and to input on the product vision and roadmap.

Understanding what the customer needs

Your organisation’s product strategy must be based on how it enables you to better meet the needs of your customers. For a B2B organisation this can mean your business customers. But it can also include your internal customers – employees that use the digital workplace tools and processes you provide.

Understanding the needs of these customers and users can be challenging. A digital strategy consultancy can help you build a clear picture of these needs, through quantitative and qualitative research, interviews and surveys of users and customers.

The consultancy may begin with a period of immersion in the user or customer environment to observe their needs, challenges and pain points at first-hand. They give you valuable outside perspective on the real needs, helping you see with a user-focused and customer-centric lens.

The consultant will collect, collate and analyse data and feedback from these customer engagements, synthesising them into actionable insights that will inform your product strategy development.

Establishing a vision for your digital offering

Your consultant will help you develop a product vision statement – describing what your organisation wants to achieve with the new digital product in terms of delivering customer value.  This vision forms the core of your overall product strategy defining how you will make it happen. 

You need to define a forward-looking vision that sets out what challenges you will solve for customers, and how they will engage with your product or service. The product vision acts as a top-level guide for your stakeholders, to clarify the direction the product should follow – and sets the shared objectives for the product team.

Example product vision statements of well-known companies include: “To be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online” (Amazon) and “To bring the best user experience to customers through innovative hardware, software, and services” (Apple).

Making a plan that can be implemented

Your consultant can help you plan a go-to-market (GTM) strategy for your digital product. This is a tactical action plan outlining the process needed to create and launch your product to customers – and build success in the market.

This can apply to launching an entirely new product or service, improving and re-launching an existing offering – or adapting your current product for a new market.

The consultant can guide the creation and delivery of an ambitious yet realistic digital product plan. You should construct a pragmatic and achievable implementation plan for your digital product that outlines the steps your team will take to achieve your shared goals and objectives. It combines process and action, covering all aspects of the product initiative – from overall scope and estimated budgets, to the channels, assets, platforms and tools required.

Defining your ‘north star’ metric

Your product’s ‘north star’ metric is a key measure of its success in meeting your product vision – and delivering value for customers. It is the “guiding light” that connects the goal of meeting customer needs – with the generation of business value and revenue essential to your organisation:

Your performance against the north star metric demonstrates your product’s impact and progress to your leadership and stakeholders – and keeps the product team accountable to a specific outcome.

Your north star metric should be based on a deep understanding of how your product delivers value for the customer. A KPI such as “number of users” is not a good north star as it does not show what value your product is delivering.

A good north star reflects your product strategy, measures a key way in which customers find value from your product and acts as a predictive indicator of future business outcomes.

North star metrics commonly relate to transactions (volume or value), attention (time spent or engagement level) – or productivity benefits (for your customer or employee). For example, a digital customer service platform’s north star metric might be “percentage of contacts resolved within 2 hours” – while for an online ordering portal it might be “number of customer orders delivered weekly”. 

Managing the risks of digital product development

Your consultancy can help you manage the risks inherent in developing a digital product. It is essential to prepare for and mitigate these risks to ensure successful product delivery and operations.

For example, significant risk can emerge in software development due to poor quality code. This can result from issues such as a shortage of in-house skills and resources, or the pressure of demanding timelines. This faulty code may only become apparent when the product crashes in production, causing a bad customer experience and loss of revenue. Your consultancy can help you reduce risks by frequent and thorough testing of code – and early resolution of bugs and logical errors.

They can help you set realistic product development timelines that reduce the likelihood of problems – and provide skilled product engineers and designers to overcome any internal skills gaps or resourcing issues. They can also enable agile ways of working that overcome blockers to productivity in product development.

Further risks in product development come from failing to manage expectations – both of stakeholders and users – or allowing “scope creep” to take the project in the wrong direction. As discussed above, your consultancy can address this risk with ongoing stakeholder alignment and consensus – plus an in-depth understanding of customer and user needs.

Launching a new digital offering in practice

Let’s consider a real-world example of how an organisation streamlined delivery of its new offering – with the help of a digital strategy consultancy.

Recently, a leading independent private equity firm identified the potential for a new digital service, targeted at SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). They saw the opportunity for a new finance management platform, giving a clear end-to-end overview of cash flow – and providing access to a full range of tailored financial services.

The firm brought in digital strategy consultancy Elsewhen to work on a proof-of-concept, developing a business case and prototype for a new SME-targeted financial platform – including value proposition, service design and technology strategy.

To build the business case, the consultancy researched market sizing, customer needs, competitor landscape, and possible opportunities. They decided to focus this platform on the financial management needs of larger SMEs with significant turnover, complex cashflow and in-house finance staff.

The consultancy worked closely with the firm, building out a value proposition, service design and user interface concepts – to show that the platform idea had the potential and value to be taken forward to market.

Their design team visualised a prototype solution for a digital ‘one-stop-shop’ for SME banking and finance. They also identified, assessed and shortlisted technology partners and financial service providers who could enable the platform's core functionalities. 

The consultancy designed and developed a viable proposition to bring to market and evolve with ready customers: They delivered a full proof-of-concept, design and product strategy, as well as a project wiki recording the insights captured during the discovery process, competitor research and user testing:

They defined and designed the minimum viable product (MVP), with the initial core user journeys – based on the identified market needs. The team also developed a complete product brand with an Implementation-ready design system.

The firm was extremely satisfied with the proof-of-concept, design and accompanying branding created for the platform. With a solid business case, they are now equipped to tap into this new opportunity. 

From the end-user perspective of SME customers, the new platform enables them to see into their financial future more clearly. They will be able to take action to avoid running out of cash, easily changing a payment date or amount – while gaining access to credit, loans and other tailored financial services at the right time. In this way, the new digital offering successfully delivers value for both the firm and its customers.