First, decide what you want from your company. Then tailor your digital solutions accordingly

As companies' needs change and different digital solutions evolve, responsible managers regularly experience moments when they have to decide what to do next. They see that they will have to make changes, but their ways of thinking about them often take different routes. Why is it important not to limit yourself to changing just the technology?

Have you come to the conclusion in your company that you have an outdated CRM, CMS or need a new website? Whatever part of your company's digital landscape is in need of change, it's a good idea to think about the different contexts before you tender for an agency to design a specific digital solution.

“The digital landscape contains several key technologies and undergoes a major change or enhancement approximately every two years. For a business that uses a large number of interrelated digital solutions, changes can be all the more difficult. In any case, it is always an important – and often expensive – project. That’s why it’s an important thing to remember that this is above all a unique opportunity to move the company forward,” says Actum’s Managing Partner Ratibor Líbal.

When a company decides to make a change regarding the technology used, it is usually because of one of the following situations:

  • some parts of the digital stack have become obsolete 
  • a new digital technology has emerged
  • a new need has arisen in the company that the existing technologies are not able to solve.  

The technological aspects of the change should be framed by a more fundamental business idea or vision

Any of the above-mentioned situations gives you an opportunity to think about what you want your business to look like and how you would like it to be perceived by customers. “It's not uncommon for businesses to have only vague vision for their digital future. They often lack digital leaders capable of setting an appropriate strategy for the years ahead. In some cases, on the contrary, companies have a vision of their digital future at the beginning, but in the end everything slips into a technology update with no connection to changes in processes and business results,” explains Jan Havel, Actum’s Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer.

The reason behind diminishing ambitions can be any of these:

  • lack of accountability for business results (although it is often your digital landscape that brings you profit)
  • poor change management (everyone needs to be absolutely clear about why the change is being made and what it will bring, which is not possible without good preparation)
  • lack of ability or will to implement new things 
  • desire to take the easiest route (it is much easier to change technology than mindset). 

What to do about it? How to make the ambition for the development of the company the imaginary compass that guides all the other steps necessary to introduce change? What to watch out for, so that you don't end up finding yourself dealing solely with the technological aspects and solving just a current problem instead of actually moving your business forward?

Identify correctly the problems you want to solve

Once you've decided to embark on a challenging technology upgrade, replacement or addition, make sure you fully exploit the potential associated with such an action. For example, it makes no sense to change your CMS and expect better marketing performance without taking care to change your content. After all, content is more important than technology and design when it comes to reach. In this case, a certain amount of responsibility often lies with digital solution providers: they too often find it easier to change the technology without having to analyse the problem more thoroughly and design a comprehensive solution. They simply meet the demand: if the demand is for a new website, they build a new website for the client. The fact that, in reality, the client wants more people to visit their website (rather than a new website as such) is not seen as the core of the problem.

In order to avoid addressing a supposed problem instead of your real needs, it is crucial to think about the real motivation for the changes you are about to make. Ask the people in your company how comfortable they are with your existing digital tools, and most importantly, ask your customers and think about how beneficial and user-friendly your services are for them. Don't settle for vague answers. If you don't identify the problem correctly, the effect won't be what you imagined. In other words, you make some adjustments and enjoy partial improvements, but you may still be a little disappointed because you expected much more.

It is worth consulting with experts in the field before you decide to launch a tender

It's clear that if technology and digital strategy aren't your core skills, it can be very difficult to determine to what extent you should change your digital stack and how to go about it. There are plenty of options, the pace of change in the digital world is fast, every now and then there is a new feature to existing technologies, an update or some old technology is decommissioned. But you don’t have to tackle this on your own. Some digital solutions providers can effectively help you with this, asking crucial questions when discussing your digital solutions with you to help you sort through your needs and expectations. However, it is important to talk about such things before the assignment (for the tender) is created. This is because later you get exactly what it says.

The digital solutions provider you work with can help you assess all four elements of the project diamond (technology, people knowledge, work processes and content). This will save you a lot of time and greatly increase the likelihood that changes to your digital stack will bear the desired fruit. Ideally, there should be positive changes on both the business and customer sides.

“Change should never be limited to a change of technology. If it turns out that only a change of technology is needed, it’s OK, but we shouldn’t omit a broader discussion in the first place,” Ratibor Líbal points out. He adds that although a digital agency cannot replace a creative agency when it comes, for example, to the choice of topics and the like, it is nevertheless able to advise how to speed up work with content, create information architecture, and measure reach and engagement.

Digital solutions providers can look at your digital stack from many angles and suggest solutions that you wouldn't have thought of on your own. They can recommend a more cost-effective upgrade of your digital tool than you intended, yet it will work well for years to come. Or, conversely, suggest a more significant upgrade that will give you access to an ocean of new possibilities. They can also help you calculate the financial benefits that the chosen solution should bring you over a certain period of time. And last but not least, they can deal with other digital technology providers your company works with.

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