Executives – Rise to the Digital Challenge

Image: Johanna Hobbs

Image: Johanna Hobbs

In the digital world change is constant and there seems to be an unending supply of new buzzwords and the latest and greatest strategies and tactics.  For most executives whose primary role is not to scour through digital media trade publications, research, blogs, rss feeds and e-mail newsletters, the flow of new information can be overwhelming.  Often, executives respond to this by either ignoring it or dismissing much of it as fads and clutter distracting them from the primary functions of their business.  Frequently, this is reinforced by the fact that, when it comes to digital trends, they believe that more often than not their “I told you so” assessments have occurred far more often than their “we missed that boat” concessions.

But here is the problem: if an executive is wrong and she missed that enormous opportunity for her business, the “we missed that boat” realization rarely ever occurs.  The reality is that most missed opportunities go unnoticed while the “I told you so’s” almost never do.   This becomes even more valid in a tough economic climate when every dollar of spending is being scrutinized.

Even the most senior executives should make it their challenge to better understand the digital world.  The digital realm is outside the area of expertise for most senior executives in most businesses and they should not be afraid to say, “Explain it to me as if I were a child.”  Likewise, executives should not go into these discussions thinking “I doubt it, prove it to me.”  They need to be thinking “there may be an opportunity, how can I motivate my team to stretch and think creatively to exploit new opportunities.”  We’ve witnessed great ideas coming from the most unlikely sources when leadership kept its mind open to creative thinking.

When executives make time to be educated about digital (and truly listen) and take the time to convey the needs and goals of the business, opportunities can be uncovered through collaboration and creative thinking and great results can be achieved.

Likewise, it’s critical that executives have individuals who they can trust who will educate them and are familiar with digital strategies, tactics, trends, available research, industry benchmarks, competitive analysis, and methods for testing and surveying customer and prospects.  Just as important, however, executives need to feel as though their digital strategists will listen and understand the keys to their business, their goals, their strategies, and their customers and prospects.  If you are an executive or owner who is ultimately responsible for your digital strategy and you do not have this trusted resource, make this a priority or you may be missing significant opportunities to grow the profitability of your business.

Ultimately, you should choose which digital initiatives to pursue based on the merit of the business cases used to support them and evaluate them on the measurable results they produce.  But if you do not commit the time and energy to better understanding digital, then the true cost may be the significant opportunities you don’t even know you have missed.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 at 9:15 pm and is filed under Online Strategy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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