Strategy maximizes your return on effort by considering all the factors needed to deliver optimal value to your target audience. Every (digital) enterprise MUST use strategy to differentiate and compete in today’s marketplace.
The problem is that strategy is often misinterpreted as action, a plan, creative thinking or even an orchestrated approach to a project. However, while those things may be an outcome, strategy is the combined outcome of opportunity identification, marketplace analysis, core competencies, business model and future-thinking.
Great strategy looks effortless because the positive results seem so natural (or obvious). However, done right, it is a massive effort that can literally – and sometimes dramatically – shift the course of a business.
Strategy Case Study
Consider Dell® as one example of using strategy to successfully position against IBM®, Compaq® and HP® to save the company. In the late 90s, these companies used a ‘Make to Stock’ approach which made products in large quantities, stored them in warehouses and then sold them as customer orders were placed. This ‘economy of scale’ built the same computer over and over again to keep prices down.
However, customers did not want ‘stock’ computers; instead, they wanted computers that met their personal needs. Dell decided to use an ‘Assemble to Order’ approach so customers could choose their individual computer specifications to have it assembled accordingly. (Think of how your Chipotle® burrito is built as you move through the order and assembly process).
Within 7 days, customers had the exact computer they wanted. And Dell had zero inventory. This allowed for new technology upgrades easily and no losses due to obsolescence as well as happier customers. IBM was pushed out of the personal computer market and Compaq and HP merged to stay competitive. Dell became a top player in the personal computer market at that time.
Looking back, knowing what we know now, this seems like an obvious move for personal computer manufacturers to make; since Dell implemented it, Dell changed the course of not only their company but the industry as well.
Strategy is a critical process, both in terms of necessity and in terms of mental approach, that can involve multiple stakeholders. In the absence of it, business becomes stagnant and cannot compete. In the absence of perspective, strategy fails.
Strategy adds value for your customers in meeting their needs by stretching past known limits, comfort zones and ‘the way it’s always been done’.
The market is dynamic – new customer needs, marketing venues and conversations are always changing. Within that evolving environment are opportunities for new solutions and sales. The key is in seeing those opportunities and, ideally, seeing them in advance to advantageously position for emerging trends and customer needs.
An informed strategy requires that you have intimate knowledge of your customers and the market within which they are seeking solutions. This includes…
While your business can likely provide many solutions, deciding which are your core competencies provides focus for capability expansion, solution development and competitive advantage.
Your business model is the engine that drives revenue. If your business has the wrong business model (as the computer industry did), you are missing opportunities and revenues. Strategy is what ‘tunes up’ your (business model) engine and helps you compete effectively in an open marketplace.
So why does one company do better than another when facing the same marketplace, selling the same type of solution? The simple answer is because of strategy.
Strategy projects how an enterprise needs to orient toward their customers and position in relation to its’ competitors (particularly over the long-term). It balances short-term outcomes and long-range differentiating capabilities and growth opportunities. And it clarifies key priorities for specific initiatives.
Even more, it future-proofs the enterprise by thinking about potential scenarios and outcomes before they happen. Just a 20% investment in strategy can save 80% of effort (according to the Pareto Principle). Avoid errors, wasted time and misused / unused resources through future-thinking.
The One Thing
You may not see the full results of strategy for months because it is a long-tail play. In the end, only one thing defines great enterprise strategy – success in achieving the desired target(s) over time.
If you would like a personal review of your current digital strategy, please let us know – we’d love to help! (And no worries – it’s our gift to you because too many brands are missing customers and revenues. Our mission is to change that!)