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Ensuring your strategy is digitally grounded in purpose

INSIGHT | June 16th 2021

Are you focused on what you need to do, in the here and now, to realise your digital ambitions for the future? All good technology should be firmly grounded in purpose

Article by Nathan Baranowski

Digital should meet a need that will enable your organisation, your stakeholders, or your communities - it should never be tech for tech’s sake.

Our latest free e-Book - Enabling your digital ambition: stepping back to look forward clearly – will help you to learn how you can deliver a customer-focused, purpose-led digital strategy through achieving digital maturity.


Understanding digital maturity models


Digital maturity is an approach that allows you to define your digital aspirations in specific areas (called ‘domains’) across your organisation and benchmark your current level of maturity. This process enables you to then plan how to start transitioning towards your desired goals; it’s a framework to aid the build out of your digital roadmap.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to digital maturity. The advantage of building a bespoke model and standards for your organisation is that it can, and should, evolve with you throughout your digital journey. Technology will continue to change - as will your business ambitions - and should be seen as a living and vital part of your business.

The first step on the road to digital maturity is being open about your relationship with digital - how it’s used, why it’s used, and whether it’s fit for your purpose. A digital maturity approach means that you continuously and methodically assess your current digital position, before embarking on any programme of work so you can make informed decisions in moving forward on your digital journey. To effectively use a digital maturity model, your organisation needs to pay close attention to six high level areas - ‘domains’ - which should always be considered when describing your digital capabilities and future ambitions.


5 steps to building your digital maturity strategy.


Digital maturity doesn’t happen overnight: it’s a journey, and one that needs to be embarked on with a clear understanding of the direction in which you’re heading. Digital maturity is all about understanding what matters most, defining your ambition and being clear about your capabilities, both as an organisation and at departmental level.


Step 1: Understanding your current digital landscape.


A digital audit seeks to make sense of where you are, highlighting key areas of concern as well as what’s working well. Across each domain consider:
• Who is involved – internally and externally?
• What they need to do – online and offline – and how do they do it?
• What issues / concerns / risks are there in the way things work?
• What gaps are there in the approach against the business objectives?


Step 2: Define your digital vision and guiding principles.


Whilst all organisations will have differing goals and ambitions, there are a number of target goals that most organisations would hope to achieve to remain vital in their sector and deliver their purpose, including:

• Increased customer engagement
• Increased income
• Increased impact (to your customers and/or the wider society)
• Increased productivity

All of these can be elevated through the intentional use of the right technology or digital channel. Using your organisational strategy as a starting point, identify where you would need to be in your digital maturity model to make your current ambitions a reality.

Once you have a digital ambition defined, it is helpful to develop it into a digital vision statement that frames the future for your customers and staff: with your digital vision in place, guiding principles will help define how to navigate your way to realising it, ensuring that strategic decision-making supports your digital ambition and intent: do you want to be a ‘Digital First’ or ‘People First’ organisation?


Step 3: Exploring the wider digital landscape


Once you have clarity over your strategic goals and customers’ expectations, you need to explore how these fit within the digital landscape you're operating in. What are the available opportunities, what are some of the barriers you need to be aware of and what are things on the horizon that might impact your organisation or your customers?

Careful consideration should be given to emerging tech trends such as online payments and cashless technologies, Blockchain and AI: cashless technologies, for example, are enabling sales, fundraising and donations to be made seamlessly online, enabling organisations - especially those in the third sector - to extend their reach and impact by meeting the needs of younger, mobile-driven consumers. AI, meanwhile, has served as a crucial lifeline for many during the pandemic era, enhancing customers’ online experiences in the absence of human contact.


Step 4: Set your strategic themes and ambition.


As with any strategy, it’s important to tell the story. It is no different with a digital strategy: build out your strategy into a set of strategic themes that resonate with your stakeholders, internally and externally, and help explain how digital will make a positive difference.

The strategic themes should flow from your maturity subdomains and particularly consider those with the biggest gap. Strategic themes you may wish to consider are:
• Digital customer experience
• Operational efficiency and effectiveness
• Digital culture, leadership, and skills
• Data and Information Security and Governance
• Service and product innovation


Step 5: Delivering your digital ambitions


With a clear set of digital strategic themes in place, a digital roadmap can be built out that balances pace, budget, and change appetite.

A roadmap doesn’t need to be a detailed plan but it should set out - as you might in a business plan - the key activities and periods that can be easily digested by all stakeholders. We would recommend any roadmap is reviewed quarterly and fully reviewed each year, given how quickly tech evolves. Therefore, the detail and activities planned within the next period are key, while the longer-term direction simply needs a view of when to expect items to commence.


Moving towards digital maturity


Technology is the glue that holds your digital strategy together - and will dictate the level of success in delivery. A digitally mature organisation, operating with purpose, will always look to digital with curious, challenging eyes, asking: how can digital create a better experience or greater impact?

To achieve digital maturity, you must first understand your relationship with - and use of - digital to support your people, processes, and organisation in meeting the expectations of stakeholders and customers in a digital age. Gaining clarity in these three areas is the crucial first stage in readying your organisation for the future - and developing a mature relationship with digital.

If you’re ready to embark on the next stage of your digital journey but need a little help and support before taking the crucial first steps, be sure to take a look at our latest e-Book today.



About the author

Nathan Baranowski

Digital Strategy & Solutions Architect

Chief Wondermaker and Head of Big Thinking, Tech Innovation & Solution Design at the wonderlab of all things digital, Nathan is the lead data scientist and "Super Thinker" in the team - and makes a great cup of coffee (or two).

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