How fast are businesses running in the digital fitness race?

Ask anyone in the ‘80s what it took to run a great company and you’d largely get the same answers. A great product to sell, a great team of people working together, a strong supply chain and great customer service. Now though, these elements are almost considered hygiene factors. Instead what really dictates customer loyalty, satisfaction and engagement is digital experiences.

Digital experiences are at the core of making customers happy, and it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do well considering the sheer number of touchpoints involved in a typical customer interaction or sale.

The journeys between those touchpoints are also anything but straightforward. They start, stop, weave and vanish — using a phone one moment, desktop another, social media, in-store visits, word of mouth, and connected devices of all kinds.

>See also: Digital business trends 2017

While providing a quality digital experience is by no means easy, the fact is that a poor digital experience (even a non-optimised mobile site) at just a single touchpoint, could be enough to make a customer turn away from your brand. Competition is too rife and consumers too savvy for them to stick around for something they don’t like.

So what is required to deliver those compelling digital experiences? One of the most important factors in today’s digital age is speed. Speed is at the heart of everything now — speed to bring products to market, speed to build new digital properties, speed to deliver the right content to the customer at the right place at the right time, speed to jump on the latest digital developments — the quicker you can do things, the stronger you’ll be digitally.

However, speed is a difficult capability to achieve, especially for global companies who have to manage digital experiences in multiple geographies, cultures and languages. Indeed, Acquia’s research has shown that digital leaders are frustrated by their company’s lack of speed and the spiralling complexity of delivering and governing multiple digital experiences globally. 53% believe their organisation should be able to design, build and publish new sites more quickly — creating a ‘design thinking’ environment, where they can fail often and fail fast without fear, something which can’t happen without speed.

Of course, while speed is important, on its own, without control, it’s dangerous. A car that can do 0–60 in two seconds but can’t steer round a corner properly does not lend itself well to the world of driving. However, a Porsche, for example, aims for braking times to be 50% of its 0–60 acceleration time — speed with control.

The same thing goes for digital. Speed without control is often ineffective, but together they’re a deadly combination. Together, speed and control enables organisations to capitalise fully on new digital opportunities, whether adopting the next big technology that’s capturing people’s imagination or a social media opportunity in the moment.

>See also: How to manage big data in the age of digital

Therefore, never before has digital ‘fitness’ been so important. To run 100 metres properly, you need to be in the right running gear and be prepared for the race — but far too many companies are turning up to the starting line with a pot belly, jeans and a packet of crisps. These are not the kind of companies that can take advantage of the digital innovation. Since lasting digital fitness depends on preparation, here is some practical advice:

Enforce a digital fitness regime

All good fitness fanatics have a plan — and it’s something digital businesses can learn from. The good news is that most organisations (83%, according to Acquia’s Beyond the Hype research) believe they have a solid digital strategy in place. But as we all know, having a strategy in place is just the start — you need to be able to deliver on that strategy, and just like real fitness, digital fitness requires regular work and nurturing.

Get everyone on board

It’s hard to become a true digital business if you don’t have the support of everyone in your company — especially from the board of directors. In the report, however, more than a third of respondents feel they do not have enough support from their boards when it comes to executing digital strategies.

>See also: How to navigate the digital jobs sector in 2017

Moreover, more than half say they lack support from other departments within the business. These are the companies that will struggle to get any kind of effective digital initiative off the ground.

Improve IT infrastructure

Legacy technology slows you down, in part simply because much of it is old and in part because much of it was built for different kinds of challenges back in the day. Many legacy systems in fact were built to solve a challenge that doesn’t even exist anymore, namely the webmaster bottleneck.

Now however, the challenges have moved beyond people to technology, which has become more and more convoluted as new tech comes in and companies grow in size and expand to new territories.

>See also: Digital in the enterprise

But to unlock innovation, organisations need simplify their technology setup. One way to do that is to implement a single content management system (CMS) that underpins everything digital. A CMS that can help you deliver sites quickly and easily, and help you manage a brand across different territories (while giving a level of autonomy to those regions) is crucial for success.

By getting each of these factors right, organisations can implement an internal culture of speed, and ultimately improve their own digital fitness. Those who don’t adopt a speed-first mentality will simply fall behind the competition.


Sourced by James Murray, EMEA general manager, Acquia


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...