Digital Roadmap: The GPS for digital strategy

The Digital Roadmap is both a strategic document and a canvas that helps to visualise the future. It is a distillation of a company’s vision, objectives and strategy.

In today’s technology-centric consumer world we find technologies embedded in hundreds of items that we take for granted. From the touch-enabled iPad screen to GPS in cars that get us from A to C via B. However this is not the same in the corporate world: Where is the GPS to help navigate the many one-way and dead-end streets of digital strategy?

IE utilises an approach to developing digital strategy that can be described as a roadmap for defining, managing and launching digital touch points. We believe that a well-drafted digital roadmap is like a GPS that aids a business in navigating the digital landscape.

The Digital Roadmap is both a strategic document and a canvas that helps to visualise the future. It is a distillation of a company’s vision, objectives and strategy in relation to how it wants to operate in the digital and online space. The primary objective is to build a digitally focused business platform to coordinate the planning and delivery of digital touch points.

To draft the Digital Roadmap, the business stakeholders should embrace a mindset that unites the pragmatic ‘business as usual’ focus on operation with an innovation model for pushing into the digital space. IE’s Innovation Framework focuses on three digital improvement tracks: Optimise, Innovate and Productise (OIP) to facilitate the conversion of strategy recommendations into thematic and concrete digital product and service executions. Importantly, these must not just make good digital sense, but must also serve the broader goals of the business.

This is achieved because the output from the OIP Innovation Framework feeds directly into the Digital Roadmap tool. Strategies are discussed, ranked and prioritised based on the long-term goals of the organisation and then assigned to one of these tracks:

  • Optimise: Improve an existing web asset.

  • Innovate: Augment/add value to an existing web asset by uniting it with a new feature or new technology.

  • Productise: Uncover a new audience and/or new revenue via a branded product/service proposition.

The Digital Roadmap is the sum of the OIP recommendations and forms the foundation of the company’s digital strategy. IE’s roadmap is a unique business tool because OIP is like a reversible jacket; it can be used in both directions to facilitate change. IE prefers to push the boundaries and subsequently uses OIP in the reverse sequence. We are interested in helping to uncover new audiences and therefore create new revenue streams, which means we tend to think about the digital landscape in the order of Productise, Innovate and Optimise.

Productisation sponsors big-picture thinking that can result in creating a ‘pure play’ digital business or launching a new online product experience. Starting with a Productisation mindset provides a strategist with a view of the potential playing field; it’s like viewing Google Maps and progressively zooming out. By reversing the OIP model, the Roadmap becomes a two to three year vision and therefore can be used to draft the Optimise and Innovate strategies.

Let’s take a detour from the traditional business strategy model and discuss building out a company’s future using IE’s OIP framework. Suppose that a company wants to improve their existing online store to be ready for the coming onslaught of US brands into the Australian online retail space. Instead of purchasing the latest, and greatest, best–practice software that will enable a new online store, the OIP model empowers the company to focus on building a platform that can support a digitally–augmented business model.

This is the paradigm shift: the strategy is not to compete against the incoming US brands with a ‘better’ online store, it is to shift the focus to exploiting the digital touch points in a way that will create a better product experience and offer – a compelling customer story.

Once a story has been constructed, the company can work backwards to include ‘business as usual’ strategies, these may include a range of digital mandatory requirements such as:

  • Optimise the CRM platform to solicit data from Mobile touch points

  • Optimise the e-commerce platform to facilitate product bundling

  • Innovate the existing EDM to support dynamic, automated Landing Page generation to create audience segments on the fly from SEO searches

  • Optimise the website content strategy to address changes in content delivery across multiple platforms

  • Innovate the delivery of services via a cloud-based API platform

Each of these strategies on their own would be compelling enough for a business to stay ahead of the current technology curve. However, used in conjunction with a well-designed Digital Roadmap the business can be ready to launch innovations that will make it difficult for competitors to counter.

The roadmap helps to visualise both the big goals and the smaller details. Each strategy can be linked so that an Optimise strategy provides the platform to develop an Innovate strategy that goes on to underwrite the Productisation goal. By envisioning the future state of the digital landscape, a business can build a compelling digital platform by planning the best approach to optimising and innovating their existing digital portfolio of assets and infrastructure.

A Digital Roadmap is a vision and set of recommendations; ultimately it is a definitive ‘program of work’ to build a digital platform that will support the creation of unique customer experiences. It provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to sense check the rationale of the company’s current and proposed digital strategy.

So where do you start? Think about ‘roadmapping’ your future digital landscape and ask the question: What current product/service could we productise in 2012 to create a new revenue stream?

Now, turn left at the next intersection. You have reached your destination.

Want to learn more about planning your digital roadmap?