A little while ago I read Eliyahu M. Goldratt’s The Goal, which is an excellent book as fresh now in most concepts as it was 30 years ago when it was first published. The main issue tackled by this book is, obviously, what is The Goal of business?
This is The Goal of business: To make money. Has this changed over the last 30 years? Do all business owners or managers agree on what The Goal is for business? What do you think the goal of your business is?
How the goal of all business owners and managers can be distilled into this simple summation is simple. From all other ambitions the end game is to make money: supply chain efficiency, exceptional customer service, the creation of a product or service that changes lives, increasing shareholder value, putting food on the table, creating a saleable business. If you keep your eye on The Goal, it makes it easier to achieve all the ambitions that you think are your goal, on the way.
One difference in 2014 than when The Goal was first published is the rise of digital technologies. Without going through the substantial sub-themes of The Goal in terms of inventory management, the theory of constraints, process improvement, changes in accounting methodology, I thought it would be useful to look at The Goal through the prism of current business development discourse, in particular, digital.
The Goal is lost without a strategy. However when a Digital Strategy is formed or enforced upon a business, is The Goal kept in mind? Or do the tools and zeitgeist distract rather than compel the business toward The Goal?
I believe the term Digital Strategy has lost sight of The Goal in way, it has become too narrow in what it aims to deliver for a business, it has elevated marketing as the primary concern and investment area for a business, this leaves the rest of the value chain without sufficient and necessary scrutiny when it comes to the use of new technologies for efficiency gains and process improvements that can increase profits and head towards The Goal.
There are critical examples of this locally, in how Federal Movement funds have been spent in “helping” business navigate the Future Economy. Here in the Hunter Region, The Digital Regions funding program was meant to assist business take advantage of high-capacity broadband and gain (or maintain) international competitive advantage. However, the output of the programs has been marketing focussed, looking at topics such as an effective website, social media marketing, eCommerce, things that were an imperative years ago and only incrementally improved by increased broadband capacity. This is a horrible waste of money.
Digital Strategy should apply to all aspects of a business operations. Most importantly it should apply in an integrated way so that all functional areas of a business are connected and responsibilities are known. How are you managing your people, your cash flow and finance systems, your supply chain, your production methods, your operational intelligence. Who is involved in managing these and is the whole of the business bought in?
Digital Strategy is not about the tools, it is about how they are integrated and into the business and connected in order to maximise The Goal. Pushing content out through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on is not a digital strategy. Ensuring that the best possible systems are in place (and competently used) in the areas of financial management, people management, production management, tangible and intangible asset retention and attraction, and customer retention and attraction, as well as the all-important marketing is key. Content Marketing and the use of social media isn’t just about broadcasting a message or developing a relationship with prospective customers, it can also be a recruitment mechanism, a customer service tool, a means of improving the supply chain, and recruiting talented staff or specialists. Some businesses use it well. Beyond this, the exponential development of software and digitally enhanced business [processes should also be included in a digital strategy.
The technological environment and the pace of innovation offers a potential wealth of efficiency gains, market reach and profit increases. While your competitors are focused on marketing, take the time to get some advice on your business systems and think about taking competitive advantage in looking at the whole system to discover where money can be made in savings and efficiency improvements in all areas of your business.
Your Digital Strategy should cover your entire business in order to achieve The Goal. The questions you should be asking yourself are:
- How can we use digital technologies to better connect with customers and markets?
- How can we use digital technologies to reinvent our operations and management systems?
- How can we use digital technologies to reinvent our products and services?
HyperWeb Communications can assist you to answer these questions and develop a comprehensive competitive focused digital strategy to take your towards The Goal. Contact us and let’s get the ball in play.