For small businesses and start-ups, in particular, the digital world is a boon: agile, affordable, and easily managed if set up correctly. Surprisingly (or not), there are still a lot of organisations (and people) with a small digital footprint. Depending on your point of view, that could be a good thing. But whether you like it or not, you need to have a digital strategy if you want to survive in this century and beyond. But, learning from the recent Sondos (a swift search on the Internet will throw up background) crisis that hit the region, this needs to be carefully planned and agile in its implementation.

Planning a Strategy
First, this strategy needs to encompass all your operations (internal and external), across various departments. This plan must include assessing risks and its likely repercussions as well as a communications and crisis plan in place for unforeseen consequences including affiliation with brands and influencers. A clear process has to be set in place with clear allocation of responsibilities and tasks.

Look at your processes and have checks and balances in place, with input from all the stakeholders including the more conservative ones. Its fine to be gung-ho about going digital and embracing new technology, but make sure it’s the right one for your business and not just because it’s a fad. Put simply – to do the right things the right way for the right reasons try and avoid accidental (unforeseen) mistakes like putting outdated information on the web site or not doing enough search.

Security and privacy is now very much in the forefront when it comes to data and personal information. While this is crucial to an effective digital strategy to deliver the right level of service to your customers and your ecosystem, make sure that there are safeguards in place to flag potential for errors and mistakes, and prevent these from going further.

If for some reason, things escalate, have a clear communications strategy in place. In this digital age, it doesn’t help to have a “head in the sand” approach. Take control of the message, don’t hide. Be transparent but share solutions so that your ecosystem is aware and your stakeholders know they can trust you to take care of THEIR best interests not just yours.

People and Soft Skills
Whatever your strategy, you need to build your team to manage and execute not just your strategy but to help you create the operational and capability of managing all of its facets. They need to have the skills to keep the customer engaged: personal attitude to attend to the customer without playing the blame game, and the thinking style to look forward and anticipate the possible impact of issues.

Whatever the digital strategy – it needs to be backed up by the right level of human skills to help you manage when mistakes occur.

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