Posted on March 17, 2024  
by Noel Guilford

History teaches as that we see profound, positive change only when people, processes, skills, and culture are addressed alongside technology. When creating your digital strategy it is vital to keep in mind that these elements are as important as the technology itself whether it be artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) or consumer facing applications like ChatGPT.

So why is now the time to be reviewing your digital strategy?

The digital age has not only reshaped consumer behaviour and expectations, but has also introduced a new paradigm in which agility, innovation and connectivity define business success. In this context, a digital strategy is no longer a luxury but a fundamental necessity for businesses aiming to thrive in an increasingly competitive and technology-driven market.

Because although AI has existed for decades, the availability of scalable computing capacity, a massive proliferation of data and the rapid advancement of ML technologies means that organisations across industries are transforming their businesses at an unprecedented pace.

A digital strategy is a roadmap that guides a business in leveraging technology to achieve its goals. It encompasses a broad spectrum of activities from digital marketing and online sales channels to customer relationship management and data analysis.

oreover, a digital strategy enables businesses to harness the power of data. In an era where data is dubbed the new oil, a digital strategy provides the framework for collecting, analysing, and acting upon the vast amounts of data generated through digital interactions. This data- driven approach empowers businesses to make informed decisions, tailor their offerings and optimise their operations to enhance efficiency and profitability.

And with applications like ChatGPT delivering impressive results and demonstrating the power and sophistication of today’s ML models in ways that are plainly evident, generative AI has captured widespread attention and imagination. We are at a tipping point when most customer experiences and applications will be reinvented with generative AI.

Whether you are already expanding your AI initiatives with generative tools or just getting started with AI and ML, a clear roadmap can help you develop your digital strategy and help ensure successful outcomes. But like any new technology that becomes mainstream, generative AI has a learning curve. Business owners are asking about where generative AI fits or doesn’t, how to use it effectively and – as that we have already seen – about the non-technical considerations.

So where do you start?

Here is my ten step roadmap to creating your digital strategy:

  1. First, be curious. Learn what generative AI is and why it has captured people’s imaginations and what problems it can solve. Understand its transformative potential to give small businesses the tools to innovate, enhance productivity and deliver personalised customer experiences.
  2. Recognise that capturing generative AI’s enormous potential value is going to be harder than you expect. Launching pilots is relatively easy; getting pilots to scale and create meaningful value is much harder because they will require a broad set of changes to the way work actually gets done.
  3. Determine where generative AI copilots can give you a real competitive advantage: the excitement around generative AI and its relative ease of use has led to experimentation across organisations much of which has been closely tied to its ability to help people do their jobs better. Most of these initiatives, however, won’t generate a competitive advantage (even though they may improve productivity and customer satisfaction).
  4. Align AI with your business goals: clearly define what the business aims to achieve with generative AI and ensure your chosen AI initiatives directly support the business’s objectives.
  5. Audit your digital infrastructure: evaluate your current digital infrastructure and tools and processes to identify gaps where generative AI can make an impact. This is likely to be around processing repetitive transactions, bookkeeping and customer engagement.
  6. Implementation roadmap: identify which generative AI applications will deliver the most value based on the business’s priorities and begin implementation starting with low- hanging fruit to demonstrate quick wins and build momentum.
  7. Develop data-readiness standards: integrate unstructured data sources with AI systems to ensure that all data is accessible and analysable. Train AI models on specific business data and set up prompt libraries to increase the relevance and accuracy of AI models in generating insights.
  8. Build testing and quality assurance capabilities: my experience to date has taught me to prioritise testing over new model development. Whilst this slows down the development of new tools it speeds up the model quality.
  9. Compliance considerations: address how the business will ensure data used by AI respects customer privacy and complies with regulations.
  10. Continuous learning: establish clear metrics to evaluate the impact of generative AI initiatives on business performance and recognise the importance of ongoing assessment and adaptation, using AI insights to refine strategies and operations. Develop a mindset of continuous improvement and curiosity, including the importance of staying informed about evolving AI capabilities and advancements in AI and data analytics, to leverage emerging opportunities.

Developing a digital strategy ensures that businesses remain agile, enabling them to adapt to changes in technology and capitalise on new opportunities.

A digital strategy is also crucial for expanding reach and unlocking new markets. Digital channels provide businesses with the opportunity to connect with customers beyond geographical boundaries, offering scalability and growth potential that traditional channels cannot match. Whether it’s through e-commerce, social media or digital marketing, a digital strategy can open doors to a global audience.

In some ways, but this article is premature. So much is changing that we’re likely to have a different understanding of generated AI and its capabilities in a year’s time. The digital landscape is inherently dynamic, with new trends, platforms and technologies emerging at a rapid pace.

It’s about more than just adopting technology, however; it’s about envisioning a future where digital is embedded in every aspect of the business, driving growth and delivering value to customers in a rapidly evolving world. But the core truth of finding value will still apply and how successful businesses are at developing their digital strategy roadmap may largely determine how successful they’ll be in capturing that value.

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Noel Guilford

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