How necessary is strategy really?

Why is it that everybody talks about the need for a digital strategy and yet so few organisations seem to have a concrete one in place? Does this mean they are nice in theory but unnecessary in practice?

Take a moment to think about your clients. If you are an in house web professional consider the company for whom you work. What kind of strategy (if any) do they have?

For a start, do they have a clear strategy for their use of digital? Do you think they even need one? What about a broader business strategy, or do they just seem to make things up as they go along? If they do have a business strategy, does digital feature in it?

Strategy is a strange thing. Most business leaders agree that having a strategy is an important part of business and yet few turn that lip service into a concrete plan.

Does that mean that having a solid strategy is actually unnecessary? Or is it something that just applies to larger organisations?

What about the web and digital? How important is a strategy really? After all, surely we all know the different components that are required (a site, email marketing, social media etc.)

Do we even need a separate digital strategy? Shouldn’t digital just be apart of the overall business plan?

The reason I am asking these questions is that there seems to be a big gap between the theory and practice. We all seem to accept that in theory having a solid strategy for both our business and digital makes sense, but then fail to follow through. I want to discuss why this might be in the comments and on next week’s podcast.

With that in mind, if you can spare a few minutes to share your thoughts that would be much appreciated. Any thoughts on strategy would be valuable, but I would particularly like to hear your experiences of what happens when strategy is missing or how forming a strategy helped?

“business strategy plan concept idea, speech bubble with doodle icons. ” image courtesy of

  • Greig

    What a load of rubbish, your clearly do not understand higher education. You sound very arrogant.

  • Lois

    Great food for thought. Thanks for this.

    BTW, looks like you have the “core digital team” slide twice. :-)

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  • Thomas Minnefor

    Great review of the digital organizational hurdles in higher-ed. As internal web teams become more conversant in analytics, the dialog with management should improve. Internal web teams would benefit by making design recommendations supported by analytics that reflect an understanding of the marketing context of a site. The vocabulary of analytics can also be a hurdle, but if management can be shown how simple, tangible, design changes can be measured, the use of analytics should gradually become part of management culture, which in turn will help drive organizational change.

  • TheTransformation

    Perhaps Digital is the wrong word?

    What would “Digital Transformation”‘ be called in the year 3017? I prefer the term “Consumer Transformation”.

    the humans, the people, have been transformed over centuries into vulgar consumers, addicted to our particular technological needs (from Ford to Facebook). Nothing new here, simply the “Consumer Transformation” is now accelerating exponentially.

    • You are almost certainly right BUT that is not how senior management think of it. They realise that digital has changed thing. They can wrap their head around that. Customer experience is just not a thing they care as much about. They are too inward looking for that. I find talking about digital transformation is a way of introducing the idea that customer expectations have changed.