In a world that is so public and visible, if your business is hard to find or is using out of date technology then it could really be harming your chances of success. You don’t even have to have done anything wrong. In a world of so many choices, if you are not on someone’s shortlist then you won’t get a chance to speak to them
Stats from the UK Business Digital Index Report 2015 showed digitally competent companies are achieving 1/3 more growth than their less competent competitors. This makes sense because they will not only have a higher profile from all the marketing benefits but will also likely have lower costs and a better quality of service. This is the market leader advantage that digital skills and competence provides your business.
A digital culture makes staff more effective
Proficient use of the internet, digital communications and the latest technology will ensure that your business is effective and efficient. It helps your people provide a quality service and most likely lead to them enjoying their work more. If they are doing this then your customers will be happy, loyal and buying regularly. Word of this reputation spreads. Referrals increase, and so do revenues as everyone wants to work with you. As all this happens top industry talent wants to come and work for you and your staff don’t want to leave, meaning your HR costs go down. It is an upward spiral of success.
Digital competence is paramount to making this happen. It is not just about marketing doing some social media or the Operations Manager introducing Yammer to manage projects better. If you do not have a culture that embraces the social web and harnesses the benefits that technology brings then quite simply you are going to get left behind.
Everybody is in sales
The outward expression of your business comes in all shapes and sizes. From business cards, to sign written cars, to customer services. They all say a lot about your business. For some reason though too many companies leave what it says on the internet about their company to chance.
If we just take LinkedIn and Twitter as examples. Every profile, update and conversation that is work related is an opportunity for your business. Some companies try to stop social being used in work and some employees are concerned about mixing personal life with professional life but neither are helpful for your success and should be dealt with.
Your people need to be seen online. Whether promoting your employer brand i.e. your company is a great place to work or adding value to your customers by sharing knowledge, it has to be part of what your business does in its day to day work. It will make you more effective and raise your company’s profile.
The brain drain
If your culture does not encourage this, then anyone in your business that does embrace the latest tools and technology will become frustrated and leave. The unsocial and digitally incompetent people stay and their lack of online activity means that your company looks less appealing to new recruits.
When new customer prospects enquire about your systems and processes – perhaps asking what project management tools you use – if you are not using the expected range of options, then you will be considered out of touch, and again never make the shortlist.
It is even worse when it happens with long standing customers who get to experience the benefits of new technology through a competitor, perhaps working a on different part of the business. If it something that has become core to their processes, this could take you 12 months to catch up. We’ve seen it happen and won new business this way ourselves. It is how companies that are out of touch, quickly go out of business.
Accessible technology reduces costs
It should go without saying that better ways of working should save time and money. There is very little value in technology if it is not of benefit to those that are using it. With so much software now available on demand (SAAS) there are no longer the high barriers to entry that meant only the big companies could afford the best tools. It now becomes a matter of agility and willingness to embrace new ways of working.
If this works, improves your service and reduces your cost base it can quickly provide a competitive advantage that others will not be able to close. Even if they adopt the same or similar tools you will have the early mover advantage that commonly brings exponential growth. You staff will be trained, your customers will be engaged and the knowledge gained from the experience of using the tools cannot be shortcut.
Evolve or die
You cannot hope your staff develop their digital skills by chance. Your website will not suddenly become a highly efficient, always on, never sick member of your sales team. Blog posts will not start flying into your marketing department from all parts of the business. Your project managers will not decide to give up CC’ing ten people at a time in their emails. I could go on…
The cultural shift starts by aligning the business goals and objectives with your digital business strategy. Then identifying the digital champions in your business and using them to lead and motivate the rest of the company.
If you don’t have the required knowledge in your business to embark on such a change then you need to get the right support alongside your Directors and business leaders. Quite simply the only choice you have, is when you are going to start and who you are going to get to help you.
At Live And Social strategy and training are core to the Market Leader Advantage. We take clients on a journey and help them achieve advanced levels of digital competence, which is then supported with content, social media and inbound marketing support. It is understandable that you might not have these skills in your business but it is not ok not to do anything about it.
About the author
JONNIE JENSEN, Social Business Success Engineer at Live and Social
I have worked in digital marketing since 1999. My skills lie in being able to understand what people are trying to achieve and translating that into what other people want to hear. I think on the spot and love to be challenged – that doesn’t mean you have to though! I’ve been to lots of places and I have met some great people. I love cooking, staying fit, being in the mountains or on the beach and well, simply enjoying good times with my family and friends. – See more here.