With the advent of digitization, there are many new requirements for companies. One of them is the development of a suitable digital strategy. But what does it mean? How important is the focus on such a digital strategy really? And above all: what about companies that place little value on it?

What is a digital strategy?

However, before I go deeper into the topic and importance of a digital strategy for the individual areas of a company in this article, I would like to first discuss the definition of the term.

Many often only associate the term “digital strategy” with pure goals in the field of online marketing. This only describes a small part of this measure. Because the term is more about the development of a company towards a holistic use of digital processes. In other words: the digital strategy describes the entire transformation of a company towards digitization. That is why the synonym is often used here Digital transformation is used.

The advantage of implementing a digital strategy is that it enables an effective and trouble-free interaction between the data flow and the maintenance of the information entered into the internal data system. This enables companies to gain a competitive advantage in competition with competitors. Because in this way they can offer their customers and partners a smooth and less time-consuming service. At the same time, this is usually significantly more cost-effective for the company.

What about the application of a digital strategy in German companies?

Although the importance and necessity of implementation can be derived from the definition of the digital strategy, many companies still refrain from investing in this measure. Because even if, as the graphic below shows, 40 percent of all German companies have implemented a digital strategy centrally and at least a little more than 30 percent have implemented at least some of them in individual areas of the company, they still give it more than a quarter of all companies in Germany not to apply this.

Source: https://www.bitkom.org/sites/default/files/2019-04/bitkom_charts_hub_-_digitalisierung_der_wirtschaft_10_04_2019_final.pdf

But what happens in companies that do without a digital strategy altogether?

In the end, the problem is usually that it doesn’t work without a digital strategy. Instead of investing in this measure, however, many companies develop a kind of “patchwork quilt” in which they line up rows of ideas haphazardly, making it almost impossible to pursue a uniform strategy (see picture).

In the end, this usually results in a poor digital process, as the following graphic shows. Partial areas are then digitized, while others continue to be managed according to old structures and patterns. For employees, but above all for customers, this results in a veritable mix of digitized and non-digitized sub-processes. These can usually neither be traced nor used to save time and money.

But how can a good digital strategy be implemented?

Many companies usually rely on well-known and tried-and-tested methods at the beginning of the implementation of a digital strategy. A digital transformation is usually carried out either by the Cost or benefit leadership derived.

The latter mostly focuses on the quality of a company’s product or service. In this context, the digital strategy at the Utility leadership in particular, the expansion of the offer, a customer-friendly service as well as the targeted addressing of one’s own target group. Building on this, all associated sub-processes are digitized step by step, so that ultimately a holistic digital strategy results.

The Cost leadership however, as the name suggests, its focus is not only on high returns but also on saving costs. Companies digitize individual sub-areas and processes in such a way that unnecessary interfaces are reduced and, above all, existing ones are automated.


Even if more than 25 percent of all German companies seem to think the opposite, a digital strategy should now be part of the pool of measures in every business. After all, a good digital strategy not only promises more agility, but also better competitiveness in the market.

Companies should ideally combine online and offline marketing in such a way that all channels and processes merge into one another. In this way you can always be in an active dialogue with customers, partners and service providers. In the long term, this not only increases sales and profits, but also stabilizes the bond with existing ones or is a decisive factor in attracting new customers.

Tip: Read my book: SMEs in digital change at Springer Gabler or book me for a talk .


Image source: pixabay.com


I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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