Harnessing the power of digital strategy

“Through digital innovation, organisations can enhance their performance and create business and customer value,” says Vlerick Business School’s Steve Muylle

A general business strategy involves continuously matching your organisation’s resources and capabilities with market opportunities to gain and maintain an advantage over your competitors. Change that to digital strategy and the definition is, in many ways, the same.

All businesses rely on technology at some level, but some harness its power much more effectively than others. Your digital strategy is about how you choose to leverage the opportunities presented by IT – whether that’s automation, data, security or anything else digital – in support of your overall strategic priorities.

Why do you need business digital strategy?

Digital strategy matters now more than ever for businesses. Modern technologies have transformed nearly every sector, presenting companies of all sizes with huge opportunities to innovate, increase productivity and boost efficiency.

At the same time, in many senses, they’ve levelled the corporate playing field. Cloud services, for instance, have gifted smaller firms the computing power once reserved for multinationals, while giving the same multinationals plenty of new security headaches to contend with.

The safe and successful navigation of this digital minefield is essential; those that don’t have effective strategies in place are destined to fall behind.

The importance of digital innovation

Businesses are under constant pressure to find new, more efficient ways of doing things, and – with technology so often providing the biggest gains – digital strategy has a huge part to play in that. Without innovation, businesses stagnate, and those that don’t embrace new solutions as they enter the market risk losing ground on their competitors.

“Through digital innovation, organisations can identify new digital strategy initiatives that enhance their performance and create business and customer value,” said Steve Muylle, professor of digital strategy at Vlerick Business School, who also serves as the academic director of its online MBA.

“Digital innovation can be enacted in the organisation’s internal processes and in its interactions with external stakeholders. Existing products can be digitally enhanced and new digital products launched, together with new business models, such as multi-sided digital platforms.”

Building an understanding

It’s not logical to expect every person who leads a business to be technologically-minded, but an understanding of how to make sound digital decisions and investments is important.

Vlerick claims its online MBA can develop that understanding thanks to the programme’s digital strategy and innovation modules. The former focuses not only on how businesses can use technology, but also teaches decision-making frameworks that can be used to make digital strategy more manageable.

The purpose of innovation is to continuously grow and renew an enterprise with new or better products, more efficient processes, or enhanced business models. Walter Van Dyck, Vlerick Business School

The Innovation component, meanwhile, looks to equip participants with the knowledge and techniques required to develop innovation-based growth and renewal strategies in their own business environments.

“The purpose of innovation is to continuously grow and renew an enterprise with new or better products, more efficient processes, or enhanced business models,” said Walter Van Dyck, professor of technology and innovation management at Vlerick Business School, who also teaches on its online MBA. “The Innovation course aims to answer the question: how do we, in business organisations or as entrepreneurs, get to successful innovation?”

More than just convenience

Being wholly online, the MBA is designed for professionals looking to develop valuable business skills without having to break away from their own careers. Students are encouraged to apply what they learn to their working situations in real-time, and to do the same in reverse.

“There are synergies, so that, when you learn something in the online MBA programme, you can put that knowledge into action immediately on the job,” said Steve Muylle. “You piggyback from both sides, and you can leverage your MBA in your job and leverage your job in the MBA.”