Digital and social strategy

Companies use social media to recruit new talent, promote their products or services, broaden customer support channels and boost their executives’ standing as industry thought leaders. The increasingly mobile-powered networks form part of a broader focus on technology that has the potential to make strong companies excellent, particularly when a clear digital strategy is in place.

In Deloitte’s fourth annual research study with MIT Sloan Management Review, based on a survey of more than 4,800 executives and managers, 76 percent of respondents said digital technologies are important to their organization today.


Questions persist about how well private companies are employing digital technologies for business gain. In the MIT SMR and Deloitte study, only 15 percent of respondents from public and private companies in the early stages of digital maturity where the digital agenda truly has transformed the business — say that their company has a clear, coherent digital strategy. More than half of early-stage companies overall cite the absence of a digital strategy as the biggest barrier to digital maturity.

Competing priorities also get in the way of digital and social strategy and execution, particularly as companies move up the maturity curve and wrestle with concerns such as cyber threats. A growing financial services firm may need to assign resources to fend off hacker attacks, but it cannot ignore the fact that many customers, particularly millennials, actually prefer to interact through social channels. Talent is another area where companies that lack comprehensive digital strategies stand to lose to competitors.

Companies should understand how to apply insights from data to their decision-making.

“CEOs have a unique opportunity to drive digital solutions into their overall strategy, helping their businesses unlock value through new platforms, distinct types and uses of data, and innovative customer offers,” says Dan Rowe, a partner at Monitor Deloitte.


Revamping the customer experience through social and digital initiatives should be an important goal for companies. Banking, insurance, and travel represent just a few sectors that rely on a high volume of customer orders and inquiries. These industries can improve customer interactions by making digital communication a core component of those relationships. Passengers who have an unfavorable episode with an airline may not call to complain, but instead post their discontent on their social channels. Likewise, happy clients might share a positive experience with their social networks. This shift in power, in which customers can significantly affect a company’s reputation, means brands have to take digital steps to manage the experience.

Passengers who have an unfavorable episode with an airline may not call to complain, but instead post their discontent on their social channels

Companies can improve the customer experience – while reducing operational costs – by adopting social media as a support channel. According to Duncan Stewart, head of Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Research for Deloitte Canada: "Rogers Communications is allowing customers to use Facebook Messenger for customer support: as of December 2015, over 70,000 customer interactions had occurred. In the same time period, contact volumes have decreased by 13 percent, and Rogers has seen a 65 percent increase in partner channel customer satisfaction metrics since the introduction of Messenger. And since operators can now handle multiple interactions concurrently, costs are being reduced as well.”

Storytelling across social and digital channels is another practice that private companies should continuously hone to boost their competitive advantage. That includes internal efforts, such as the use of stories oriented to employees to promote company initiatives.

Companies should also understand how to apply insights from data to their decision- making. In industries such as health care, for instance, data proficiency is changing the delivery of services, helping physicians and other medical staff secure a more informed view of health risks.

Finally, private companies also have an opportunity to win the war for talent if they can construct a company culture that demonstrates that it values, supports, and nurtures digital proficiency. In the MIT SMR and Deloitte survey, among respondents in age groups ranging from 22 to 60, an average of nearly 80 percent said they want to work for a digitally enabled company or a digitally focused leader.


Matthew Kenny
Partner, Consulting Leader

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