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Develop a vision on online online success in 4 steps step 1


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This publication regarding vision development is the first part of a range of publications concerning
`online success in 4 steps´. In this publication we explain how we develop a vision on online. It has
been written for the online professional who is searching for a guiding document, which makes it
easier to establish an online strategy afterwards.

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Develop a vision on online online success in 4 steps step 1

  1. 1. ONLINE SUCCESS IN 4 STEPS Step 1 Develop a vision on online April 2012 – Version 1.0 1
  2. 2. Content This publication regarding vision development is the first part of a range of publications concerning `online success in 4 steps´. In this publication we explain how we develop a vision on online. It has been written for the online professional who is searching for a guiding document, which makes it easier to establish an online strategy afterwards. The contents are: 1. Introduction 2. Definition Vision on online 3. Input needed: developments, trends and company policy 4. Composing a vision on online 5. Securing a vision on online 6. Step-by-step plan 7. Tips 1. Introduction At our customers we see a growing need for a vision regarding the online field. In the past, organisations have frequently got stuck, by making decisions regarding internet on ´too low a level´, with a restricted horizon or without founded research. However, positive experiences from the past are no guarantee for the future either. The (online) world is developing too fast for this. In the past organisations have frequently got stuck, by making choices on ‘too low a level’ or without founded research. There are still a number of reasons why the need for a vision on online exists. • The online field is becoming more complex, whereas the foundation for new plans lags behind. A vision on online can partly ensure this foundation. • Moreover new (strategic/e-business) plans are discussed and choices are made at increasingly higher levels in the organisations. From this `higher level´ there’s a strong need for a guiding document on basis of which decisions can be made. • Many organisations struggle with a mixture of online projects and own initiatives, which are difficult to manage and control. A vision ensures an umbrella as a result of which everything becomes more aligned. • Finally, a vision on online offers the possibility to acquire internal and external support. With a vision, plans become more concrete and people become, due to the clarity in direction, more enthusiastic. Before we elaborate on how to establish a vision on online, we will first present our definition of vision. 2
  3. 3. 2. Definition vision on online1 Our definition for a vision on online is: “The long term (global) picture an organisation has, the factors that are relevant for the organisation and the role online plays in it” This definition consists of three elements: 1. Term: for most organisations we look ahead 3 to 5 years. We do this for instance by looking at (worldwide) research reports and extract the relevant socio-cultural, demographical, technological and political developments from these reports. 2. Relevant factors: factors are relevant for an organisation if they can be of influence on current or future customers, organisation or other processes of the organisation. 3. Role on online: this concerns how you want to use online, taking the relevant factors into account. In this publication these elements will be explained further. 3. Input needed Writing a vision is a process where several individuals - not only employees, but for example also stakeholders2 - are involved. From several angles and disciplines, long- 2. Trends 1. Developments term choices have to be made, which can have severe consequences. If the vision states that an organisation wants to digitise 3. Organisation its services entirely, then this has large Figure 1. Needed input for a vision consequences on the organisation, with respect to required capacity, knowledge and expertise and for example processes that have to be adapted to the new situation. Role of online The needed input for writing a vision, and the desired role of online, exists of an analysis of: 1. Developments 2. Trends 3. Company policy and key points of an organisation With online we mean: the total amount of (possible digital means an organisation can use to reach her goals, like a website, campaign page, extranet, intranet, etc. 2 A stakeholder is an individual or organisation that is influenced by (positively or negatively) or is influencing a specific organisation 1 3
  4. 4. 3.1. Developments In this section we look at what is happening in the outer world, and what can be important for an organisation. We start with looking at the surroundings, on global, rural and regional/local level. Shifts in the sector or line of business are also considered. When determining the relevant developments for a specific organisation we make use of the SEPTED-factors (socio-cultural, economical, political, technological, ecological and demographical factors). An overview: FACTORS DEVELOPMENTS WHY RELEVANT? examples Socio-cultural Individualisation of the These can stimulate organisations to communicate society more personally with their target audience, Flexible working conditions independent of time and place. For online, this means Any time, any place for example communication via a mobile page or via extranet. Economical Globalisation Economic circumstances can lead to new market Market shifts opportunities, or the need to (re)focus. Think of striking Recession new markets, or product development when expanding Inflation existing ones. Online channels can support this market development by setting up online marketing campaigns. Online can contribute to product development by using crowdsourcing and co-creation. Political New legislation Cutbacks often stimulate the creativity of Cutback plans organisations. In education, cutbacks can for example Changing balance of power stimulate internationalisation. Online can play an important role, for example by offering ‘remote teaching’. Technological Technological developments ensure for example that Use of apps, augmented new possibilities are available for an organisation to reality, video reach a target group more effectively, meet their Cloud computing Ecological Mobile information needs better or to provide services. Sustainability of products Ecological developments are for example important for and services organisations who are working at a more durable Environmental awareness distribution process, such as orders, reception confirmations and status updates by means of Internet 4
  5. 5. instead of by postal services. Demografical Age spread Insight in demographic developments helps an Family composition organisation, with the aid of Internet, to anticipate the Parentage various customer life phase needs. Regional shifting % urban population 3.2. Trends Beside developments we also look at trends that are important for a certain organisation in a specific sector. In this context we define trends as more short period changes, regarding: • Target audience: What is changing in the (online) behaviour and media usage? • Sector: What are new cooperation programmes? Is there supply chain integration? • Online: What are (new) possibilities for users at this moment? 3.2.1. Target audience trends A visitor of a website has different expectations these days There is a wide offer of relevant than a few years ago. He expects he can arrange the site to research that can be used to make his own taste, get answers in one click, that at each site target audience trends transparent. level there is interaction (e.g. via social media) with the Think of reports from: CBS (Dutch organisation or that he can look into what others find of a Bureau of Statistics), Forrester, AC certain product or service. A site must also be easily Nielsen and Morgan Stanley. accessible by means of a mobile device and must provide apps that make life easier for him. We use this data to map general trends at the target audience, and When mapping target audience trends, we look at the supplement these with knowledge following points: and experience from the sector and Expectations: are there movements, commonly or from the information the specific for this target audience, which have changed organisation already has the expectations with respect to the organisation? For • concerning the target audience. example: Where necessary, new research is started, for which an organisation The possibility to have insight in everything can hire specialised market (regarding yourself and the organisation: o The presence of organisations on Twitter or other social media. o research agencies. transparency). o • To be informed about relevant information (personalisation). Usage: does the usage of online change? The emergence of apps can, for instance, result in the usage of apps to perform tasks and only consulting the website of an organisation for background information. 5
  6. 6. Behaviour: also regarding behaviour developments can be mentioned which are important for an • organisation. Think of the need to upload user-generated content, view opinions of others (peer influence) and to respond to them. 3.2.2. Sector trends For an organisation is it important to watch what happens in its own sector: • Are emerging power shifts to be expected, for example from producer to consumer? • What is the position of the intermediate channel? • To what extent do supply chain partners join their strengths? • How does the competition position itself and what is their online behaviour? • Do specific legislation or government directives exist which apply to this sector? To get good insight, we use the model new competitors displayed in figure 2 (derived from the Porter model), where we look at the five forces that play a role in the sector: the entry of new competitors, the threat of Suppliers substitutes, the negotiation position of Market Consumers suppliers and consumers, and the Figure 2. Model to rivalry between the current players. Substitutes analyse trends in a sector. Sector trends within a travel organisation In the travel sector we can analyse the recent developments using the mentioned model: • Think of the increasing power of the consumer. He makes travel decisions after consulting ratings of others customers (Zoover) or books the journey directly after comparing it with other providers/travels (Expedia). • Internet has enabled consumers to make hotel or campsite reservations without intervention of a travel agency. With this, the suppliers of the accommodation have also become competitors. • As a result of supply chain integration, more and more leisure market suppliers have emerged. Think of restaurants and wellness centres, which also offer complete holiday arrangements online that can be booked directly. As a consequence of these sector developments, travel consultants must continuously focus on their role in the online field. Perhaps, in the near future, the holiday bookings will take place on sites of supply chain partners. The own website will be a place that only presents information regarding countries, regions and where service information regarding the holiday can be retrieved (such as status updates, downloads, tips, alerts and frequently asked questions) 6
  7. 7. 3.2.3. Online trends At last we look at online trends, to see what online today, or in the near future, has to offer. These trends give important input to describe the possible role of online for an organisation in the future. A few examples: • The super-fast rise of mobile Internet, the use of video What is hot today, can be outdated tomorrow. For this reason constant orientation is needed. (YouTube), the availability of WiFi, and the success of social media ensure that it does not only revolve around a good website. An organisation has to take the rapidly developing media landscape into account. • More and more communication takes place outside the domain and therefore outside the control of the organisation itself. Discussions take place on, for example, digital platforms with a specific topic and on social media. Within its own organisation, colleagues find each other by means of online communities, videoconferencing and webinars. • Online workplaces are available to make flexible working possible. On these platforms documents, discussions and innovations are shared. • Via online you can orientate on whatever topic anywhere in the world. Several sites make it possible to compare products and services. This means that the customer is even better informed, and becomes more powerful in the decision making. The above overview is only a small set of the total factors that are important for the organisation. The world is in constant move, and what is hot today can be outdated tomorrow. For this reason, constant orientation on these developments and trends is needed. 3.3. Organisation After the evaluation of developments and trends in the outside world, the organisation itself is taken into consideration. Online success is not achieved by only looking at the outside world. Online is an integral part of the total organisation strategy and of the policy fields. Mission, vision, and strategic planning show which role the organisation wants to play and in which ways it can be achieved. All internally available policy papers such as ICT, HR, sales, marketing and communication policies are of importance. They are used to answer the following questions: 1. How does the organisation envision the world in 3 to 5 years? Where does it want to be at that moment? What are the points of attention? For example: more internationalisation, to be the most innovative player in the market or the best employer. 2. What are the core values of an organisation? For example: open, honest, reliable or socially involved. 7
  8. 8. Why is this input so important for a vision on online? Internet as a company instrument has become an integrated component of the organisation. If we know what direction the organisation is heading and what the important areas to focus on are, the organisation can adapt the online channels to this to achieve company goals quicker. Example 1 Example 2 If the focus is to be the best employer of If the priority is to be the most innovative The Netherlands, then online can player in the market, for example via contribute by: product development to stay market Profiling the organisation, for example leader, then online can contribute by: on the social media where the target • • audience is. • the composition of the products, for Starting a dialogue with the concerning target audience, to retrieve Letting the target audience decide on example by generating ideas. • Having employees work together on potential employees’ wishes and • product innovations by the use of co- requirements. operation and co-creation tools. Showing that this organisation is the best employer by facilitating online instruments/applications that make, for example, working from home available. Core values are also an important input when determining the role of online. For example transparency to the customer. This means that the online channel also has to facilitate this by: • Giving insight in the status of an application, purchase or service. • Sharing opinions and points of view, which is possible by means of a website or social media. • Returning results as feedback, for example regarding the status of the organisation itself, by online annual reports. 4. Composing a vision on online Writing the vision on online is a challenge in itself. A vision is short and powerful, and formulates exactly enough starting points with which an organisation can make a translation to the online field. Sometimes it is possible to write a vision on an A4, sometimes more pages are needed. The secret is to determine a future vision based on collected input, relevant developments and trends, after which you can determine the contribution of online. The vision is the umbrella for all subsequent steps, such as the development of the online strategy, which is the subject of the second part of this publication series. 8
  9. 9. To get a picture of vision, a number of examples are given as inspiration: Example (part of) vision for HEALTHCARE Within healthcare an important development is that patients are more and more ‘in control', because they can, for example, compare hospitals with each other and are prepared to travel for better care. Therefore, reputation management is essential for a healthcare institution. The role of online for the healthcare institution is to persuade the patient of its qualities, for example: show what its priority fields are, publish positions in ranking, or communicate about cooperations with other authoritative healthcare organisations. ng met andere toonaangevende zorgorganisaties te communiceren. Example (part of) vision for EDUCATION An important development in education is the cutbacks and the need to efficiently open up the information to the many target audiences with their (personal) information needs. The role of online is to support the target audience in its processes, in an efficient manner. For example: the development of a portal, which can be adapted by the target audience. Or by supporting professors and students in their important tasks with mobile applications. Example (part of) vision for INDUSTRY For large industrial organisations, it is important to be innovative in order to lead the market. Especially in strongly competitive markets, the target audience selects products based on the degree a product fulfils their needs. The role of online for an organisation with innovation as point of attention can be to involve the target audience in its product development. For example: facilitating co-operation platforms (co-creation) where customers can express their ideas, discuss improvements or test new products. Example (part from) vision for RETAIL With retail the challenge is to find a balance between online sale and offline sale. The shift that takes place also has consequences on how customers (remain) committed, since personal contact is missing. The role of online is to promote customer commitment. This is possible by structurally retain a customer by offering his own page or combining specific services that are related to the bought product. Social emotional binding is also possible: by anticipating what is important in the lives of customer. The organisation has to be more involved outside its own online domain. For instance, where customers can be found, like on social media. 9
  10. 10. 5. Securing a vision on online An important step during the creation of a vision is to get commitment within the organisation. Regularly give presentations or introduce feedback moments with key individuals and stakeholders from within and outside the organisation who have to become involved in the vision development. If the future vision of online in the organisation is clear to them, then the next step to strategy will also be logical. Our experience learns that by presenting the vision on online to a group of stakeholders at the correct level, an enthusiasm arises that radiates through the entire organisation. Faith arises because an umbrella has been developed that offers grip and which takes the internal and external factors into account. Stakeholders all of a sudden see beautiful opportunities for their own policy fields Moreover the vision has been established at such a (high) level that various policy fields can hook on to it as well. As a result, stakeholders all of a sudden see beautiful opportunities or thrilling challenges appearing for their own policy fields. 6. Step by step For those who want to get started with the composition of a vision on online, we summarise the step by step plan below. Step 1 Determine your playing field Determine who and which factors are of influence, or could be of influence in your future vision. Are these only consumer related, or also political or environmental related? Step 2 Determine your term Determine for which term you are going to draft your vision. Due to the speed of development, a rule of thumb is to develop a vision for a maximum of 3 years Step 3 Determine what is relevant Analyse and document the expectations within the playing field (based on the SEPTED input, trends/developments and the organisational vision and strategy), which are of influence on the organisation or environment. Use argumentation to show why they are of importance. In other words: give answers concerning the relevant trends and developments from the point of view of the organisation Step 4 Weigh and choose the relevant factors Determine, based on the relevant factors in step 3, which are of most importance. For example: which will have most influence on the organisation, how can we deal with them, or which fit best in the overall organisation visions? 10
  11. 11. Step 5 Describe the role of online in a vision Describe for the most relevant factors how online can contribute. The art of writing a vision is that it is described as short and powerful as possible, frequently in the form of a Powerpoint slide or short Word document. Step 6 Present and secure the vision Ensure that the correct presentation is directed to the appropriate people, who appeal to the issues that are relevant to them. Make them a member of the process. 7. Tips Finally a few tips that can be of importance for everyone who is composing a vision on online: • Don’t think too much in online developments. Look more widely, and use the SEPTED-method. • Work from global, to nationwide, to regional/local level when determining relevant developments. This prevents you from overlooking certain angles. • Make a clear distinction between developments and trends: developments are long term, trends change more rapidly. • When analysing, don’t only take ’positive’ cases into account. The ‘negative’ cases can be of interest for the online vision as well. • Write the vision as short as possible. A short vision is easier to remember and also easier to be used. • Repeat the composition of an online vision (at a minimum within the period which has been set for the vision). The world keeps changing, and you have to take the changes into account in your organisation. With this first publication we hope we have helped the online professional with determining a vision on online. This vision is the starting point for the next step: online strategy development. Author: Jacqueline Westerbeek / Online Strategist E-mail: © Present Media | April 2012 11