What’s the Role of Strategic Management in Digital Change?

Strategic management plays an important role in change management, especially in the digital age.

In today’s economy, digital disruption is propelling transformation across many industries, from retail to manufacturing.

Digital changes are affecting companies at every level:

  • The evolving competitive landscape pushes companies to innovate strategically
  • Advances in technology require that companies maintain modern infrastructures and digital tools
  • New technology also enables new business models, processes, and practices
  • The cultural landscape is also shifting with the technology, prompting many companies to become more innovative and open to new ideas

As a result of this economic climate, change management has become more important than ever.

Below, we’ll explore how strategic management and change management are intertwined.

First, let’s define the difference between these two types of management.

Strategic Management vs. Change Management: What’s the Difference?

Strategic management takes a top-down perspective on the organization.

It looks at the entire organization in the context of its market, then defines business strategies based on that perspective.

The goals of strategic management include:

  • Improving a company’s market position
  • Aligning company activities with that aim
  • Developing plans, roadmaps, and tactics for achieving its goals
  • Defining underlying strategic principles that guide organizational thinking

Among other things.

Change management is a type of management.

It focuses on managing and guiding organizations through periods of change.

Organizational changes can include:

Regardless of the nature of the change, change management is necessary. 

Change management adds significant value to any change project.

It streamlines the change process, reduces employee resistance, and boosts project results, for starters.

These two disparate disciplines seem distinct on the surface.

However, they are becoming more connected and interdependent in today’s digital environment.

How Strategy Drives Change in the Digital World

Digital transformation is perhaps one of the biggest trends in today’s economy.

Organizations of every size – in every industry – are transforming.

Because technology is disrupting these industries, organizations:

  • Innovate to seize new opportunities
  • Evolve to keep up with changing customer demands
  • Adapt to competitor pressure
  • Adopt new strategies based on shifting market conditions

The list goes on.

In this volatile digital economy, organizational changes are everyday occurrences.

To succeed, transformations must be strategic, managed, and digital.

Let’s look at these types of changes in more detail:

Strategic Change

To survive in the digital marketplace, organizations should continually evaluate their strategic aims. 

After all, the marketplace itself is shifting under our feet – a strategy that stays the same will become irrelevant.

When necessary, strategy should evolve along with the marketplace.

This means:

  • Adopting new digital technology. The right tool can dramatically impact business results in any number of areas. CRM software, for instance, can increase sales efficiency, offer insight into customers, and boost the ROI of sales spend.
  • Changing workplace culture. A workforce that is resistant to change and innovation will be less agile. They will be slower to adapt to new changes, which negatively impacts an organization’s agility and ability to compete. This is why companies should craft a digital workplace culture.
  • Shifting strategic priorities to meet marketplace demand. If an organization clings to an obsolete strategy based on an obsolete picture of the market, its business will gradually, continually decline. 

Regardless of the industry, every organization should be acutely aware of technological developments.

If those developments impact an organization’s competitive landscape, then it may be time to reevaluate organizational strategy.

And changes to strategy will invariably require organizational changes.

Managed Change

Change management is critical when implementing any change initiative, strategic or otherwise.

And because digital transformation is the new norm, change management’s role is becoming more critical.

Here is why:

  • Managed changes produce better results, faster and at a lower cost
  • It also prevents, avoids, and mitigates risk
  • More effective change management produces more bottom-line value for the company

The most advanced change management function – that is, enterprise change management – works at the strategic level.

In other words, change management operates as an integrated part of organizational strategy.

Digital Change

Digital transformation is a term that describes digitally-driven change initiatives.

Earlier, we saw some of the drivers for digital change – such as competitive pressure and marketplace opportunity.

But how do organizations effectively manage digital change?

There are a few approaches that companies should consider:

  • Synchronize digital transformation initiatives with organizational strategy
  • Develop a digital change management strategy
  • Use the right digital tools and platforms
  • Adopt modern change management tactics 

Ultimately, the best way to manage digital change is by recognizing its critical importance. 

Organizations should make digital transformation a strategic priority, then dedicate time, resources, and effort to that strategic imperative.

Conclusion

Today, all changes are digital, so companies can no longer afford to wait for the economy to settle.

In fact, it is probable that the pace of change will only accelerate.

To keep up, organizations must adapt.

They should adapt their strategies, modernize their change management function, and adopt digital business practices.

Those that do will stand a better chance of thriving in the coming years.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.