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The importance of digital

The importance of digital

Now you’ve got a better understanding of what digital means for you and your organisation, in this section we’re covering the importance of digital. What are the benefits of digital, and why should it be a priority during 2024?

Why should we implement digital?

In the current landscape, it’s crucial for businesses to remain competitive, responsive to market changes, and sustainable in the long run. Embracing digital is not just a trend but a necessity for success in the current landscape – and it’s no different for community sport and physical activity organisations.

One key reason digital is important is largely based on customer needs and expectations. Customer demands are ever growing, evolving and changing, and digital plays a pivotal role in organisations, such as yours, meeting (and exceeding) these raised expectations. Other reasons might include…

Digital technologies enhance customer interactions and experiences. Across sport and physical activity, organisations can leverage social media, chatbots, and personalised content to better engage with customers, understand their needs, and provide tailored services, promoting brand loyalty.

Digital tools will enable your organisation to collect vast amounts of data, empowering you to make informed, data-driven decisions. Data, analytics and intelligence often enable organisations to better analyse and understand customer behaviour, market trends, and operational efficiency, leading to more strategic and effective decision-making.

Digital platforms enable organisations to reach a bigger audience without the constraints of physical locations. This enables market expansion, allowing organisations to tap into new customers and audiences, and diversify their revenue streams. For example, how many sport and physical activity providers have pivoted their delivery, or added a new delivery model, to cater for online sessions and classes?

Digital technologies can help organisations streamline processes, automate routine tasks, and reduce operational costs. For example, cloud computing, collaborative software, and project management tools enhance productivity, allowing organisations to operate more efficiently.

Digital platforms offer organisations the opportunity to take advantage of flexible and targeted digital marketing solutions. Organisations can quickly adapt marketing strategies based on real-time data and feedback, target specific demographics, and measure the effectiveness of campaigns, optimising their advertising efforts to get the best possible return on investment. Check out our section on social media advertising basics to find out more about how you can use targeted digital marketing to help get Londoners more active.

The rise of e-commerce provides organisations with additional sales channels. For example, online storefronts, digital payment systems, and mobile apps enable companies to reach customers 24/7, driving sales and creating new revenue streams.

Digital technologies foster innovation; an opportunity for organisations to stay ahead of the competition. Adopting emerging technologies (such as AI) can offer organisations the opportunity to create new products, services, and business models, giving them a competitive edge in the market. Running experiments to test new digital ideas will generate learnings that could help your organisation uncover innovative ways to get more people active.

Digital transformation has revolutionised the workplace by enabling remote work and flexible arrangements. It’s important for your organisations workforce to stay well connected, and available technology not only enhances employee satisfaction but also allows businesses to access a global talent pool, fostering diversity.

Digital solutions contribute to environmental sustainability by reducing the need for physical resources. Although there are environmental impact risks associated with technology (and powering tech), things like cloud computing, virtual meetings, and digital documentation minimise paper usage, energy consumption, and carbon footprints.

Considerations when implementing digital

Whilst there are many benefits to, and success stories of, becoming digitalboth to your organisation and customersbefore doing so, there are various considerations your organisation should think through. There are both internal and external challenges your organisation might face, and without proper groundwork, a company risks simply kicking their issues further down the line or not adding value to their customers.

Your organisation must clearly understand and define the problem(s) its customers face. For example, what are the key problems Londoners face preventing them from being physically active? The chosen solution should be able to bring tangible benefits to the customer to solve their problem(s) – be it through improved efficiency, or enhanced experience – and your organisation needs to remain focused on delivering long-term customer value.

This should be simple; before investing in any digital products or solutions, your organisation should understand how it will directly impact key performance indicators. Will the investment enable your organisation to reach more Londoners, engage more Londoners in physical activity, or help to activate a new audience? Once your organisation can identify the benefits, you should proceed with caution and consistently measure and track effectiveness.

As we covered in the previous section (What does digital mean for your organisation?) capabilities and culture are key elements of digital. Your organisation will need to ensure it has buy in (at all levels) to drive a digital culture, along with the right skills and knowledge across its workforce to ensure digital tools and technologies are used effectively. This often means investing in training to ensure your organisations workforce is fully equipped to leverage digital technologies.

Whilst the considerations outlined above are ‘internal’, meaning your organisation has a degree of control over these risks (and mitigating them), there are broader, more societal challenges, to consider. For example, the ‘digital divide’. The Lloyds Bank 2022 Consumer Digital Index highlights that whilst more people are venturing online, a major problem is that one in five people (over 10.2 million) lack the digital skills to do the basics, such as connect to a Wi-Fi network or open a web browser. To find out more about the digital divide, and the work being done by Sport England, and other organisations, to close the gap and reduce its impact on sport and physical activity rates, check out their latest blog and resources here.

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