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What does digital mean for your organisation?

What does digital mean for your organisation?

In this section we will cover what digital means and how it relates to your organisation. Digital is reshaping the way organisations operate, engage with their communities and customers, and deliver services. Understanding what digital means can help organisations in the sport and physical activity sector work more efficiently; enabling organisations and their workforces to better focus their time on the areas and priorities that can have the most impact against supporting Londoners to be more physically active.

Digital is more than simply ‘technology’; it’s a mindset and approach to leveraging data and technology for efficiency, innovation and improved outcomes.

There can never be a ‘one size fits all’ policy when it comes to a definition of digital, which is often dependant on the strategic aims of the organisation looking to apply it. Because of this, the process of defining digital can sometimes be a barrier to leadership teams, especially if they’re not aligned and working towards a common goal.

Across community sport and physical activity, digital refers to how organisations use data and technology to meet raised consumer expectations and drive innovation, actionable insights and value across:

  1. Capabilities and culture
  2. Processes and systems
  3. Services and experiences; online, in places, and in the community

Although we’ve broken this down into three key areas (and these three areas will always look different for each organisation), the key takeaway is that digital is grounded in an obsession with understanding your customer and having an in-depth knowledge of your customer’s purchasing journey. Only with this insight can your organisation then think about how digital can be used to design and deliver the best possible experience, across everything your organisation does, leading to an increased likelihood of people being physically active.

Broadly speaking, digital should be looked at as less of achieving or delivering a singular thing, but more of a process, or way of doing things. We know this can be difficult to understand so we’ve broken it down into the three main attributes (above) when looking to define digital.

You can read more each of these areas in detail below.

‘Digital refers to how organisations use data and technology to meet raised consumer expectations and drive innovation, actionable insights and value across:

1. Capabilities and culture

Capabilities and culture focus on the human aspect of digital, aiming to ensure individuals within your organisation possess the following to make the most of your digital resources:

  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Mindset
  • Ways of working

Where digital capability is focused on the proficiency of individuals and your organisation in using digital tools and technologies to achieve specific goals, a digital culture goes beyond this. A digital culture embraces and leverages digital technologies to drive innovation, efficiency, and adaptability, referring to the set of values, behaviours, and practices within your organisation. Digital capabilities and culture values continuous learning, collaboration, and agility to make better and faster decisions, and developing more iterative and rapid ways of doing things.

‘Digital refers to how organisations use data and technology to meet raised consumer expectations and drive innovation, actionable insights and value across:

2. Processes and systems’

Where the previous section (capabilities and culture) defines the human elements required to drive digital; processes and systems refers to the digital capacity of your organisation. This looks at the overall ability and resources your organisation possesses to leverage digital technologies effectively, including your organisations infrastructure, technology tools, and its overall digital readiness or maturity.

Your organisation shouldn’t add new technologies and processes for its own sake, it should do so because it supports and benefits those you’re serving; your customers. Technological and organisational processes should allow your organisation to be agile and fast – here are some considerations to keep your organisation focused:

  • System and data architecture
    • A key feature of digital is using technology to connect devices, objects and people, involving teams working together to automate systems and make processes more efficient. Your organisation should be using technology to optimise processes, aiming to make things work better and faster.
  • Use data in context
    • Your organisation should not only aim to leverage data more effectively but make that data more meaningful by turning analytics into tangible results. Often, outdated systems keep data isolated, causing fragmented customer experiences, but now, tools like CRM software help link data across different aspects of the customer journey, creating a more cohesive and consistent picture.
  • Invest in tools for a distributed workforce
    • It’s likely the future of work will continue to be a hybrid of in-person and remote environments meaning your organisation, and its technology, needs to support this direction of travel.

Above all, your organisation should aim to build an eco-system, viewing its tech as a collection of tools to aid achieving business objectives, each serving a specific purpose and working together smoothly.  The best technology tools work seamlessly for both customers and employees, without them having to actively consider them. While technology can simplify tasks, it can become a challenge if it’s not smoothly integrated into existing systems. Therefore, your organisation should aim to make technology invisible for customers on the front-end and ensure that employees using it on the back end find it intuitive, without complexity.

‘Digital refers to how organisations use data and technology to meet raised consumer expectations and drive innovation, actionable insights and value across:

3. Services and experiences; online, in places, and in the community

Going digital means changing the way you might do things and finding new ways to be successful (or new ways to support people to be physically active). Some organisations might create a brand-new type of operating model (or start a new business, for example), while others might look for better ways to be more successful in the space they already operate in.

To deliver engaging services and experiences, and continuously create value for your customers, your organisation must make the most of emerging trends and opportunities. It’s therefore important to keep an eye on what’s happening in the market and understand the opportunities (and threats) market trends present. Typically, across community sport and physical activity, the opportunities that exist when attempting to increase levels of physical activity, are often either online, in places and/or in the community (or a combination).

However, knowing your customer, and delivering simplicity to them, are both key to delivering better services and experiences. To make meaningful changes that matter to customers, your organisation should focus on understanding what customers want and connecting it to overall improvements. This involves looking at both indirect cues, such as how customers use your product and/or services, and direct feedback, like issues they share with customer service or through surveys. The goal is to figure out what needs improvement and how those changes align with broader transformation objectives. You should be asking yourselves:

  • What do people like and want?
  • How do you customers make decisions, and what decisions do they make?
  • What does your customer journey look like?

Secondly, your organisations processes involve people, systems, and information working together behind the scenes; even though it’s complex, the result for customers should be a simple and smooth experience, whether it’s addressing a problem or making things more efficient in the background.

Having this kind of insight means you will have better knowledge of your customers behaviour, enabling you to stay ahead of what people want and need, which can be used to deliver the best services and experiences to attract and retain Londoners in physical activity.

For example, let’s take digital communication methods:

It’s important to engage customers where they are; customers often prefer communicating with brands in a manner that’s convenient, personal, and interactive; similar to how they interact with friends and family. Therefore, your organisation might consider using technologies (such as WhatsApp and Facebook messenger) to offer customers the easy, seamless interactions they desire. To find out more information about how your organisation can make best use of Facebook and WhatsApp, check out the resources we created here on online communities.

9 definitions of digital

To offer some more clarity on what digital means, we’ve pulled together a more detailed guide below, walking through a practical example of how digital can mean different things for an organisation. Although the guide below doesn’t offer a single definition, it does show how digital can mean different things – in this case, it highlights the differences across 9 different ‘definitions of digital’.

Because an analogy might make it easier to understand digital…imagine we’re a grassroots tennis club in Lewisham, South East London, running a range of weekly sessions for children under the age of 16.

At the tennis club…

We realise we aren’t utilising technology and have several problems (such as lengthy admin registration forms and manual attendance trackers) which could be solved by integrating the use of digital into how we operate. We are going to review our systems, find out what our existing members (and local residents) need and develop a strategy. Our digital transformation journey has begun.

Digital Transformation is…

A purposeful and strategic approach to integrate technology and digital ways of working into an organisation. It’s usually driven by recognition of a need to think and work differently. This leads to changes in:

  • People’s mindset, skills and capacity
  • An organisations culture – a digital mindset leads to more experimentation
  • An organisations operations, service delivery and business model

You might be asking yourselves…

  • How do we improve how our organisation works?
  • How do we change how our organisation approaches digital?
  • How do we make better use of digital (for our staff and customers)?
  • How do we redesign this organisation to meet peoples changing needs and expectations and the wider changes in society?

Key Assets…

  • A digital strategy – because it provides a foundation for your digital transformation to take place.

At the tennis club…

We realise we need to understand more about how digital can help the club. So, we decide to learn while doing the review. We ask our staff (coaches and volunteers) for their views and ideas, read about digital leadership and talk to other local sports clubs who seem to be more digitally advanced. We try to model the curious and open approach to digital that we see in some of our peers and staff.

Digital Leadership is…

Rising to challenge and opportunities which arise from digital, in a way that helps and encourages others in the organisation to do the same. Leadership can come from traditional sources and from anyone willing to experiment, learn and share with their team or organisation.

You might be asking yourselves…

  • How do I help my organisation change how it uses digital in its plans and operations?
  • How do I help the people in our organisation do a digital thing or become more digitally confident
  • Where do I start?
  • How can I get people to try new digital things?

 Key Assets…

  • Internal people – because only people can lead change.

At the tennis club…

We are still reliant on coaches manually registering session attendees (by ticking off names on paper at the start of each session). Our review has helped us identify a new way to improve how we do this. We could purchase an off-the-shelf software solution to help our coaches manage their sessions more easily.

Digitising processes is…

Moving from paper-based processes to making use of tech and digital to operate more efficiently.

You might be asking yourselves…

  • How can we become more efficient and more effective as an organisation?

 Key assets…

  • Software – to do the things you currently rely on paper for.

At the tennis club…

We use an excel spreadsheet to keep track of attendance percentages. We manually input the paper registers into excel once a week to log attendance. This is an admin heavy, time consuming job and human error can occur, meaning the attendance percentages aren’t always accurate. We also don’t have a booking system, so the excel spreadsheets aren’t linked with our back-end processes. We know these need upgrading.

We decide to purchase an off-the-shelf booking system and plug-in database management system. This would allow coaches to easily track and record attendances online, as well as management staff to download up to date, accurate attendance reports. Because of our review we feel confident that purchasing the software for our club will be a worthwhile investment as it helps to streamline admin processes, whilst also providing easy access to important data and metrics.

Digital infrastructure is…

The digital hardware and software that make up systems and enable digital processes to happen. Making sure all digital systems being used are up-to-date, connected to one another and well maintained.

You might be asking yourselves…

  • How can we become more efficient and effective as an organisation?
  • How do we help our staff be less frustrated with our processes?
  • Do we need to invest in more digital solutions?

Key Assets…

  • Hardware that works well.

At the tennis club…

We’ve been experimenting with different target digital marketing campaigns on social media. We’ve had some success running targeted adverts, and we think it’s important to continue trying to increase our brand awareness in the local area. We also recently started using TikTok as we believe it will help get our brand name and identity out there, especially amongst the under 23 age group.

Digital engagement is…

Using digital tools to broadcast and listen to people. Often this is defined as communications, branding and marketing, but it also includes listening and using digital to have two-way conversations with people. People could be users, supporters, staff, volunteers, trustees… anyone with a reason to care about your organisation.

You might be asking yourselves…

  • How can we let people know about us and our services?
  • How can we find better ways for people to give us feedback?
  • How can we understand better what people want from us?

 Key Assets…

  • A communications strategy to guide what you do and how you do it.

At the tennis club…

As we continue to grow, we introduce our own branded kit – mainly clothing. As a club, we’re trying to handle less cash, so to make sure people can purchase the clothing, we introduce a new digital payment system. Members can use their smartphones to pay, using a PIN or just by tapping the contactless function. However, it’s not always easy for some members to figure how to use it, and some don’t have smartphones, or contactless cards. Unfortunately, some of our staff don’t have the confidence to help these members. Because of this, we offer old ways for people to pay too, for example, paying with cash, and train our staff in how to help customers who lack digital skills.

Digital skills and inclusion is:

  • Making the benefits of the internet and digital technologies available to everyone. Removing barriers to accessing the internet (e.g. digital poverty). Supporting people to learn skills for using the internet. Building motivation and trust to use the internet well and safely.

You might be asking yourselves…

  • How can we support our users to use the new digital tools or platform we’ve introduced?
  • How can we make sure that people who lack digital skills or confidence can access the same support as everyone else?
  • How can we support our staff to develop their skills, try new tools and stay up to date.

Key assets…

  • An inclusion strategy – to guide what you do and how you do it.

At the tennis club…

We’re now getting more and more popular, which is great. But there are only a certain number of members we can accept, to avoid having large training sessions with too many people. To meet the changing expectations of our members (and the increasing demand), and to ensure potential new members don’t get frustrated, we know we need to do something differently. So, for all the people on our waiting list, we offer them an online tennis service; weekly training sessions they can participate in from their homes via Zoom (and charge them £5/month to attend). Not only is this a way of keeping people on our waiting list engaged in tennis, and the club, but it also means we can help get more residents active, alongside providing our coaching staff with some additional paid work.

Digitising existing services is…

Adding digital features to existing services to make them easier for people to use. This could include integrating existing digital platforms into a service (e.g. video sessions, online bookings) or changing how they are used within a service (e.g. how an organisation’s social media responds to questions). It could also include moving to a 100% digital delivery model (e.g. moving a face-to-face service fully online).

You might be asking yourselves…

  • How can we make this service quicker and easier for people to use?
  • How can we evolve this service to meet people’s changing expectations?
  • How can we offer this service to people who prefer to engage digitally?
  • How can we meet the increased demand for our services?

Key assets…

  • An understanding of design principles – to help you experiment with new ideas.

At the tennis club…

We’ve successfully grown our junior section to maximum capacity – and have a waiting list of 50+ children (the majority of whom are engaged in our discounted online training sessions) – and more recently, parents have begun enquiring about tennis for adults.

After carrying out some market research, we realise the nearest tennis club with adult provision is a 30-minute drive away. Following a handful of enquiries from parents, we decide to circulate a short online survey to understand the demand for adult tennis sessions. Overwhelmingly, there was a huge demand for adults’ tennis.

With our venue fully booked, we knew we were unable to expand the club unless we could find a facility with more capacity. We approached a nearby school and agreed to take on the management of their tennis courts. Not only did this mean we could increase our junior tennis offer to reduce our waiting list, but we also launched an adult tennis programme. Furthermore, we hired the courts out to residents, community organisations and other local groups when we weren’t using the facility ourselves. To do this, we further invested in our online booking capabilities, and put more spend behind our marketing and advertising efforts across various digital channels – all of which turned out to be successful and led to the club generation a good additional revenue stream.

New digital services and innovation is…

Designing a new digital service to meet a need in a way that is new for an organisation. It may replicate a digital service from somewhere else, even from another sector. Or it may combine insights into users’ needs with insights from other delivery models in an innovative way.

You might be asking yourselves…

  • How can we meet people’s changing needs better?
  • How can we meet the increased demand for our services?
  • How can we use insights from our users and their digital behaviour to design something better for them?

Key assets…

  • An understanding of the design process – so you can run a service design project from start to finish.

At the tennis club…

We’ve come a long way on our transformation journey. Today we understand our members and the technology they use. And we understand our own technology too! We use well designed, effective digital tools and processes both front-of-house and behind the scenes. Our staff are observant and always ready to offer insight and suggestions for improving how we use digital. Our leadership are responsible and considerate of both customers’ and staff’s needs in relation to digital technology.

Digital practice is…

About how you do anything digital. It’s a set of practices and behaviours that a whole organisation can adopt. It’s also a mindset a, willingness to learn, that helps people develop their individual digital practice. This is about thinking critically as much as it’s about competencies, particularly as tech continues to evolve and change, and our lives and wider communities change too.

You might be asking yourselves…

  • How can we keep using digital to make our organisation more responsive and resilient to change?
  • How can we become a digitally smarter organisation?
  • Are we being responsible? Are we considering the consequences and cumulative effects of how we use digital, not just the opportunities?

Key assets…

  • An open, curious attitude and a willingness to keep on learning about digital.

Other definitions of digital

  • Co-op – ‘applying the culture, practices, processes & technologies of the Internet-era to respond to people’s raised expectations’
  • Public Digital – ‘applying the culture, processes, business models and technologies of the internet era to respond to people’s raised expectations’

Case study

Check out the case study from Ballers Football Academy on their digital journey.

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