Taming the elephant in the room: Why digital governance is job one for today’s C-suite

Simon Lande
By Simon Lande
September 16, 2015

In the 25 years or so since it first emerged, the World Wide Web remains a chaotic Wild West, almost to the point of being dysfunctional. While opportunities abound, competition grows fiercer for market share every second. For any digital business operation today, there's a lot at stake to get it right online. Are you maximizing your investment? Are you providing the best online experience for your audiences and converting them accordingly? Just how are you mitigating risk for whatever you're publishing online? And by the way, who has the authority to make decisions about what gets published online in the first place?

For large organizations with a complex web presence involving multiple websites, different platforms and a variety of languages, these are troubling questions - especially if their answers are being determined by an untracked, dispersed group of content producers who have varying degrees of expertise and knowledge. In the face of such complexity, both in the larger digital landscape and in the specific tangle of their own online assets, many company leaders do nothing - not because they are indifferent, but because they have no idea how to begin to fix it.

Govern to win

Digital Governance

For some executives, the concept of digital governance can seem a bit esoteric initially - something to avoid on your plate in favor of the more familiar baked potato. But in fact, it's the most practical and effective business process for taming that unruly elephant that is your digital presence - and while doing so, bringing more clarity, effectiveness, compliance and optimization to your digital operations than ever before.

So, exactly what is digital governance? At the very top level, it's a surprisingly simple concept. Through digital governance, you're creating a flexible system for maintaining accountability, roles and decision-making for all content that you publish online. Once in place, this system ensures that you're utilizing best practices when you're publishing online. Those best practices have impact in two respects:

  • Internally, in optimizing your operations to be cost-effective and compliant.
  • Externally, in meeting the online needs of all of your stakeholders - customers, investors, partners or potential employees - anyone you want to engage with online.

At Crownpeak our Digital Quality Management platform provides a comprehensive framework to support your digital governance processes. It provides a robust platform to deploy your digital policies and standards, assign accountability and provides you with the essential metrics and insights to ensure ongoing compliance and optimization online. By having a global view across all your digital touchpoints, you can manage and optimize your digital presence as issues arise, and allocate your online resources more effectively.

The bottom line? Value.

What does an effective digital governance rollout deliver?

  • The ability to mitigate reputational and legal risk and avoid potential fines, especially if you operate in highly regulated industries such as financial services or life sciences.
  • Increased customer engagement and conversions through optimization of your digital operations, from the more tactical (such as increased visibility in search engines), to higher effectiveness in the overall user experience of your site. All of this contributes to a positive impact on your bottom line. This optimization also extends to brand enhancement. With an effective digital governance process in place, users will have a consistent, high quality experience of your brand no matter where they encounter it online. This consistency in turn builds user confidence and trust over time.
  • Increased productivity by avoiding the churn of miscommunication and uncertainty in content development, review and publishing. Instead, your employees can rely upon a set of agreed-upon procedures that provide a well-defined direction for all online assets, no matter what the project may be. As a result, your time to market online is greatly accelerated.

Still uncertain what digital governance can deliver? Here's what Ernst & Young noted recently:

"Half of the CFOs surveyed (51%) say digital governance is a high or very high priority. The CFO has a vital role to play in building a governance model that enables the organization to make the right investment decisions across the competing interests of different business units, functions and geographies. Of the CFOs who make digital governance a very high priority, over half report EBITDA growth of over 10% over the past three years."

(Study shows CFO-CMOs collaboration is increasing, but barriers remain, Ernst & Young)

That's pretty compelling stuff. But let me also insert a reality check here. Adopting and implementing the digital governance process within your company requires a long-term commitment - and an up-front acknowledgment that even positive change can be occasionally disruptive.

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