- Perth-based Lenox Hill provides solutions to companies that are considering a digital transformation.
- Companies should avoid getting distracted by the latest shiny toys in digital.
- Social media strategies need to be driven by the capabilities of the business.
Jane Muirsmith FCA’s greatest passion is helping businesses embrace the 21st Century digital landscape. Lenox Hill, the company she founded in 2014, specialises in providing digital strategies and solutions for companies seeking transformation.
Muirsmith is not a digital native. Growing up, this Perth-based accountant did not have access to mobile, the internet or email.
Like most digital immigrants, Muirsmith has had to adapt to a world where technology is constantly evolving. With Lenox Hill she is teaching businesses how to position themselves to leverage the opportunities that the digital space offers.
“It is challenging,” she says. “We sit right between the operations of the business, the marketing of the business and the technologists.
“Social needs to be viewed in the context of your digital capabilities and depending on where you are in your level of maturity.”
“There is a lot of confusion in the market and I think it is really overwhelming for small- and mid-sized businesses. Obviously, larger corporations have the resources to help guide them through the process.
“It’s about smart decision making around what you should do and perhaps what you shouldn’t do and I don’t think in digital you should try to be all things to all people.”
Muirsmith says asking questions about where your company should follow a digital path and what capabilities you should invest in on that journey is critical.
“Look at it with a business lens rather than getting distracted by the latest shiny toys from digital,” she says.
Digital disruption or digital optimisation?
Understanding the virtues and vices of digital is key to rolling out a business-wide transformation. Digital solutions can both optimise and disrupt a business, so it’s important to define what outcome you are seeking to achieve.
"We sit right between the operations of the business, the marketing of the business and the technologists."
“You have to have your eye on both,” Muirsmith says. “Look at what digital capabilities you need in your existing business to grow sales, improve productivity, and maintain or grow market share. But look outside the organisation to how digital is disrupting other industries [like yours].”
It is important to also consider what role digital is going to play in the future of your specific industry. Different industries are investing in different types of digital transformation projects, and the size of your business may inform how you approach your digital makeover.
The way projects are being deployed is also changing. Have we seen the end of big-budget digital projects?
“There is certainly much less appetite,” Muirsmith says. “For big waterfall projects, the level of tolerance has certainly diminished over time. We have seen the rise of agile methodology, we’ve seen the rise of user-centred design and incremental project deployment.”
This has led to the need for incremental deployment of digital solutions and the need to continually build the business case for continued investment in digital.
“In the old days 18 months to two years was acceptable for a big digital project to deliver and for people to wait for that,” Muirsmith says. “Now it is certainly different."
“There is a race to deliver, but also the challenge now is the risk that comes with the channel and the protection that needs to go around the data, the stability of the platform.
“All of those issues need to be thoroughly thought through. So it is always a challenge between getting to market first and delivering a capability that is robust.”
A less is more approach to social
Depending on your industry and your customers, social media may form part of your digital transformation. It’s very easy to get excited about the marketing potential social media platforms offer, but your social media strategy needs to align with your overall business strategy.
A less-is-more tack is often called for when drawing up your social strategy.
Muirsmith says do fewer channels, but do them extraordinarily well and be in the medium. “For example, if you do Instagram but not the others, that’s okay. If you want to do Instagram with Facebook but not Twitter, just get your toe in the water and drive some results. You can waste money in social if you don’t think it through.”
As with all business investments, it’s important to ask questions before investing in social. You need to define what you’re trying to achieve – brand reach, customer engagement, or sales growth – and work backwards from there to finalise your social strategy.
“Social needs to be viewed in the context of your digital capabilities and depending on where you are in your level of maturity,” Muirsmith says.
“I would argue that other digital capabilities need to take priority over social. It may be okay not to have social active while you are sorting out the things that really matter to your customers and that might be through the provision of services through digital means.”
There is always a role for social media in business, if you have the capacity for it. But it should not be about morphing into a platform just for the sake of it. It needs to be based around where your customers are and what they want.
“It’s probably not a popular view, but social needs to be viewed in the broader context,” Muirsmith says. “The things that really matter, that’s where the money would be best spent and that may not be in social.”
Jane Muirsmith and 9/11
In September 2001, Muirsmith was working as director of online, communications and public affairs at Merrill Lynch’s global head office in Lower Manhattan. Her office was located inside the World Trade Centre.
To read Muirsmith’s first-hand experience on the recovery effort at ground zero following the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, keep an eye out for the August/September 2017 issue of Acuity magazine.
article is part of an regular Women In Business column.
Jane Muirsmith FCA GAICD is chair of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand’s WA Business Panel and sits on the national Corporate Sector Advisory Committee.
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