We live in a global digital economy with over a billion websites, and the battleground for customers now focuses firmly on who can offer the best digital experience, according to Amanda Follit, head of digital operations services for Amaze. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Investment in digital marketing is set to outstrip TV advertising spend by 2016 and Forrester predicts that marketing leaders will spend more than $103 billion on digital marketing by 2019.

Not surprisingly, there is a direct correlation between the growth of digital operations and the need to manage them. Yet while resources in terms of time, money and people have been allocated to help drive digital growth, the same cannot be said of digital operations management.

If overlooked, however, poor management of digital operations can, and will, lead to a myriad of costly issues, including putting reputations severely at risk. This happens when organisations fail to join the dots and see clear, actionable ways to implement digital operations management strategies.

Encouragingly, a shift in perspective is starting to occur. Organisations are beginning to wake up to the reality that a tipping point has been reached, where there is now a real need to fulfil the potential of digital operations ensuring they are efficient, deliberate in practice and measurable in order to maintain and improve customer experience.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a certain level of confusion in the marketplace around what good digital operations management looks like, and the best way to achieve it.

Four key steps
To really drive operational change for digital management and enjoy significant competitive advantage, there are four key elements that need to be considered by any business looking to implement and deliver a successful digital operations management framework:

  1. Digital operations maturity: how ready are you?
    The first step in any digital operations management framework should be to measure an organisation's capability to manage its digital footprint.

    There is no escaping the fact that the maturity of your digital operation matters, regardless of industry or size, and implementing a continuous means of monitoring and improving the capabilities of an organisation to manage its digital estate is vital.

    An organisation cannot move forward with efficient digital operations management until it develops an understanding of its current maturity, especially in terms of highlighting the improvements that can be made to elevate them to a greater capability of digital management. Levels of maturity vary widely, from those who are unaware what they need to do for digital management, to those at the other end of the scale who have established what they need to do, and look to continuously improve.

    Only once maturity levels have been assessed can recommendations for change be made and new solutions implemented and monitored for success or need for further change.

  2. Digital governance: turning data into meaningful intelligence
    There is a common misconception that digital governance is merely about who has the authority to add and remove content to websites and social media accounts, as well as having a chain of command in place to ensure no unauthorised activity takes place. Though this is key, having a roadmap that clearly defines roles and responsibilities for managing a digital presence is only one point in the triangle of governance. Equally, if not more, important are monitoring that policies, standards and guidelines are being adhered to and then translating the resulting data combined with multi-sourced information into actionable and meaningful intelligence to continuously improve the digital presence and the management of the web estate.

    What is absolutely vital in terms of driving change and achieving competitive advantage is recognising that governance is not just about implementing a framework to control digital processes, but realising the value of the information that implementing tools to monitor this (such as Sitemorse) can produce, and creating governance analytics to embed into the process.

  3. Becoming 'data detectives' to drive change
    Evaluating and reporting on organisations' KPIs to highlight areas for improvement and inform future optimisation of the digital estate and its operation is, by majority, an untapped area that can give insights and help gain competitive advantage. Key to this is the ability to analyse data collected through multiple sources including that generated by governance tools, to give a big picture view on how digital operations are performing and ensure that digital processes are as efficient as possible.
  4. Tailored training: context, not content
    The final piece in the digital operations management puzzle, and key to ensuring that processes are continuously monitored and improving, is implementing structured training. Client knowledge can be improved through formal training sessions, Q&A surgeries (for ad-hoc training) and master classes, each providing expert-level tuition on all or specific aspects of digital operations management.

    What is important to highlight here is that this does not refer to just practical training in terms of how to publish content on websites. What also needs to be prioritised as part of the over-arching strategy is the need for on going training that focuses on context of their role and their responsibilities, not just content, and ensures that staff are being as efficient and effective as possible.

Organisations are standing on the threshold of a new era in driving even better customer experience through digital effectiveness. Improving digital operations management is absolutely vital to this and understanding how one's web presence is being managed is not only possible, it is necessary for success.

"Those forward-looking organisations that can see the intrinsic value of investing the time, resources and effort into implementing a new approach to digital operations management that encompasses the four key steps outlined earlier, will be the ones to ultimately profit from the very real business benefits such a framework can deliver," concluded Follit. "If digital experience is the new battleground for gaining competitive edge, then efficient digital operations management is a key tool in an organisation's arsenal."

The company's white paper on this subject has been made available for free download - click here.