Interactive Business: The Critical Shift in Business Strategy

By David Sauter, CEO

Published: October 27, 2013

Interactive business is a term that has origins in Marketing. It earned it’s name “interactive” due to the focus on the relational components like web sites, mobile apps, social media and inbound lead generation.  Interactive business is much more than just marketing – it is critical to business strategy, a key in sharpening your competitive edge and formulating a strategy that drives the business growth necessary to dominate your industry. But, interactive is not about technology – it’s not about Facebook or Salesforce, SharePoint or HubSpot.

Interactive business is about an internal strategic shift that has little to do with the technology you use and everything to do with elevating interactive as a viable part of how you do business. It exemplifies the shift of interactive and digital strategy away from the marketing department and in turn infused throughout an organization. All key functional leaders in the organization play a part in strategy formulation of interactive solutions that benefit sales, marketing, customer service and production.

Interactive Affects Business

It’s a shift in thinking continues to emerge in progressive companies, those organizations that infuse innovation throughout their culture and in turn reap the rewards of staying on the cutting edge both in satisfaction and in sales. The key to becoming one of these companies, or staying one, is simple in theory but often hard to enact. It is hinged on innovation and a penchant for agility.

Infuse interactive business in your strategy formulation by elevating it beyond the marketing department and you will improve cross department, company wide solutions that produce return.

As usual with digital, the caveat is this: Do not fear the unknown when it comes to interactive business. When you’re ahead of the curve, a company that leads in innovation, you must find comfort in crossing the chasm, hedging forward even when you don’t have proof or validation of the potential success of your efforts. If you keep your company mainstream or a laggard – you’ll follow. If you’re going to lead in business innovation, you have to get out in front and take a risk. You can’t wait for proof – you create it. Visualize it, create it, measure it, adjust it and measure some more.

In these situations, a “Gut, Data, Gut” approach aids innovators in determining if a strategy is viable and one to pursue. When you have an instinct or gut, do your best to validate that instinct with data and then based on that data, you must move to action – either forward or back to the drawing board.

Although it’s still a new philosophy, more and more senior executives are taking that risk and engaging with interactive business activity. In fact, progressive businesses are re-shaping the org chart to enhance the visibility and impact interactive business has in strategy formulation. “Across most of the C-suite, larger shares of respondents report that their companies’ senior executives are now supporting and getting involved in digital initiatives. This growth illustrates the importance of these new digital programs to corporate performance, as well as the conundrum that many organizations face: often, the CEO is the only executive who has the mandate and ability to drive such a cross-cutting program.”

As executives embrace interactive business, it truly requires a top down push for implementation of a cohesive interactive strategy. According to Industry Week, “when it comes to developing a marketing budget for 2014, C-level executives must consider the ever-evolving definition of marketing so the company can develop the right strategies before jumping into the tactics.”

The Takeaway: If you want to be a leader, in interactive business or otherwise, you must realize you’re on the cutting edge and welcome change. You can still validate your thinking, but the bottom line is you can’t sit and wait for proof or for everyone else to do it otherwise you are no longer leading. You’ve very quickly become a follower.