individual internet uses are globally democratised (1), and most of the commentators now recognise that “every business is a digital business” (2). We are coming to an age where digital is now “noticed only by its absence, not its presence” (3) a bit like plastic. Very soon, the idea of a director of digital will be, and should be, as peculiar as a director of paper.
Digitally enabled citizens are paying ever closer attention to purposeful initiatives they can support, and bad practices to denounce. They don’t kneel down, they don’t negotiate, they don’t let themselves be pushed around. From the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York to the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong; from the Arab Spring to the 2014 Protests in Brazil or even the Indignados movement in Spain; empowered citizens are watching us and making themselves not only heard but also provoking change.
They are crazy about purpose, and are looking for purpose driven businesses. For instance, 73% of Millennials are willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings (4), and they would take a $7,600 pay cut to find work that matches their values (5).Basically,if a business wants Millennials to buy from them, or work for them, they need to be purpose led.
Businesses need now more than ever to constantly protect their right to operate.
Citizens are empowered by digital technologies and are looking to support purpose driven businesses or otherwise boycott the ones that misbehave. Whichever side businesses choose, empowered citizens and the reach and immediacy of digital media will ensure they do not forget how they should behave. We remember the backlash against the Oscars because of their significant lack of diversity among the nominees, or more recently, in the Uk, the one against the burger chain Byron because of their immigration sting against their own workers. More positively and to reflect the gain, we can reference the recent initiative from Nike Woman to celebrate body positivity via individual Instagram accounts supporting the launch of their new series of sports bras.
To be effective, the approach to purpose needs to be driven by cross functional teams acting (rather than conceptualising) tangible and measurable initiatives.
Turning your business into a purpose led one is not a branding exercise, it is a transformative journey that involves leaders empowering and crosses into finance, strategy, HR and marketing. To make it effective, and in order to on board every stakeholder, businesses need to be concrete in their actions and measure (and celebrate) frequently their progress and improvement.
This model, that we have called the Post Digital Business Framework, helps us to get an in depth understanding of how purposeful a business is with tangible indicators. Far from being dogmatic about purpose, the framework articulates the 4 most common approaches to purpose with related business objectives and key metrics. The framework allows us to then develop bespoke strategic recommendations and monitor the improvement.
Feel free to have a play with our framework on the following link and contact us if you want to know more about how you can shape a business fit for the future.
(3) Quote from Nicholas Negroponte in “Beyond Digital”
(4) Nielsen Report 2015
(5) SHRM 2014 Survey, “Millennial’s Desire to Do Good Defines Workplace Culture”
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