Over the last few months, most of us — ready or not — have been shoved right into the middle of global digital transformation. Whether it’s been bandwidth challenges thanks to parents and their kids all trying to work from home at the same time or figuring out how your collaborative team can work together remotely, it’s left a lot of folks feeling like they’re working without a net.

Digital policies are that safety net. They let you explore new boundaries and pivot quickly when circumstances change, whether it’s a threat from a new competitor or a global pandemic.

If you had global policies in place when COVID-19 changed the way we work, you would have known the answers to questions like these:

  • What platforms can we safely use for video conferencing? (As in not having to worry about Zoom Bombing!) And what procedures will best protect us and our data while using those tools?
  • Is the privacy of our customers at risk when we’re working on our personal devices on non-secure networks? What can we do to minimize that threat?
  • People often feel like they can be more casual when working from home. Do we need to have some kind of “remote work” policy that reminds everyone to maintain professional standards during virtual meetings, emails, chats, etc.?
  • What do we tell our customers when we can’t meet their needs? (Think retailers whose shelves have been bare of paper products for weeks!) Should we change our home page to get right to the point, or should we write a blog post?

Having a set of “crisis” digital policies would have made this shift to “remote everything” a lot easier for everybody. However, digital policies aren’t just about risks; they’re also about opportunities. Digital policies can help you embrace opportunities like:

  • Engaging your customers through social media: Will your social media conversations be down-to-earth with the “helpful neighbor” voice of Tractor Supply Company’s Instagram account? Or will it be more like Sephora’s Twitter account, conveying that “just walked out of a spa” feeling?And what about when customers reach out to you? Will you always respond? In what time frame?And what if somebody posts something racist or otherwise objectionable to your account? Will you delete it? Will you use AI to detect certain words and alert you…or will you wait until you get slammed by a Twitterstorm?
  • Strengthening your brand while promoting creativity: What things are most essential to your brand? Digital policies that address things like the color of your logo or the color and font of your company name keep essential branding consistent across all channels and from all of your content creators, while giving them the freedom to be creative and try new ways of reaching customers.
  • Taking your brand global: “Going global” is a huge endeavor — one full of both risks and opportunities. You may already know you have a huge market screaming for your product in another country, but all of that potential profit could be wiped out if you run afoul of privacy regulations or other laws. Knowing what you can’t do in another country frees you to explore what you can And exploring what you can do gives you the experience to decide whether you want to go even farther, like customizing not only language but images, colors, and other local preferences.

So many people think of digital policies as a strict teacher with a ruler looking over their shoulders. But they have it entirely backwards. Digital policies spell out what you can and can’t do so that you don’t need someone looking over your shoulder. And you don’t need to wait around for approvals if your digital policies already tell you something is OK.

I know that might sound a little fuzzy if you don’t have experience with digital policies, so let’s try this: Think of digital policies as traffic laws.

Traffic laws tell you how fast you can go, what side of the street to drive on, and when to stop to let other traffic go by. But they don’t tell you what kind of car you can drive or where you can go in that car. Those decisions are entirely up to you. And, because of the traffic laws that are in place, you can drive the car of your choice wherever you want to go without having to worry about what you should do at each intersection or wondering what other cars are going to do.

Digital policies, like traffic laws, lay the framework for reaching your objectives. What you do from that point is up to you.

Can also link to her article on CMS Wire: https://www.cmswire.com/digital-experience/how-to-take-your-digital-policies-global/

About the author

Kristina Podnar
Principal at NativeTrust Consulting, LLC

Kristina Podnar is a digital policy innovator. For over two decades, she has worked with some of the most high-profile companies in the world and has helped them see policies as opportunities to free the organization from uncertainty, risk, and chaos. More importantly though, they unlock opportunity, strengthen the brand and liberate employees to drive innovation.

Kristina is the Principal of NativeTrust Consulting, LLC. She has a BA in international studies and an MBA in international business from the Dominican University of California. Her book, The Power of Digital Policy was published in March 2019.