Planning For 2017? Here’s What You Need To Know

Q4 is in full swing. Beyond a focus on finishing the calendar year strong, your attention is most likely turning to key strategic initiatives for 2017. How you establish your digital presence in the upcoming year can mean the difference between product success or failure. Taking this a step further, digital planning goes beyond product planning. Digital innovation spans enterprise business offerings, full service design ecosystems, and virtually any touchpoint within your organization that connects people with products, systems, and each other.

To help you start to frame your digital mindset for 2017, we asked several Smashing team members that are responsible for strategic business planning the following question:

With 2017 fast approaching, many companies are in the throes of strategic planning for the new year ahead. What piece of advice would you give companies that are starting to plan their digital initiatives for 2017?


Brian Burke, Chief Executive Officer | One piece of advice for established companies is to focus on the macro trends in the market that will affect their business beyond 2017, and relate those to opportunities to enter (or re-enter) the market with break-through products and services. Every industry is going through some level of digital transformation and realizing emerging competition, but the over-arching strategy for each company, each division, and each product team should be formulated in the bigger picture of preservation and competition in opportunity, market relevance, and consumer need. Accelerating this awareness on an organizational level is critical and must be coupled with a tangible and executable strategy.


Brian Marr, Chief Strategy Officer | I would advise companies to not underestimate the internal transformation required of a company’s culture, processes, operations, and business models to bring successful, innovative digital products to market.  With nearly every product we’re hired to work on, we spend nearly as much time consulting on internal “ways of working,” service design, capabilities development, business models, and more, as we do on designing and building the product itself. This is the inherent nature of digital – if you want to create a disruptive product and lead the market, it’s likely you’ll need to disrupt the way you work. We’ve spent a lot of time optimizing how we fast track this transformation with our clients over the past few years, empowering each one to embrace change head-on and leapfrog their competitors.


Patrick Cousans, Executive Director, Client Engagement | Plan and budget for the unexpected and experimentation! Inevitably, there will be new technologies surfacing and associated opportunities with them. 2017 will allow some companies to leap forward because they are open to new solutions, and have sufficient planning foresight to guesstimate what they don’t yet know.


Lisa Dawson, Executive Director, Production | Start communicating with the teams that will be tasked with executing against strategic initiatives early in the process – this includes designers, developers, project managers, QA – even the people responsible for post-implementation support. The development of a strategy is a journey, with many conversations, inputs, and decision points along the way. Teams that understand how an initiative evolved, including what was considered and discarded, are more likely to be excited and invested in bringing a product vision to life.


Guy Borgford, Director of Business Development | I see the following as top priorities when planning for 2017:

  • Define stakeholders now and get them involved. Get them to express their pain points.
  • Identify cultural and organizational blockers now and consider workshop sessions to clearly define what they are and how they might be circumvented.
  • Set goals now and attach them to dates. Keep them broad, but anchor with KPIs in order to measure success and velocity.
  • Find a great agency partner that fits culturally and strategically with your organization – this brings in fresh insights from other industries, an objective view on your goals and objectives, an agent of change, and a way to break down internal barriers and blockers.


Matt Murphy, Senior Engagement Manager | Take the time to perform a proper 2016 retrospective with your entire team and those who help direct your product decisions. Having this type of open and honest dialogue will allow your team to celebrate all that went well over the course of the year and identify those items that can be improved. This can lay the foundation for improvement to products, new product ideas, or directions that can be explored further in planning, and even improvement in process and communication within your team.

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