Digital Transformation: A Cost, or an Unprecedented Opportunity?

Digital Transformation: A Cost, or an Unprecedented Opportunity?

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What’s the real cost of digital transformation? Should we all learn to code? How do we take people out of silos and put data and technologists into our teams? The latest in our Club 2017 Transformation evenings saw our CEO Suki Thompson lead debate on these questions and much more, with Ford Ennals, CEO, Digital Radio; Tete Soto, Director Customer Marketing, Telefonica (O2); Julian Brewer, Head of Digital Sales & Products, TSB; and Daniel Gilbert, CEO, Brainlabs.

To our delight we tapped into incredible insight and knowledge. Ford led a national movement with backing from the government to digitise the UK’s broadcast network. Daniel is delivering innovative programmatic buying solutions for clients, while Tete and Julian sit at the forefront of digital transformation of companies in two major sectors: mobile and finance.

Curiosity and engagement proved so punchy that we found ourselves trending on the evening!

Here are just a few of the insights we gathered:

Find evangelists

Driven, customer obsessed, entrepreneurial, team-spirited people who mix rationality with emotion are driving digital transformation. We need to encourage curiosity to flourish; re-teach that it’s fine to learn through doing; develop products that enable people to try something new, even if it’s small, train our people, and, champion coding in schools.

Data and digital in every team

There are now businesses that structure as squads and sit data analysts in every team from marketing to HR. There are examples of brands taking digital teams into creative agencies and sharing each other’s capabilities; inviting in suppliers, treating them like customers, and, posing them business problems. Scrum learning from others.

Be challengers

Clients challenge your agencies and agencies challenge your clients. And always challenge what makes for a good digital experience and its relevance. While bricks and mortar businesses adopt digital, winning brands recognise that people want real hands-on experience and person to person experience- see the rise of retail experience, customer service.

We’re in the era of narrow AI

Amazon Alexa is just the start…. Consider the real-world applications of AI e.g. self-driving cars, which must make decisions, “do I run over the fox on the road, swerve and hit a person?” That algorithm has yet to be designed. As marketers, we need to understand the opportunities that are coming because they are coming fast.

The real cost of digital transformation?

Investment in upskilling resources, technology, research and development, reorganising company structures to allow for culture change, address customer needs in real-time… We saw this opportunity not cost – an opportunity to create marketing that matters and improve lives. It will take longer that most challenges and roles and jobs will change. As agents of transformation, we’ll simply being doing things in different ways.

Finally, without exception our panel and our audience agreed on the most important aspect of digital transformation: the customer. As Diageo CEO, Ivan Menezes, said: “It’s not about doing ‘digital marketing’, it’s about brand building and marketing effectively in a digital world”.

A huge thank you to our panel and to all our Club members who helped to make the evening so successful.

At our next Oystercatchers Club Evening, Suki and the panel will be discussing Brands with Purpose. What can we, as an industry, do to make the world a better place? All to be revealed on the 10th May. For details please contact: freddie@theoystercatchers.com.

Victoria Sinclair