October 10, 2015

How are you joining forces with your Digital Leader?

By Paul Laughlin

iStock photoWho is your Digital Leader?

How are they doing in building digital capability into your business? Do they know your progress in building customer insight?

For many businesses, the Digital team is another key stakeholder (or internal customer) for Customer Insight leaders.

Following on from spending time listening to the needs of Customer Experience leaders earlier this week, on Thursday I focussed on Digital. Attending Global Reviews’ second UK Digital Leaders Summit, was a useful way to do this and also join a panel to answer questions on retaining & developing talent.

Regular readers will recall last year’s write-up of this event. This year was even better. Still free of sales pitches & exhibition stands. There was plenty of time for useful keynote talks, Q&A, networking, group exercises and relaxed chat over ping-pong. The last point being a clue that the event was once again held at the popular venue of Bounce in London, the home of Ping Pong (great venue):

Bounce – The Home of Ping Pong

Bounce is Europe’s largest purpose-built ‘Social Ping Pong Club’, featuring the finest cocktails and pizzas, in London’s most fun & vibrant destinations: Old Street and Farringdon.

Twitter followers will have noticed some of the learning points I tweeted during the day (you can see everyone’s by searching #UKDLS15). Since then I’ve had time to reflect on the key learning points for Customer Insight Leaders.

Are you joining forces with #DigitalLeader to build your #CustomerInsight capability? Click To Tweet

Manila McLean (Head of Digital at Tesco Bank) shared their story of building their digital capability, securing funding & taking others on the journey. Lots of good practice advice for digital leaders. What struck me was how many are akin to the challenges Customer Insight Leaders face in taking their CMOs and other leaders on the journey of investment & capability building.

Here’s a useful slide that Manila shared to summarise a “toolkit” for digital leaders. Each can also work as an approach to achieving Insight capability build:

Manila McLean

It was interesting to hear how their CMO annually produces a book to tell the story of progress on their digital journey & what’s next. This reminds me of learning the effectiveness of desirable artefacts as a way of building demand.

After our first panel session, expertly facilitated by Clare McDonnell from BBC 5 Live, we had opportunity to mingle and chat about our own experience. The panel session had focussed on dealing with digital disruption with some useful pointers on strategy & innovation from Lloyds, AIG & an Irish health insurer.

Lisa Clancy (Director of communications for the GAA) seems a rather alternative speaker for an audience of  mainly FS & Utilities sector digital leaders. However, Lisa’s determination & marketing experience in transforming the Gaelic Athletic Association’s engagement with fans, clubs & counties was relevant. We heard plenty of war stories of facing skepticism & lack of skills to build an increasingly engaging social & digital platform.

They have made great progress on a Content Marketing journey:

Taking the organisation from a place where you had to physically buy your tickets at a local venue (between set hours on a Wednesday afternoon), to one that has millions of social followers, online service and social content displayed on large screens at venue to continue engagement.  That is an achievement (as well as a very long sentence). The lesson for me was the importance of thinking about all your channels. A key challenge was how to bring the digital & social into the physical stadium (to drive revenue). How can you use insight to show ways to engage customers online through to face to face?

After a fun team exercise, that revealed slightly different interpretation and use of the same 6 graphs for everyone (another insight lesson), I joined the second panel session for the day. It was interesting to hear the questions about how to engage and retain digital talent. So many of these concerns are akin to those faced with such challenges for analysts/data experts. Creating an engaging, fun culture and crucially developing people so they see they will grow were key.

Photo from #UKDLS15

Sharon Baylay (experienced NED for a number of firms including ITE Group) was our last speaker. Once again there were valuable lessons here for Customer Insight Leaders. Despite her own techie pedigree with Microsoft, amusingly Sharon initially reminded us why there is resistance or scepticism at senior levels. Having profiled most of the organisations attending, the average age of chairmen & NEDs for those companies was over 60. Here she used the continued  wisdom of “The HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy” to remind us that anything invented after we are 35 is viewed as ‘against the natural order of things‘.

Sharon Baylay

Sharon followed this with a useful set of reminders about how to influence at senior levels. Speaking their language, understanding the areas of focus for Boards and demonstrating return from pilots all featured in this practical advice.

Echoing my own experience of influencing Executive Committees, Sharon also usefully shared the requirements of Boards from a governance perspective. anyone wanting to influence a Board better think about these topics. How can your Customer Insight message be expressed in these terms?

Sharon Baylay

So, once again a useful day. Identifying much common cause with Digital Leaders. Have you any experience of joining forces with Digital Leaders to help take your organisation forward?