Chris George is SVP Product Management at Somo – a global digital product agency that has worked with the likes of HSBC, Vodafone, and Skoda. We caught up with him to find out how the pandemic has impacted his work.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
I’m the SVP of Product Management at Somo. I help to lead an extremely talented team of product managers who are focused on building great products that help a wide range of clients and partners across diverse industries realise their digital ambitions at pace and scale.
How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?
Quite significantly. Aside from the obvious physical implications determined by social distancing, there are a number of associated considerations for the team (and business) as a whole. Ensuring that they stay connected, informed, and most importantly positive, is a big part of my day at the moment. Somo has offices in London, Bristol, Washington D.C, Charleston SC and Medelliín, Colombia, so we are used to working remotely across distributed teams. We were able to transition to the entire company working remotely relatively smoothly in just a few hours.
What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?
Zoom fatigue is real! Back-to-back virtual meetings mean there is none of that extra time in-between the meetings as you walk from one meeting room to another in a physical context. We’re promoting the use of Speedy Meetings through Google Calendar that automatically builds in time between meetings, which can serve as a reminder to go take a short break, make a coffee or just walk around the house! We are also utilising Miro to run virtual workshops/whiteboard sessions which has been working really effectively.
Which companies have impressed you since the outbreak?
It’s been kind of interesting to see the way that different companies and indeed industries have changed their approach (or not!). What has been amazing to see and truly impressive is the way so many small businesses have adapted and wrapped around the needs of communities at a local level, supporting those most in need.
What changes are you making to help your brand connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?
Mainly with lots of outreach on various channels focused around doing the right thing for both customers and staff in their time of need. Our marketing team is doing a great job of finding nuggets of advice or wisdom, from various walks of life, both internally and externally and sharing them with a wider audience. Outside of connecting with the Somo brand, we are doing a lot of work internally to make sure that our staff are still connected to our mission and values, and that we are doing all we can to support them day-to-day. Our culture is a cornerstone of life at Somo and maintaining it for both teams and clients while working remotely requires more energy and forethought than ever.
What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?
At a macro level, the most obvious trend is the acceleration of digital transformation requirements across industries, which we are beginning to see the early stages of. On a more granular level, we are seeing companies accelerating their ‘move to cloud roadmaps’ and kicking-off or fine-tuning work-from-home programs for much bigger teams.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
Empathy needs to be put before everything else at the moment. There is a lot of uncertainty everywhere from markets and industries to individuals and society as a whole. More than anything, I believe the message needs to be ‘How can we help you?’ before anything else.
What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your brand?
Covid-19 has emphasised the need for companies to be able to react extremely quickly to unforeseen circumstances. Something of this scale also exposes the fallibility of both short-term and long-term planning. At Somo, we foresee an acceleration of digital transformation programs globally, led by ‘the new normal’ that is a direct result of the pandemic. The challenge is how companies respond to these opportunities with innovative products and services in a new, largely undefined global landscape.
For more on digital transformation, visit Econsultancy’s DT hub page.