What will you be looking for when judging The Digitals entries this year?

Every now and then, an idea emerges, to challenge the norm, and radically simplify customers’ lives, by making technology do the hard work, and streamlining how a business process is performed.

I am looking forward to the seeing the imagination of the people who entered this year, and how they have built on customer insights that touch an emotional cord, to their innovation, and potentially disrupted traditional business models.

In keeping with our global theme, are there campaigns that stand out in your mind as best practice from other areas outside the UK?

There have been some really interesting examples of good use of digital technology in the last year, and not always in the commercial space, which is often where businesses have to look for inspiration on how to drive genuine engagement.

  • A good example is the spectacular growth of Khan Academy. The platform provides free education for anyone anywhere, by operating as a platform both for students who can access thousands of educational videos hosted on YouTube, and for coaches who can track the progress of their pupils. The Khan Academy mobile app was praised by the BBC as the ‘best educational app’ last year. Content is increasingly crowd-sourced in the same way Wikipedia has been developing, and also benefits from a critical mass of FAQs that facilitate learning.
  • In the Financial Services sector, Green Dot launched GoBank in the US in January, taking the concept of ‘Mobile First’ a step further to ‘Mobile Only’. A radically new set of interactions have been imagined for consumers to interact with their bank on a mobile, for example, rethinking how to check your balance by just swiping the screen before log-in, or  tracking your spend against monthly budgets, and integrating peer-to-peer payments with your contacts…
  • A really good benchmark on running a digital operation was the Obama campaign last year, combining digital marketing and analytics. The campaign ran 8,000 team leaders and 32,000 volunteers, with an email list of 16M of which 4.4M were donors (four times the operational footprint of its competitor). The digital team was more than double the size of the 2008 team, showing the need to constantly move forward with digital, and it applied the latest analytics science to better predict the results of the election and optimise fundraising emails. 

How do you build digital excellence within your company?

In Deloitte, digital excellence manifests itself in many ways. Firstly in the way we collaborate to accelerate the pace at which ideas are shared and solutions formulated – we are rapidly adopting ‘social enterprise’ tools in our day-to-day business. Secondly, we have found that our clients require a different kind of support to exploit the possibilities offered by digital transformation

Which is why last year, we launched Deloitte Digital, which combines ‘right brain’ skills with ‘left brain’ thinking, and set up creative studios across the world to assist clients on everything digital from strategy to implementation.

What we find is that there are typically four disciplines that drive digital excellence in our company and with our clients. The first one is leadership, and the ability to imagine new things, often by giving a stronger voice to the digital natives in the business.

Secondly, the way in which we build products and platforms, in a more iterative and agile way. Then, organisation and culture have to align to deliver exceptional customer experiences, which means that a critical success factor is to treat digital as a transformation journey rather than a project. And finally, we need to create accountability for benefits realisation, so that digital initiatives continue to be at the top of the agenda and are sustained over the long term.

Recognising the current state of maturity is important, because it is sometimes better to grow in digital centres of excellence that sit outside of the core business in order to accelerate their development, while businesses who are more mature must now look to integrate digital into the wider business.

What types of company and business sectors do you see excelling at digital marketing and ecommerce at the moment?

Not all industry sectors are impacted by digital transformation in the same way, and the best approach is not always to make take radical steps with Digital. However, in some sectors, changes are profound and rapid: the Media, Personal Finance and Retail sectors provide good examples of both incumbents and new entrants innovating and adopting new digital practices, that other industry sectors can take some learning from. Here are a few domains that exemplify digital transformation:

  • In Broadcast and Publishing, digital content management and distribution have been totally transformed, from a model of finite supply via finite channels, to infinite supply via infinite channels.
  • In Retail, consumers expect a seamless experience across physical and digital touch points, and smartphones are rapidly intermediating the shopping experience, becoming every retailer’s shop window, in every hand, anytime, anywhere.
  • In Financial services, digital empowers the customer with access to convenient, personalised, and timely information, which are trends that several incumbents and new players are beginning to build innovative services around

How should companies be defining and measuring digital excellence?

Over the last 12 months we have worked with several different clients to define their digital strategy and defining and measuring digital performance is one of the most difficult and interesting questions we have to answer. 

Traditionally one of the big strengths of digital has been that you can measure everything; traffic, conversion rate etc. however it is becoming clear that the complex influence that digital touch points have on brand loyalty and behaviours make the performance measurement of multichannel activity feel like an art more than a science. 

  • Businesses need to acknowledge that strategic digital investment may require a leap of faith, considered in the light of the counterfactual of not participating in digital channels.  
  • However, whilst a leap of faith may be required for some investments it is critically important to establish granular KPIs within digital operations and for these KPIs to track benefit across channels e.g. what increase in sales has click and collect achieve? what are the cost savings achieved by migrating customers to self-serve online? How has in store Wi-Fi impacted online sales? Etc.

    Then, what matters is to embed a culture of observation and learning to experiment and test different approaches. A good example is one of our client’s recent implementation of a new web platform that enables the running of rapid campaigns – we are able to run campaigns extremely efficiently and to take to market multiple versions of webpages or emails in a given week. Until then, the cost of a campaign was not even known to the management team, but now we can see the difference in performance between variants, which is often caused by unexpected factors, but consistently results in spectacular RoI improvements.

What do you see as being the biggest digital trends of 2013, and do you see examples of companies capitalising on these as part of their digital marketing campaigns and programmes?

There are too many to mention and I enjoyed Ashley’s blog post where he managed to come up with 17! And we have also recently published our official tech trends report for 2013 

But if I had to pick one it would be ‘Mobile Only’ which I think will see coming of age this year, as:

  • Improved mobile connectivity via improvements like 4G and free public WiFi will enable designers to create richer mobile experiences.
  • Companies are inspired by early adopters of the ‘Mobile Only’ philosophy, e.g. Hailo, Square or GoBank.
  • High-street retailers begin to more seriously consider the impact of the smartphone and ‘digital wallets’ as an integral part of the shopping experience.
  • Cloud based mobile payment services increasingly provide an enabler for convenient commercial models on mobiles. 

Econsultancy regularly works with global brands to tackle their own digital transformation head on. Contact us to learn about how this is affecting businesses, including yours, and how our approach and experience can assist you.