From my somewhat objective freelance position I feel comfortable admitting I thought this year’s Digital Cream in London was the best I have attended.
We were blessed with the somewhat daunting sub-title: Agile working, collaborative tools, social enterprise and cloud based marketing tech.
That said, we had some fascinating conversations which mostly centred on agile marketing and a diverse group of attendees contributed.
Here are my top four takeaways from the day, which are covered in greater detail in my Digital Cream 2016 Report.
1. ‘Agile’ is a relative term
Working in an agile way is very much rooted in the software development sector.
Developers often prefer to work in this non-linear/non-waterfall fashion so user and A/B testing is more frequent (every week rather than just before deadline, for example) and bugs are dealt with more quickly.
In marketing, things seem a little less nailed down.
Agile marketing can relate to becoming more of a ‘social business’, using more digital technologies and giving marketers or developers more authority to launch campaigns and services in a more responsive, efficient manner.
Our discussion of agile incorporated all of the above and ultimately represents a newer way of working which is collaborative and more driven by employees and the end users of the products and services.
This is in contrast to, for example, simply waiting on orders from managers who often are somewhat disconnected from digital culture and the needs of the consumer.
2. Disrupt and be disrupted
Much of the need to go agile is driven by young businesses that are disrupting the market.
For example, in finance we see Atom Bank – a boundary-less, customer-led, digital bank – behaving in ways legacy banks have never dreamed of.
But disruption can also be something which is stimulated within agile businesses.
With investment, staff who are empowered enough to innovate and allowed to fail, learn and re-try, can develop new products, new services or new campaign ideas.
3. Fear stifles progress
Most barriers to adopting agile ways of working in modern businesses seem to relate to the people working within them, rather than – for instance – lack of funding and time.
Some staff members are concerned about digital taking over and putting jobs at risk, so it is understandable that we were hearing some people are worried about being made redundant should agile work methods be adopted.
Attendees also spoke of fear in regards to increased transparency and scrutiny which come with greater drives to ensure team members know what others are working on.
In-office stand-ups and weekly catch-ups may appeal to some staff members but not to those who are shy, anxious or admittedly not as efficient as they should be.
Some marketers were keen to stress that middle managers were often the most reluctant to adopt more transparent ways of working.
4. Education, education, education
It soon emerged that the best way to overcome fear and other barriers to adopting agile work methods is to educate staff about the benefits of these progressive ways of working.
Simple, shocking data (and that which comes from third-parties) can assist in getting buy-in from managers – especially if it relates to the bottom line.
Staff on ‘the floor’ are often keen to learn about other parts of the business and new techniques as it can enhance their work skills, employability and life outside of work.
Fundamentally, people need to be educated patiently, trustingly and without jargon about the benefits of agile working.
For more information about our People and Process discussions at Digital Cream 2016, check out my report.