digital economy

Digital transformation dreaming

creativeThere is a huge pile of research reports and studies on my desk how digitization will change the way we do business. And I am sure there are similar piles in many managers’ offices. But what good are the best reports if you are unable to move the transformation forward?

Those that are succeeding in moving along their digital transformation have two things in common: one, they not only understand what digital transformation means, they also know that it means a fundamental change for the whole company. And two, they ensure that they have the right resources with the right expertise to transform their corporate culture to meet the upcoming challenges.

Digital transformation needs to driven by the CEO. Not your Head of IT. Not your Head of Sales. Not your Head of Something Something. It needs to be one of the top strategic priorities for the whole company driven from the top down.

Digital transformation is not walking down a straight path. You will need to be open for new business models. For new ways of implementing products and services. And your corporate culture will need to allow failure.

Digital transformation can be driven an internal facilitator like a Chief Digital Officer or even be outsourced into a new venture that can work without any “analog”disruption from the organization in form of resistance or doubts. But whatever way is chosen at the end of you will need a leader.

Digital transformation needs a leader who has a strong project management background, who is a multitasker, open to try new things. You will need someone who is impatient, a fast thinker , who plays well with others and is able to influence change within the culture of the board and with it the rest of the company. And you will need someone who is a strong communicator. Someone who can combine the “old” with the “new”.

That is why it is imperative for all organizations to start understanding what digital transformation means for their business and  how the digital competencies of new and existing directors will fit emerging strategies. And it is the CEO’s task to ensure that this journey is started on the right path.

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Time to get inspired again

It has been a busy few weeks for me with lots of travel and deadlines to meet. But now that things are finally returning back to normal  over the summer (hopefully!) it is time to get inspired again by all the great innovation going on the world – and not only from a marketer’s perspective!

New technologies are turning the financial world upside down. The WSJ recently wrote “In five years, the biggest banks in the world won’t be banks, they’ll be tech companies.” And right they are. Big tech players in the internet industry like Google, Facebook or Apple are already working on developing alternative payment systems and other innovations for the financial industry. So time for existing financial institutions to get on the wagon. Barclays is a great example of the few players who are taking this trend seriously. For instance, they recently launched “Code Playground”  a website to teaches young people about coding as part of ongoing plans to increase digital skills among its customers. Ticktock on the clock for those who are not yet looking at the disruptive forces in banking.

And of course the Apple Watch. We all know it will have a big impact on marketing and we are seeing many early brand adopters. Like publishers. The New York Times, CNN and The Economist are all making a run to offer us “wrist sized” content. And right they are – while some of us are still wondering why one needs an Apple watch, others are realizing where the web moves to so must your business.

Want to up your  “customer loyalty”? Then  take a look at Marriott’s Mobile App. They have just launched a new feature where guests can make specific requests (as far as 72 hours in advance). Anything from that additional pillow to make you sleep better to getting an extra bottle of shampoo. There’s even a two-way chat feature in case you have a very “specific” request.

Of course we should not snub tweeting potholes or Google’s fragrance emission’s device (yes it’s a wearable that can tell you when you start to smell a bit in the armpitty region) – so if you want to feel inspired as well, take a look at WeAreSocial “Curiosity Stop” for some new impulses. I really have to give them kudos for having formed an internal Innovation Team who scour the world to spot new disruptive forces and seek out the latest innovations and then put it all into this great, little report.

Drones, Messaging and More: Some Insights from Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends Report

Screen-Shot-2015-05-27-at-11.30.33-AMIt’s that time of year again (or another year has flown by more like it).Last week Mary Meeker presented once again her deep dive into tech trends. A whooping 197 slides this year, here are my main takeaways about the state of the internet world in 2015:

  • 39% of the world population (or 2.8 billion people) are now on the internet. Getting the remaining 5 billion people connected is a huge business opportunity. We have seen Facebook (Internet.org) and Google (Project Loon) make inroads. Of course their hope is by giving people in developing countries access to the web, they will become loyal customers.
  • Not really new news: the top internet companies are actually platforms. Think Apple, Google, Alibaba, Facebook and Amazon.
  • Whereas we have already seen massive transformation in the consumer space, great potential for new business opportunities lie in healthcare, education and government.
  • If you live in the US and are an adult, then you spend over 5.6 hours a day on the internet and that mostly via your mobile device. In Europe we are seeing a similar trend. And of course as our attention span gets shorter, we prefer shorter, bite-sized content.
  • And very important for us marketers: while consumers spend most of their time on mobile, ad spend on this medium is not on par. Another huge revenue opening.
  • Video viewing is growing. 9.9 hours a day in the US. And interesting to see that more people watch video vertically than horizontally (think Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram…) – so for content creators this means rethinking how they shoot their videos.
  • Messaging is KING! 6 of the 10 top apps by usage are messaging apps. Another potential opportunity for businesses by offering additional services like taxi, payment or food delivery services (similar to what WeChat is already doing in China). New messaging apps will have a hard time penetrating the market as it will become hard convincing people to join a new network their friends and family are not on.
  • Generation Z is shifting from text to visual social media. Facebook and Twitter are being used less, Snapchat and Instagram more.
  • With technology we are moving more to “just in time” products and services. Think grocery or food delivery, driver services, package pickups. Traditional businesses will become more and more disrupted unless they can find a way to compete with convenience. But online market places as well as on demand services are creating “part time jobs”. AirBnB, Uber  or Etsy allow for supplemental incomes to people’s “regular” jobs. A trend that will continue to grow no doubt.
  • Drones are the new cameras. Fact: There has been 167% year-over year increase in consumer drone sales. But we also need to consider their commercial use. They have the ability to save money for businesses by replacing planes amongst others and worse case could replace human jobs.
  • And finally – millennials are starting to drive the economy. Not only are they an important consumer group that marketers need to consider in their strategies, but also employers. Millennials have grown up connected to the internet and expect their working experience to offer that same flexibility.

Of course working a lot with clients in the financial industry, what is missing for me is more insight into how the finance and banking sector is and will continue to be affected by the internet. Think peer to peer lending, crowdsourcing, Bitcoin or even just simply how millennials will want to bank in the future.

Maybe Mary Meeker will include a slide in next year’s report.

The digital economy. Cheap smart phones will change everything.

I gave a presentation at the European University as part of the American Germany Business Club Exchange yesterday together with another marketing colleague of mine on “Marketing Strategy in the Digital Economy”. And I realized the 45 minutes we had to present just did not suffice. So much has changed since digital hit us and hit us in all industries and the way we need to do business now and will be doing business in the future.

Catching up on my reading this Sunday morning, I came across this interesting article in WIRED which is just one of the many examples of how changes are influencing our digital economy. Cheap smartphones are popping up everywhere. But don’t dismiss them. For many people around the globe it will be their first screen and their only screen. Their primary interface with the world. This means  a huge array of  new opportunities huge impact on both social and political issues.