In January 2016 I wrote a blog on my return from the UK – 5 Challenges for the Digital Leader in 2016 – and I thought it was worth revisiting the topic for 2018 to discuss what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and what we might expect in the future.
Although the 5 challenges I listed in 2016 are still relevant today, the following 2 challenges will always be on my radar and I really don’t see this changing in the years to come, 1) Finding and keeping good talent, and 2) Where to focus digital resources.
These 2 challenges are also intrinsically linked, because good digital talent need interesting projects to continue their professional development and to maintain engagement. Ensuring you have your digital talent focused on the right business projects and projects they are interested in will always be an ongoing challenge.
Coming into 2018, there are 3 new challenges which I believe will be in focus for most digital leaders and each of these challenges will result in very interesting projects.
- Customer Experience; the challenge here lies in demonstrating how customers interact with digital and non-digital channels and using this information to develop a holistic customer experience. It is important to identify and link customers across each digital channel and then demonstrate how they interact with non-digital channels. As an example, a customer may complete all their research via social media and online, but then purchase in store or over the phone. How are all these individual interactions mapped and tracked accordingly? It is a complex but achievable task and is going to rely heavily on Data & Insights.
- Data & Insights; in my current role there is a great deal of data, but not a lot of information. The challenge here is making sense of all the data and being able to produce actionable insights or information to better understand customer behaviour, which in turn will lead to improved customer experiences. Referring to the previous point, it is very important to be able to identify customers across different channels by using captured data points e.g. an email address, social media ID, phone number, website cookie or a personalised promo code web link. By building a data warehouse the business can start building a profile of a customer as small identifiable pieces of customer information can be pieced together. Having people in your team who have the necessary skills to look at the data and be able to identify trends or opportunities is key here.
- AI – there is considerable hype and excitement around AI, and there should be. AI could provide incredible opportunities, especially around understanding our customers better. However, we’re still thin on practical examples. In 2017, I attended several marketing and digital conferences. Their common theme was references to the Terminator movies. Hopefully 2018 will have less Arnie and more practical examples of how AI can positively impact our businesses.