Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Digital Dissent & Discontent

Nul posts for August, and I'm only just going to squeak in for September. Rubbish.

Yes, I've contributed to other digital spaces but not my own. Poor show. It's not even been for a lack of digital treasure or disaster. Just a lack of time either to keep a finger on the pulse properly or process it enough to put fingers to keyboards.

I'm not alone. Amongst more than a handful of my digerati brethren, the sparky digital brains I respect and love to kick ideas about with, I am detecting an autumn of discontent.  I've been under too much pressure over the last few weeks for my brain to have the space to properly put my finger on the cause, but the fact that I'm detecting a trend should be setting alarm bells ringing in more than a few board meetings.  There's talent turmoil in the offing.

And it's not just agency folk either.  What I'm seeing is a growing discontent between the few marketers who really "feel" digital and the organisations that are constraining their attempts to adapt and innovate, and, on the flipside, senior level digital bods in agencies equally frustrated about clients that aren't making enough true commitment to do digital properly, leaving us bored, dealing with tedious detail, and fighting the same political battles over and over, not focussing on the future which is what we should be doing.

Just increasing your investment in digital 1% is not enough. We're in 2012 not 2007. I've seen cases recently where organisations are talking up digital and its importance to the future of the business but can't step back far enough to realise that they are never going to drive digital thinking through the business without proper training both at grassroots AND board level, AND a proper commitment to investment in IT infrastructure. Just for starters. What sort of message does it send to the organisation about your commitment to digital if you are still asking your staff to use a browser that was released in 2006?!  Ask most people whether they have more up to date tech at home or at work and the answer will predominantly be in favour of home.  Sure there's good reasons in a BYOD (bring your own device) to work / cloud technology world why data security should absolutely be taken seriously, but again that's about corporate focus and investment in the right places. Investment to ENABLE a business to work efficiently in a fast moving world.

Maybe it's a level of digital maturity occurring that's fuelling our frustrations. Sure, we're all guilty of getting bored easily, we like problem solving and moving on, but endless repetition makes our souls shrivel, a state we can only cope with if we're being challenged elsewhere. iPhone 5, iOS 6 releases, yadda yadda, these things don't excite us in the way they used to, we've adapted, embraced and moved beyond that. The digital brains know that mobile OS devices are the future, that they offer many greater possibilities  on so many levels that still aren't getting enough attention, but we're still dragging along the baggage of 3 years ago when social was becoming the shiny toy.  Everyone has a "counting paperclips" element of hygiene factors in their job, the "are you spending enough money on search, is your website optimised, yes you could have a Facebook page but what are you going to talk about and how are you going to ensure people see what you do say" conversations we all have to have repeatedly, but there's a lack of focus on the future that's getting nearer faster all the time.

Data data everywhere, but not enough work being done to assimilate it into manageable and moreover useful information to react to. Identifying the data points is a good start, working out what they can tell you is progress but pushing investment on how you fuse them together, de-dupe and not just analyse the outcomes but drive "so-what's" that businesses are set up and ready to action is still far too far out for many. Yet I've seen various forecasts recently that suggest that by 2016 (yes, that's just over 3 years) CMOs will control more IT budget than CTOs/CIOs.  Right now that feels a stretch.

How do organisations marry us  savvy, commercial digerati who might not be formally IT trained but tend to have geeky leanings with the IT nerds to make that shift happen?  I can see the opportunity but not the organisations open to investing in talent with fuzzy edged remits and questioning minds.

There's a a whole bunch of talented, intelligent, creative people around looking for opportunities to make a real difference to organisations that are ready to be challenged.

The definition of insanity is oft quoted to be doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results, so why are so many businesses just tinkering around the edges? Madness.

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