what is digital first?

23/02/2014 Leave a comment
I quite often ask Marketing Academy mentors for their perspective on my transformation work and many zoned in on the phrase ‘digital first’. It’s also cropped up during the recent progress review at work, and in other contexts like talking to people with Gov career histories.
There are a few interpretations and uses:
  • Digital first is a mantra that has helped focus organisations on early change journeys.
  • Digital first in marketing terms is about integration of channels and consumer journeys.
  • Digital first in business terms is about innovation and new business processes, models & products built on the backbone of new technology and new behaviours.
  • Digital first is not digital only. It is digital by default i.e. Digital as the first execution of an idea / process.
  • Digital first is audience first in a world where most audiences are digital by default.
What’s consistent is that the phrase can cause confusion at times, and at its worst it can scare technology sensitive individuals and can stop their change journey as suddenly as a brick wall.

any tips on managing change?

23/01/2014 Leave a comment

Not too long ago a couple of people asked me the same question only a week apart; Any tips on managing change? It’s just occurred to me that when I started this blog I promised to post when a topic seemed to be popular. So here we go, this is what I said…

I can tell you change management its hard, frequently unrewarding during the journey, and sometimes you lose clarity on why you started in the first place. But after the ‘event’ its hugely rewarding when you see the final outcome and see people who genuinely want to be there naturally forming a team without you having to force them to.

There will be some people who don’t ever go past the point of acceptance and the best thing you can do, once you’ve helped them knock down as many barriers as is feasible (see the human change curve as something helpful in conversations), is to help them to see if there are other roles or organisations that are a better fit for what they want.

There are lots of very useful resources out there – here’s a couple I think are useful:

What is your experience? what would you have said? 

the difference of thinking in platforms

30/11/2013 2 comments

Mozfest_10Nov_018A little while ago I was lucky enough to attend my first, but hopefully not last, Mozfest. I didn’t entirely know what to expect apart from lots of ‘open web’ information and ideas. The timetable wasn’t released until the day before and it was live updated through the entire weekend. It was a great mix of structured and unconference.

I got practical tasters of lots of topics including making your first web app, creating your own maps, and hacking a mobile html5 game.

Quite a bit of my time was spent working with a team assembled on the first day on a project to simplify mobile giving. I won’t describe the final output as there’s a great blog post about Pass the App here. What I wanted to share is the striking difference it made by considering the problem from a platform perspective.

Thinking from a platform perspective really focuses you on the purpose and key features you need. A platform isn’t (primarily) a perfectly designed end consumer product in itself – it’s a tool that others can use to build their own version of something. This gives you an objectivity that quite often gets lost in projects where you’re building the finished public facing website or app.

I found focusing on empowering others through a platform is hugely empowering in itself!


As an aside: I also spoke to SourceFabric about why I was at Mozfest from UNICEF UK. Excuse the Ummms.

social media week – barcampnfp workshop

29/09/2013 Leave a comment

SMW barcampnfp 2013

This week we held a barcampnfp workshop as part of Social Media Week. A group of around 50 people from across the non-profit sector and digital industry came together to work out the next big things for doing good using social media.

We came up with a ton of good, bad and ugly examples of social for good campaigns. I particularly remember this campaign by Refuge which featured a beauty blogger highlighting domestic abuse and the Trial by timeline example from Amnesty.

Moving on from the shared inspiration we started to hive mind ideas for how to achieve real world impact using social media – putting aside any silos that might currently exist. Naturally, we could have carried on for much longer… but here’s a few of the things we came up with.

Plus here’s a storify of the day.

digital transformation in action

22/09/2013 Leave a comment

For the last two years I’ve been leading UNICEF UK on a journey to become digital first, something the org committed to in 2010/2011 as part of the 5 year strategic plan.

I’ve spoken and written about our digital transformation journey a few times. I’ve also chatted to a few people from different charities who are considering their own journey. When I’m asked what my top tips are I typically highlight two things:

Don’t underestimate your own preciousness

You need to empower everyone to use digital channels and ways of working, letting some mistakes happen or project timings extend. Letting go can be hard if you’re used to being the direct deliverer with a level of specialism that has taken years to acquire. It can also be hard for an organisation to take a possible hit on quantity and/or quality while the learning curve takes over.

You just have to let go – letting others learn through doing is critical for change to happen.

Be prepared to sacrifice short-term wins for long-term gain

Transformation is a long journey – this is often at odds with the usual character type in digital. We’re enticed by the almost overwhelming industry speed and we tend to see new opportunities and quick wins everywhere. I’m sure I could spend my entire time bringing great results through fixing and activating new things.

You need to focus on getting the long-term infrastructure (tools, skills and behaviours) in place. This isn’t the kind of stuff that shows immediate results and with finite resources you have to make a choice.


Now we’re a couple of years into our journey we’re taking a hard look at how far we’ve gone and what the next phase is. If you have 10 mins please take our survey.

Watch this space …

technology for development – Guardian Activate 2013

09/07/2013 Leave a comment

Panel Guardian Activate 2013Today I was inspired once again to hear how technology is being used to change the world.

Yes – smart glasses are what many are talking about. They may still be a little bit glitchy and gimmicky but Pebble has already shown our appetite for wearable screens.

However that’s not where big change is expected next year. We still have far to go to understand and apply the full potential of mobile with cloud tech.

That’s why it’s so exciting …

My storify summary from Guardian Activate can be found here.

UNICEF UK mobile and digital talk at Institute of Fundraising convention

01/07/2013 Leave a comment

I spoke at the IOF National Convention today. If you missed it and are interested – here’s the slides and there’s also a storify one of the audience put together. Note: I’m not responsible for typos in the storify ;)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 84 other followers

%d bloggers like this: