digital capabilities and attitudes by age and region

This week I attended the launch of Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index. There are some fascinating findings related to financial capability and its link to digital skills. But the two things that stood out as more broadly useful were prompted by questions from the audience:

What are we doing to improve digital capabilities across the UK?

I’ve always been conscious of regional variances in digital capability but the study data appears show that’s its not a major issue anymore. Instead we have to dig deeper into the factors involved in creating inclusive digital services. Poor user experiences and communications were two of the areas flagged by Martha Lane Fox and the other panel members as barriers to digital skill adoption.

Regional digital skills and financial skills: LBG Consumer Digital Index

What are we doing to enable older generation to access digital services?

This was a little more contentious as the panel called for a focus on those that will engage rather than sinking time into those that will never engage within their lifetime. The panel were driven by the finding that there are hard to move negative views among non-adopters such as some over 60s. With digitally excluded groups a more effective approach suggested is to work with the network of individuals around them to provide indirect access to digital services.

Attitudes to digital amongst over 60s: LBG Consumer Digital Index


should you always show a donate button?

In a recent strategy session I was leading with a charity we hit upon a debate the team had been having for the last few months of thinking about their new website; should the donate button always be on?

The fundraiser at the charity had shared some study or other (I’ve asked for details – please comment if you know them) which said a donate button on your home page and header wasn’t a good idea and actually put off visitors rather than allowing time to build engagement before making an ask.

Cutting to the chase; I disagreed.

A clear ‘always on’ donate button is like a steering wheel in a car, it’s an expected part of the furniture your visitor needs to see to know they’re in the right place (a charity website) and to get involved if they want to.

With every part of your website now a potential homepage, because any user could land anywhere on your site from a search, you need to ensure there’s something that clearly communicates what you are and a donate button is a good shortcut – a badge for charities.

If you’re a heavily service orientated charity you should of course consider the weighting of the ‘call to asks’ across your site. Focusing on servicing the people you’re there to help is critical, without question, but like all things in life – awareness comes before action.




creating success according to google

This weekend I spotted this great presentation in my twitter stream. While Google has got a few dark sides the key messages in this slide deck really struck a chord with me and I wanted to spread the word.

The greatest asset of any organising structure (be it a project, team or whole organisation) is a clear vision and shared values, plus great people empowered to get on with things. I’ve noticed this has been a key ingredient in all of the best projects and teams I’ve been lucky enough to work with.

why aren’t there more charity start-ups?

Last night Nesta held an event examining this very topic. As usual there was some great content from Mary McKenna who has been working with Vinspired on Tasksquad.

Tasksquad is a rarity – one of very few charity founded startups, at least to my knowledge. Yet I feel there are so many factors that should make charities fertile ground for entrepreneurial action;

  • goodwill support,
  • often more forgiving audiences (if you fail for the right reasons)
  • and a wealth of expertise in real social issues.

Here’s a storify from the Nesta charity digital innovation event on what everyone had to say about why it’s rare.

what’s changed in digital over the years?

This is a rather belated post promised to Amy the other day. She promised me it wasn’t a sneaky way to work out my age!

What has changed?

I’ve worked in digital for my whole career and a lot has changed in that time.

In the past 12 months there have been a few moments that have left me practically punching the air with glee because they’ve signalled the non-profit sector is finally maturing its approach to digital. To name a couple; when the opening plenary of the Institute of Fundraising Convention started with a speech about embracing digital in fundraising. The other being when I heard the change of title of the digital lead at a couple of major charities from Head to Director – a much truer recognition of the roles as they’ve been for some time.


From web monkey to specialist advisor

I can remember a time when there were only web officers. Expected to mostly put pdf’s on the website with little to no notice, that’s if people remembered the website was there at all. Now digital has a seat at the strategy and planning table in many organisations – at the very least at a project level.

From custom build to on-demand tools

Updating the website was a thing that only the web monkey knew how to do. It was all a bit techy and there was this complicated hmtl or something. Now we’ve got content management systems and other tools that everyone can use and, in some cases, that dynamically personalise the content, journey and more to the user. This was the stuff of Tommorrow’s World not too long ago.

From under the carpet to KPI

You were glad if you got a few hundred hits (yes – hits!) and quietly shared this with any geeky friends. Then perhaps you started to email and post up your top line web stats probably to an almost deafening silence of no return comments or questions. Now digital stats are part of the report to board members – Marks & Spencer even had its ecommerce stats reported in press.


I could go on I’m sure – but that’s another thing that’s changed, we’ve all got shorter attention spans 🙂

what is digital first?

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.

digital transformation in action

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 …

UNICEF UK mobile and digital talk at Institute of Fundraising convention

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 😉

the future of digital jobs

chart courtesy of Propel LondonDiscussing digital transformation often ends with the inevitable question… what happens to the digital roles (your job!) when the transformation is finished?

I’ve written about whether digital team’s will continue to exist before so I won’t go into detail again. But recently I spotted this salary benchmarking report by Propel which I thought gives some useful insights.

I particularly like the chart about new vacancies by role type. What this data makes me think is:

  • there’s more growth in digital marketing roles than ‘back office’ tech and services.
  • specific digital strategy roles are perhaps being subsumed into overall strategy roles.
  • technology is more consumerised and development is getting slightly ‘easier’ to do and project manage with less-specialist roles.

What does it make you think?

digital team structures – hub and spoke or dandelion?

Dandelion modelI first wrote about the hub and spoke model back in summer 2011. Since then I’ve talked to a lot of people about it.

I’m a raving advocate for the model. The cultural changes needed to realise the benefits of digital are only really possible through an integrated approach driven from a single focal point. This is why I’ve often pondered how this model could work at a global scale for an organisation.

Local autonomy is important. I’ve been one of those ‘HQ people’ working with local offices, and now I am part of a ‘local office’ in a global organisation. So I know how important a certain level of independence is. Without this you can’t adapt to local market or community needs, innovation and motivation is stifled, and you risk not being able to capitalise on local opportunities.

Dandelions might just be the answer I was looking for. Jeremiah Owyang posted about social business models recently and described this model as:

Multiple hub & spoke “Dandelion” notice how each business unit may have semi-autonomy with an over arching tie back to a central group.

Reflecting on this – I recognise this model from my current and past workplaces – it’s nothing new. Yet it’s strange how giving a name to something means you can examine and discuss it more easily. Examining it leaves me agreeing with the points Jeremiah makes and adding a few of my own;

  • too much internal comms = noise; but an internal social network delivers the power of discovery and self-filtering.
  • decentralised cross- team working is critical; but it’s tricky for central hubs to empower and be sufficiently in the loop to add value.
  • focus on the bright spots; understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each hub gives strategic opportunities for spreading learning.
  • apples and pears aren’t the same; a common language and frame of reference (eg terminology) makes it easier to identify and share insights.
  • sharing needs to be incentivised; to motivate teams to share it needs to return local results or at least recognition.
  • people trust people; there’s nothing like face to face to build trust and communication, with video meetings there’s no excuse.