Remember, as a leader, you’re more than likely a ‘Digital Immigrant’

The first of a short series of blogs on one CEO’s journey to discover his inner-geek.


The first of a short series of blogs on one CEO’s journey to discover his inner-geek.

As much as I might like to think I’m a ‘Digital Native’, it is genetically quite difficult. Like many UK big business leaders, because of when I was born, nothing digital comes naturally to me, it’s all learned behaviour.

And I think this is a problem for UK plc; companies can be held back by ‘Digital Immigrant’ leaders because we don’t just understand, and sometimes we don’t want or try to understand, what we need to do to win in an increasingly digital-first world.

And how does this manifest itself? Take marketing as an example. Many businesses find it impossible to tear themselves away from their ‘tried and tested’ traditional marketing activity, despite it delivering ever-diminishing returns, because it is what they know, it is a place they feel safe in.

I’ve just spent two more days climbing the digital ladder, on an education course focusing specifically on digital marketing. Why? Because when you are a Digital Immigrant like me, the best thing you can do is immerse yourself in the culture of the new world you live in. You might not understand it - lots of concepts/processes/words were and still are unintelligible to me - but if you can’t speak the language then you’ll never move forward.

On this course, there were three other things I learned:

Build a digital strategy that supports your business strategy.

The place to start for your digital strategy is your business strategy. Blindingly obvious I know but this isn’t work for the sake of it, it has to be integrated and drive towards an outcome. But most of all...have a strategy.

Employ ‘Digital Natives’ and trust them

Just because you don’t get it, doesn’t mean it’s wrong or it isn’t something you should do. So as well as immersing yourself in the language and culture, you need to get Digital Natives on your team because being a leader is knowing you can’t do everything yourself. Amongst others at HomeServe, we have Laura Rudd - our ‘new-ish’ SEO and Content expert, who has 16+ years experience at digital agencies and up until recently, as a freelance digital consultant. Laura was on the course with me and she just gets it.

Follow and use the data

I’ll be honest, targeting on FaceBook ads and the insight from Google Analytics had me buzzing. It is MI intensified, and I speak as someone who has lived and breathed MI for as long a I can remember. In the digital world, it is all there for you. Make sure you use it to inform and drive rather than just verify and sense-check.

So those are my building blocks - build a strategy that supports business goals, employ Digital Natives and get the best out of the data. Above all, try to learn the language - it'll make a real difference.

More on this to come!