Privacy and data protection regulations impact the work of every advertising, marketing and PR communications professional around the globe, and the focus on privacy by consumers and regulators continues to increase. W2O’s team is tracking the most important news and changes that directly influence our industry, including the latest on legislation, new privacy technology, enforcement actions, analysis and thought leadership in privacy and data protection.

Here’s the news we’re paying attention to right now.

  1. German Data Protection Authorities Create Fine Model – The German Datenschutzkonferenz (DSK), Germany’s joint data protection body, recently released a new model for calculating fines associated with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The model is quite complex, with 24 pages of official explanation, and is likely to result in more frequent large fines near the top end of GDPR limits.

    Main Takeaway – While it is not yet clear if the high fines under the DSK model will be considered proportionate, large corporations that process large quantities of data – and particularly those that process sensitive data – should ensure their data protection and breach response programs are as robust and complete as possible.

2. Google Moves to Acquire FitBit, Raising Privacy Issues – Google’s multi-billion-dollar acquisition of FitBit will give it access to a variety of new personal health information. Google has stated it will not use Fitbit data for targeting ads, and privacy advocates are expressing concerns that the data could be used for other purposes. This acquisition will also likely increase federal and state regulators’ scrutiny of Alphabet for potential antitrust violations.

Main TakeawayGoogle has caused numerous privacy concerns over the last decade, due to excessive tracking and exposed data, which has eroded consumer trust. Brands that embrace data privacy and protection principles are building trust and getting ahead of their competitors. Marketers should consider data privacy a fundamental component of their key value proposition.

3. Another Federal Privacy Bill Proposed – A new federal privacy bill proposal from two California House Representatives would lead to the creation of a new Digital Privacy Agency to enforce rights. The bill, in some ways similar to the GDPR, would give consumers rights of access, correction and deletion. It would also prohibit the use of third-party data to reidentify individuals, and bar the use of “private communications” such as email contents and web traffic for advertising.

Main Takeaway – Multiple federal bills from both sides of the aisle have been proposed recently to consolidate existing federal laws and override the burgeoning number of different state laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act, but none have proceeded beyond the proposal stage. Brands and marketers should be prepared to deal with a patchwork of state-level privacy laws until federal legislation is passed.

* The opinions expressed in this post do not constitute or represent legal advice. No liability is accepted by the authors or W2O for any action taken or not taken based on the information or any associated communications.

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Analytics pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

Read More

W2O recently hosted our second annual, Marketing Science Summit. The purpose of this event is fairly straightforward: to create a space for pioneers in the market research, social analytics and digital marketing fields to share the latest trends in marketing science, with a focus on the healthcare and tech industries.

From leveraging to data to the evolution of AI, there were plenty of key learnings from this year’s summit. I summed up the five that stood out to me below.

1. In healthcare, we’re dealing with data that isn’t really clean, nor does it connect easily.

Liz DeMatteis, Chief Marketing Officer, Aetion made a great point about this notion. She highlighted that the quest should not be perfect data, but rather the perfect understanding of the imperfections of the data. Imperfect data can still be used to fuel effective decision making

2. There have been significant advancements in Artificial Intelligence over the past decade.

From robotics to voice recognition, AI has continued to rapidly develop according to Tom Mitchell, E. Fredkin University Professor of Machine Learning and Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. What we always wonder about is whether or not those advancements will slow? The reality is that the advancements in machine learning and AI are only going to accelerate the continued innovation in these areas.

3. Digital data can be used effectively to understand physician behaviors.

We can all agree that digital and social information serves as a really effective data source. However, in order to truly understand physician behavior, we need to triangulate multiple data sources. Audun Utengen, Chief Executive Officer of Symplur noted, it’s important that we don’t overly rely on a single source of data when we’re making decisions.

4. Usage and data collection is still in its infancy.

We still have varying stages of maturity with data, the data doesn’t always connect very easily. Additionally, we consistently are getting more and more data, there are new decisions that can be made with the data, there is new legislation and other key factors. Once we solve one potential issue another pops up, so it’s important we work together to solve these challenges.

H/T: Joerg Corsten, Global Medical Information Leader of Roche

5. Data can fuel creativity.

We at W2O talk a lot about following the data to get to the point. While we advocate and practice for data driven creativity, one point that’s worth accentuating is that data is a guide, it isn’t a vice. Thank you Ellen Gerstein, Director of Digital Content, Pfizer and Mary Michael, Vice President, Patient Advocacy and Stakeholder Management of Otsuka, for highlighting that point.

That’s a wrap for the 2019 Marketing Science Summit! Thank you to our speakers and attendees for making this event a success, we look forward to seeing you next year.

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Analytics pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

Read More

Contributions by Kathrin Harhoff

When it comes to digital maturity, there is no more reassuring concept than a well-conceived roadmap. Roadmaps are designed to bring clarity to an inherently uncertain process. A roadmap also suggests a specific destination, but, as we’ve already discussed in the first section of this series, digital maturity is an ongoing process.  

In practice, a roadmap can be very different. Often a grand vision is presented to senior leadership as a roadmap, leaving the team on a path forward that is difficult to negotiate. Conversely, a roadmap can become overrun with minutia to the point where it’s unreadable and susceptible to the smallest pivot. 

We advise clients on drafting a roadmap that is clear enough to communicate the vision of digital maturity, but flexible enough to hold up to any changes in environment, priority, or technology.   

1. Start with Goals, Strategic Initiatives, and Tactics

In last week’s section of this series, we discussed how to set up goals. Conveniently, these goals, strategic initiatives (SI), and tactics will inform your roadmap directly. Start by laying out your high-level goals and prioritizing them. Assign SI to the goals they support. If you do not think your current set of SI will complete your prioritized goal, don’t worry, you’ll have an opportunity to add more in later. Here is an example of what one digital maturity goal might look like.  

Goal 1. Move approval process from paper to digital  

SI 1Complete RFP of digital approval vendors 

SI 2Onboard vendors 

SI 3Pilot with one department 

SI 4Roll out 

2. Create a Backlog

You may hear a backlog referred to in different ways, but the general idea is that you need a place to store ideas that are not fully formedYou’ll regularly go back to the backlog and flesh out these conceptsTo put meat to the bones of these ideas, you will need the major stakeholders and the people executing the digital maturity to work in one room. We often see that these sessions can contain a lot of back and forth, but the end result is an entire team that has a single vision of the path forward. Once this is achieved, these new items can be inserted into the roadmap. 

3. Be Flexible

The number one mistake when constructing a roadmap is locking a team into a year’s worth of work that is likely to change in three months time. To avoid this, make sure to align the specificity of the roadmap item with the timing of its execution. In the example above, the high-level goal of “Move approval process from paper to digital” can be scoped out to twelve or eighteen months. However, specific tasks under any of the SI, for example, “Open ticket with IT” will only be brought into the roadmap weeks in advance. The result will be constant goals with SI that span a few months and tasks that quickly come into the roadmap before they are completed.  

4. Socialize with Frequent Updates

Once the roadmap is in good shape, it should be socialized with management to gain alignment. Additionally, we often work with clients to use roadmap socialization as an opportunity to gain excitement with other internal stakeholders. Because the roadmap is updated frequently, it should also be shared on a regular basisusually quarterlyto show how the digital maturity journey is evolving. In this way, the roadmap becomes not only the path forward for the team(s) involved in digital maturity efforts, but also the main socialization vehicle.   

Key Takeaways:

  • Formulate a clear plan that is flexible enough to tolerate any unforeseen changes. 
  • Establish goals, strategic initiatives, and tactics. 
  • Create a backlog of underdeveloped ideas that can be revisited and enhanced. 
  • Frequently share updates with interested parties.  

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Digital pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

Read More

If you were to ask a marketer or a communicator today to define their role you might likely hear one or all of the following responses:

My job is to protect the reputation of the company.

The primary function of marketing and communications is to build the brand

It is very important that we focus marketing and communications on generating sales

It’s all digital.  So, we must conflate several roles when it comes to translating data into insight to better connect with customers

Obviously, there are several variations within each of those statements, but if we were to simplify it even further the traditional role of marketing and communications is to protect the reputation of the company, build the brand and grow the business. This has been the case for decades, even as the number of channels they use in order to do those three things has proliferated at an incredible rate of speed.

But that was yesterday.  In 2019, the world is officially digital.  Customers and employees direct the relationship. As such, reputation, while important, is no longer the measure of organizational sustainability.

One of the reasons is that channels have grown exponentially. It is not hyperbole to say that digital media (in all formats) has fundamentally changed how we reach our customers. Not only that, it has fundamentally disrupted business model after business model. In the last 15 years, 52% of companies listed on the S&P 500 have disappeared. It is predicted that, by 2027, 75% of those companies currently listed will also disappear. One would imagine the companies that have disappeared had marketers and communicators focusing on protecting reputation, building the business and the brand, right?

So, if that’s the case, why are they no longer in business?

It’s our perspective that in a social/digital world companies that are not connecting or engaging with customers, consumers, employees meaning they lost relevance with the people who could shape the brand and move the business. As digital consumers, which is almost all of us these days, we know we are constantly bombarded with content from all sorts of companies. Keeping track of it all is next to impossible, unless what those companies are delivering to you is relevant to your interests. The companies that maintain a high level of relevance with their key stakeholders are constantly mindful of closing the gap between what they want to say and what their stakeholders want to hear.

As part of this year’s Chicago Ideas Week, we wanted to further explore this concept with two companies, Horizon Therapeutics and Walgreens, that excelled in driving relevancy with its key stakeholders. Representing these two companies were Kelly Rothschild Jansen, Director of Corporate Communications & Content Strategy for Horizon, and Suzanne Barston, Director of Digital Communications and Corporate Storytelling for Walgreens. During the session, both shared their perspectives on how each of their organizations is driving relevancy and gave tangible tips for other companies who may be just starting their relevance journey.

While it’s always difficult to distill a 60-minute presentation down to a few takeaways, there were three key themes from Suzanne and Kelly that bubbled to the surface:

Suzanne’s Key Takeaways:

  1. In order to be relevant to key stakeholders, organizations need to let of the things that could go wrong. If you are waiting for the perfect moment, you are likely missing an opportunity to test and learn what your stakeholders find relevant.
  2. Driving relevancy is about understanding the data, specifically understanding what your organization is putting out into the market versus what your stakeholders want to hear.
  3. For companies that are looking to be more relevant, it’s about identifying the intersection between reputation and relevance.

Kelly’s Key Takeaways: 

  1. When we think about driving corporate relevancy, the critical things that matter are authenticity, connection and storytelling.
  2. Organizations need to be thinking about relevance as a journey. Things like creative, bold and compelling storytelling take time to develop.
  3. If there were one key to driving to driving relevance it would be telling stories.

Walgreens and Horizon are two organizations that really understand what it takes to be relevant. If your organization is just starting its relevance journey, you would be well-served to connect with Kelly and Suzanne to get their tips!

Want to learn more about W2O? Check out our About page and Service page.

Read More

Privacy and data protection regulations impact the work of every advertising, marketing and PR communications professional around the globe, and the focus on privacy by consumers and regulators continues to increase. W2O’s team is tracking the most important news and changes that directly influence our industry, including the latest on legislation, new privacy technology, enforcement actions, analysis and thought leadership in privacy and data protection. 

Here’s the news we’re paying attention to right now.  

  1. California AG Releases Proposed CCPA Regulations 

The California Attorney General has released proposed regulations for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The AG will now hold a series of public hearings to hear statements and comments, and has indicated that final rules are not expected until the spring of 2020, with enforcement beginning July 1, 2020. The regulations cover new notice requirements, deadlines for dealing with requests and more.

Main Takeaway  While the regulations are not yet final, brands should be taking action to prepare for compliance now, starting with a full audit and creation of a data map along with a review of vendor agreements and the development of operational privacy processes. While many organizations do not yet have a robust privacy practice, studies are already showing that those who embrace privacy will be ahead of their competitors.

2. Senator Ron Wyden Proposes Data Privacy Bill

While there have been a few attempts at a federal privacy law in congress this year, few have garnered much attention – until October 17th when Senator Ron Wyden, a democrat from Oregon, proposed legislation called the “Mind Your Business Act”. It is an update to a proposal Wyden made last November, and is partially a reaction to the FTC’s $5 billion Facebook fine, which many considered a slap on the wrist. This new proposal now includes a 4% of annual revenue fine, similar to the Europe’s GDPR, and include 10 to 20 years in prison for senior executives.

Main TakeawayWhile Tech and other industries have lobbied congress for (somewhat lax) federal privacy legislation, proposals like Wyden’s are getting more and more punitive, rather than less. While it may still be some time before a federal law comes into force, the court of public opinion is becoming ever more strongly in favor of privacy protection. Brands who choose to invest in privacy are clearly seeing business benefits as a result.

3. European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) Findings Indicate Microsoft not in Compliance with GDPR

The EDPS, which monitors the processing of personal data in European institutions in cooperation with country-level data protection authorities (DPAs), released initial findings this week from an investigation into Microsoft. “Though the investigation is still ongoing, preliminary results reveal serious concerns over compliance of the relevant contractual terms with data protection rules and the role of Microsoft as a processor for EU institutions using its products and services. The investigation began in November 2018, the Netherlands DPA claimed that over 25,000 events with personally identifiable information were recorded by Office 365 and sent to Microsoft servers.

Main Takeaway Regulators across Europe are starting to hand out larger fines. Organizations both large and small that have not done so should be developing robust data privacy programs that not only reduce the risk of non-compliance, but also acts as a key competitive differentiator. 

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Analytics pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

Read More

Contributions by Kathrin Harhoff

This is part four in our seven-part series on digital maturity. If you’d like to start from the beginning, find the first article here. 

Goals are often one of the most talked about, and least defined, topics within any organization. When it comes to digital maturity, goals can be an even more nebulous concept than in many other areas of the business. This is because digital maturity itself is often difficult to define. While there are many frameworks for establishing goals, our experience has been that a simple Goals, Strategies, and Tactics (GoST) framework is the most efficient and effective.  

Goal Setting and Strategies 

In this framework, a team starts with one or two highlevel goals. In the case of digital maturity, this could be something like, transition department to omni-channel marketing.” Goals should be ambitious but achievable, well defined, and measurable. Each goal should have a rough timeline of about a year to accomplish. If goals take longer than a year, they should be re-confirmed annually and aligned with all stakeholders.  

Strategies are large initiatives that directly support the defined goals. They should encompass an entire deliverable that is independent of other initiatives. An example of strategies could be implement a training program for new marketing software.” These strategic initiatives (SI) should provide value in and of themselves but also combine with other SI to contribute more broadly to digital maturity. They should take anywhere from three months to one year and be aligned by stakeholders who are directly impacted.  

The Importance of Tactics 

Tactics are the individual actions that support each SIThey should:  

  • Be well defined in terms of ownership, timeline, and success criteria.  
  • Be assigned to individual team members and, when taken together, they complete the SI. Examples of tactics are map consumer journey or finalize creative assets.”  
  • Have a timeline that is no longer than a month.  
  • Be aligned by the stakeholders of the SI they support. 

Many times, organizations have multiple existing goals, strategies, and tactics in place by the time they start on their digital maturity journey. Our suggestion is to plug these items into the GoST framework and see how/if they support your organizations digital ambitions. Next, work with the entire stakeholder team to modify and/or replace items that do not help progress digital maturity. Lastly, fill in all goals, SI, and tactics for the next twelve months. We find that guiding clients through a workshop is the most efficient way to complete this process.  

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Digital pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

Read More

Contributions by Kathrin Harhoff

This is part three in our seven-part series on digital maturity. If you’d like to start from the beginning, find the first article here. 

Just like individuals, all teams have strengths and weaknesses. These can be pretty apparent when it comes to day-to-day responsibilities. However, strengths and weaknesses are less apparent when starting a digital maturity effort.  

To address this, we recommend teams complete a skills assessmentwhich is a quick and easy exercise to gain a collective view of a team’s competencies as well as skill gaps. The purpose of this exercise is not to point out any one team member’s deficiencies but rather to ensure the team collectively has the skills and expertise needed to execute digital maturity initiatives. 

Step 1: Identify Skills Needed 

First, teams need to take an inventory of what skills will be needed in their digital maturity efforts. Every situation will require slightly different expertise. However, a core set of capabilities are required for almost every teamwe recommend the following skill areas: 

  • Knowledge of existing (legacy) systems 
  • Marketing tool knowledge 
  • Collaboration tool knowledge 
  • Analytics expertise 
  • Finance expertise 
  • UI/UX expertise 
  • Marketing expertise 
  • Project management expertise 

Step 2: Team Survey 

After identifying the most critical set of skills, a survey needs to be conducted for each team member to assess their own proficiency with regard to each. This survey should contain clear and detailed descriptions of both the skills and the ratings for each.  

Step 3: Identify Strengths and Weaknesses 

After the survey is complete, a clear view of strengths and weaknesses will come to light. In the hypothetical example below, the team is strong in many areas but needs improvement in skills 7 and 8. 

Step 4: Address Gaps 

There are multiple options to address skills gaps; we break them down into three basic categoriesTrain, Hire, Outsource. Which path to take largely depends on two thingshow quickly does the skill gap need to be filled and how specialized is the lacking skill. 

Training existing team members has the clear benefit of costing much less than other options. It’s also important to realize that training team members on new skills will increase employee engagement and lower attrition. However, training also requires a lot of time that may leave a particular skill unaddressed for too long. Further, some skills are so specialized that it is impractical to train someone from scratch.  

Hiring new team members can not only close a skill gap, but can also increase the performance of the overall team. However, hiring can be a long process, especially when looking for a specialized skill set.  

Outsourcing skills to an agency, consultancy, or contractors is not always favored because it can be less costeffective than training. However, outsourcing has the benefit of closing skills gaps nearly immediately and allows companies to utilize experts in specialized fields. Oftentimes W2O is hired by our clients to fill gaps in communications, marketing, or analytic functions. Further, we focus on knowledge transfer to our clients in order to ensure benefits well into the future. 

A helpful framework for deciding whether to train, hire, or outsource can be seen below: 

Filling these skills gaps is a critical first step to any digital maturity journey as it allows the team to be agile when address changing technology and business needs. Further, when team members transfer out of the team, using a skills assessment will make obvious what skills are needed from the incoming replacement. Much like the concept of digital maturity itself, the overall skill profile of a team is constant evolving and the skills assessment is the tool to ensure critical functions are always being met. 

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Digital pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

Read More

Ready or not, here it comes. The transformative potential of data and marketing science has reached the healthcare industry and – according to what we learnt at our EMEA Marketing Science Summit in Zurich last Wednesday – we’d better shape up.

“Digital integration is the number one priority in healthcare,” came the resounding pronouncement from our keynote speaker, Dr Jamil El-Imad, Chief Scientist at It’s a sentiment that we certainly believe in.

So, in that light, what can take away from our 2019 Summit? Here are five key learnings.

  1. Connecting the Data Dots

Yes, data sources in the healthcare industry are siloed even within organizations, but that shouldn’t limit what you can achieve. Take these two innovative examples discussed at the event:

The trailblazing Swiss Brain Data Bank (SBDB) is accelerating scientific progress by enabling researchers to collaborate across digital databanks to improve diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders.

VirtaMed is transforming medical education with ‘flight simulators’ for surgeons. These simulators allow surgeons to train in a controlled, virtual environment and receive data-evidenced performance feedback. 

  1. Measure Selectively and Manage Expectations

With so much data, it’s tempting to ‘measure everything’. But this can be hugely counterproductive: it’s best to focus on actions and outcomes. Take these learnings from sport, for instance. Mo Wootten, a Sport Intelligence Analyst at UK Sports, discussed what they found from collecting sleep data. Not only was it not always useful to athletes, who already know if they don’t sleep as well before a major competition, but for some people it can be detrimental and a source of anxiety.

Jörg Corsten, Digital Medical Engagement Principal at Roche, warned against exaggerated expectations of AI and machine learning, reminding us that “we don’t have a general AI –nowhere we can just put in all the data and out comes the right answer.” Put another way, AI today resembles Siri – good at solving task-based problems – rather than HAL, the sentient AI from 2001: Space Odyssey.

  1. Acknowledge Your Bias

Our experiences and beliefs create unconscious biases, which, in turn, shape the way we see the world. We need to remain alert to potential bias in our datasets: metrics, tools and algorithms are created by people, so are vulnerable to the same foibles and biases that affect us.

Mo Wootten shared an example from the US criminal justice system, which integrates data models to predict the likelihood of re-offending. Tellingly, the algorithms used were shown to be racially biased.

The (big) data we have access to today can help us mitigate both problems: by triangulating from different data sources and perspectives – and consciously acknowledging our own cognitive biases – we can arrive at powerful insights.

  1. Blend Data and Storytelling – but Keep it Simple

Data-driven storytelling has the power to cut through information overload. Underpinning our stories with the right data creates relevance, but it is no easy feat. As Sam Knowles, Founder and Managing Director of Insight Agents, put it: “meaningfully bringing together the fire-and-ice worlds of storytelling, data and science is an art form.”

During the summit, Knowles shared his rules for compelling, data-driven storytelling as outlined in his book Narrative by Numbers. He highlighted that it is the combination of narrative skill and intelligent interrogation of data sources that creates real impact and, ultimately, influence.

So how do we do this? By keeping our story simple, being selective with our data and tapping into emotion.

  1. Get Ready for What’s Next

Digital data is increasingly fundamental to healthcare decision-making. In medical training, for instance, some European countries already embed digital performance data generated by virtual practical tests into certification and continuous education.

But not everyone is ready to embrace our data-rich environment. For some, the integration of real-world data helps to optimise healthcare (e.g. in disease registries) but others perceive it as challenging ‘clean’ (and controllable) clinical trial data.

Data privacy is not going to go away. Leaders in our field will be those who see the upside, rather than the challenge. There is an opportunity cost of doing nothing and falling behind.

Thinking this way, we may then find there are digital solutions already doing things that seem at first impossible, like reading facial expressions without compromising anonymity and data protection. This kind of solution already exists: it is used by the SBDB to conform with data privacy legislation while enabling ground-breaking, collaborative research at scale.

The 2019 Zurich Summit illustrated that it will take creativity and courage to make the most of our data-rich environment. It is when human brains and digital data connect to tell meaningful stories that strategy-changing insights can be unlocked. As one speaker noted, “data is a servant to decision-making, it should never be the master”.

Read More

Contributions by Matthew O’Rourke

This is part two in our seven-part series on digital maturity. If you’d like to start reading from the beginning, you can find the first article here.

Digital maturity starts and ends with people. It is an ongoing change process that requires fluidity. Ideally, this is driven by the culture and leadership of an organization. Both aspects create an environment for digital initiatives to thrive. However, we find ourselves in structures that are hesitant to change, and, in many companies, it is still more accepted to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally. So how do we achieve digital maturity in organizations that are hesitant to change?

In our experience, making digital maturity a reality often comes down to influential and well-connected change agents who are open to innovation and continuously plant ideas and initiatives across the company. The people who are accelerating in digital don’t hesitate to take risks, launch pilots and share their learnings with the rest of the organization (even if they weren’t successful).

We’ve seen change agents in a variety of roles and functions – from human resources to procurement and in some instances even among legal, regulatory and medical teams. They are crucial in driving digital innovation. Typically, we find change agents as part of the following w stakeholder groups with varying levels of digital maturity and influence:

  • Internal business stakeholders, such as brand or marketing teams, who have a specific business need or objective, which digital initiatives aim to address.
  • Digital Center of Excellence (DCoE), such as digital planners or managers, who support business stakeholders as experts in planning and executing digital initiatives.
  • External partners, such as agencies or consultancies, which bring high levels of specific expertise and knowledge to digital initiatives.

Roles and Level of Digital Maturity

While business stakeholders have a very strong understanding of a specific brand, category and business need, their experience with digital processes, platforms and functionalities can be limited. It’s not their job to be experts in the latest technological developments, but, rather, to focus on what is most beneficial to the brand and the business. They are often the owner of the initiative, budget holder and ultimate decision maker.

Members of the DCoE are able to bring together a solid understanding of the business needs with a broad understanding of digital platforms and channels. This enables them to enter each engagement with an internal perspective to assess the need for the given situation and the external knowledge of potential digital solutions. Their role includes defining the brief for the digital initiative and supporting the execution or helping select the right partner for execution. They are digital consultants to the business stakeholders and can share learnings across the organization.

External partners, such as agencies, are typically engaged for a specific area of expertise. If there is one key success factor in engaging these external partners, it’s to set clear expectations. Be transparent about why you are bringing in the external partner (do they provide a capability, experience or resource you’re lacking in-house?) and what you want them to do (do you want their advice on the approach or do you have a specific brief you need them to execute?).

Informed Decision-Making and Digital Pilots

The roles of these three stakeholders are clearly defined as long as there is a clear brief in place. It becomes challenging if the situation requires a new way of thinking and approach. Digital initiatives often don’t rely on proven and tested tactics. Through evolving demands in user behavior and experience, we have continuous access to new platforms, formats and channels. This opens opportunities, but also risks and creates a blurry definition of what the solution may look like, which makes it hard to secure buy-in from internal stakeholders.

In the absence of a strong and precise brief it can be helpful to include a trusted (external) partner at an early stage of the assessment and solution-defining process. (Yes, we all want to be part of this decision-making process, because we want to share our experience and help create better outcomes.) If you are concerned about a potential conflict of interest, you can decouple the consultation from the executional efforts.

We know there are many stakeholders already involved at this phase and navigating the politics internally is quite complex and time-consuming. At this point, the last thing the in-house team needs is another opinion. However, sharing a draft brief with an external partner for feedback can save time and costs, pressure test the scope of the assignment, or generate ideas for a potential pilot. The latter is a great way to mitigate risks, since they cover a short time period, require low investment, and focus strongly on measurement of potential outputs. This way, they allow for larger-scale projects if they demonstrate they can deliver the desired outcome.

In summary, change agents manage to bring together the right team of internal business stakeholders, who are open to pilot digital initiatives, and DCoE members, who understand the business need and can define the digital brief as well as select the right external partners. Launching scalable pilots can help mitigate risks and secure buy-ins from internal stakeholders. However, the process for creating and advancing digital maturity requires an honest skill assessment of internal teams and external partners to identify and address potential gaps. Find out how to best approach the skill assessment in part three of our series.

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Digital pages.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

Read More