Monday 26 March 2018

What kind of digital strategist are you?

From brand strategy, digital strategy, UX and technology, today’s employers and clients are looking for digital strategists who take a holistic approach. As a strategist, your leadership brand or style is equally important. So, what’s your leadership brand and what are the skills that will set you apart? For inspiration, we asked our AdSchool Digital Strategy and Experience Design presenters about their personal approach.

The Creative Pragmatist

by Rob Hudson, Managing Director Clemenger BBDO Brisbane

In an industry often beguiled by utopian dreams of one-to-one AI driven adaptive omnichannel communications, funnel optimisation, augmented reality and yes big data, I exist as a creative pragmatist.

Inspired by the technology but guided by our humanity. The logic of digital and the magic of emotional connections have long been the tools of my trade. And it’s blending the two that delivers outstanding results for businesses, including my own in Clemenger.

Creativity comes in so many forms, from a keen insight or an inspiring brief to a breakthrough strategy or a motivating concept. The indulgent breadth of problems and the diverse opportunities in solutions excite and drive me every day.

The hybrid strategist

by Guy Turner, Insights and Strategy Director WA

Listening to Jack Ma recently at the world economic forum annual meeting, a few points resonated with me. Much of it was based around values and drive, with a focus on curiosity rather than academic achievement.

“We cannot teach our kids to compete with the machines who are smarter — we have to teach our kids something unique. In this way, 30 years later, kids will have a chance.” “you don’t need to be in the top three in your class, being in the middle is fine, so long as your grades aren’t too bad. Only this kind of person [a middle-of-the-road student] has enough free time to learn other skills.”

Over many years I used to give career talks to year 10s, and would always point out as a digital advertising manager my current job didn’t exist when I was their age, so don’t stress if you don’t know where you are going – you will work it out. In acknowledgement of Ma’s points, most of what I have learned and delivered as a hybrid strategist has been a result of curiosity and maintaining enough mental bandwidth to learn other skills and recognise opportunities. 

I have great curiosity about why people do what they do, and the power of data to unlock the answers. Gathering knowledge here helps qualify the potential of a powerful idea or opportunity, then having a broad enough understanding of the interdependencies required for implementation delivers outcomes. I value specialists very highly, especially in implementation phases, but I have no interest (or likely capability) in being one.

I would propose, however, the opportunity for the true hybrid strategist is changing as the complexity of the big picture increases. Per a recent article out of MIT, post AI jobs fall into 3 categories; The Trainers, those who improve AI systems, The Explainers, those who interface with commercial or other entities not in direct contact with the AI, and The Sustainers, those who ensure AI operates as intended. I think were I to speak to those year 10s again today I would suggest finding their unique path along one of these channels so they don’t have to ‘compete with the machines who are smarter’ but rather compliment them. Should they have the capability to cover more than one channel, they just might change the world.

Guy Turner and Rob Hudson are presenting the 2018 Digital Strategy & Experience Design course in Perth and Brisbane, respectively. The course is also running in Sydney and Melbourne. 

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