We get a lot of questions from our community here about the Chief Digital Officer role and its potential relevance/value, and also about how companies craft Digital strategies. To respond to that, we’ve started to reach out to those in our community playing Chief Digital Officer roles, and our hope is to share their experiences with you over the coming months. We’re really excited about this!
So I was delighted to spend a couple of hours with Jora Gill, Chief Digital Officer at The Economist Group, a few days back. We talked about his role and mission, how he plays his role day-to-day, how the Digital strategy at The Economist Group has come together, the critical success factors as he sees them, and also—maybe most interestingly—how he’s measured and what ‘success’ looks like.
We’re preparing to deliver the full conversation as a webcast in the coming weeks, but before we get that finalised, I wanted to share just one part of that conversation with you here.
One of the most illuminating aspects for me about The Economist Group’s Digital strategy and Jora Gill’s role is that he has the Group’s business analytics team as part of his responsibility. This is important for a number of reasons—all of which we’ll explain on our webinar—but one key thing that comes out is how this team helps Gill and his colleagues play an advisory role with the Group’s various line-of-business executives.
Not surprisingly, demand to create and change digital products comes from across these lines of business, but often there are design decisions that need to be reworked in order to make digital products and features work more seamlessly together, to improve the customer experience.
As Gill says: “it’s always hard to tell someone that their baby’s ugly—they will hate you or ignore you. But if you show them hard data that strongly suggests the baby is ugly, that’s an objective point—it’s not just my opinion against their opinion. From there, you can then work together to come up with experiments and ideas that you can try out to improve things.”
Gill is also clear that a readiness to experiment is incredibly important to a Digital strategy: with environments, technologies and customers’ expectations evolving so rapidly, there are really no hard-and-fast rules that you can rely on to design the perfect product features for your audience.
How Gill’s team carries out these experiments, and how these fit into the broader Digital strategy, is something else we’ll share with you when we get this full interview out there.
I’d love your thoughts on these points—do they resonate with you?
And also—perhaps you’re playing a similar role to Jora Gill at The Economist Group, and would like to be part of our executive interview series? If so, I’d be really delighted to hear from you! Let me know in the comments, or alternatively you can reach me at neilwd [at] mwdadvisors [dot] com.