Tom Halls is responsible for all digital product development across Formula E, one of the most innovative and exciting new Motorsports series in the world. Halls was formally Head of Digital at the Lawn Tennis Association, and his wealth of experience is helping drive Formula E towards its goal of being the most globally digitally-disruptive sporting series.
We sat down with him.
How do you think the role of a brand’s digital leaders will develop through 2016?
With digital being integrated further into the traditional marketing mix, I anticipate that whilst we continue to educate and support the rest of the organization on digital programmes, there will be a greater need to drive top line innovation. Digital is expected nowadays, but digital innovation is still a growing area of opportunity with new technology.
What has been the most challenging digital strategy to get your team on board with?
I’ve always been fortunate to work with relatively forward-thinking organisations in my roles within digital, but driving a mobile-first approach has certainly raised eyebrows in the past. At least until they understand the market saturation and content consumption patterns we see on the platform!
Being present across all digital platforms can potentially lead to a dilution of brand message, how can you avoid this?
Less is most definitely more here; picking the platforms that are relevant to your customer base and excelling in that space is far more effective than a scattergun approach. I've made some tricky calls to dial down our presence or close social accounts and platforms in the past when they’ve not been performing.
How can you ensure a company-wide digital innovation strategy will work across all departments?
It’s easier when you’re in an organisation that fosters innovation, for sure. Success here comes from bringing colleagues along with you on the journey and showing the benefits to their area of the organisation; whether it’s streamlining processes, generating more leads or providing better platforms for content distribution
How has the way you use data and analytics developed your company's capabilities?
As a motorsports series we have access to a wealth of data, both from the cars and teams but also our fans; with that amount likely to grow substantially over the course of the next few years. We have a data strategy that allows us to scale, having built a technological backbone that can grow with our needs. This means we’re better placed to make sensible predictions about future consumer trends; whether it’s what content they engage with or what makes the difference in their at-race experience
Whilst digital development has accelerated business development a huge amount, it also presents a number of threats, which do you imagine will have the biggest impact on your business?
I think we have to be optimistic with digital development; the next 3-5 years will see a rate of advancement technologically that we have never ever seen before – as life-changing as the invention of the internet and mobile phones. Virtual reality, augmented reality, near-field communications, beacons…all can provide a substantial boost to our understanding of the world around us. Our lives are now driven by our digital experiences, not just enriched by them; the question is how long can we continue to innovate at this pace and what’s the impact if the consumer can’t keep up?
Mobile-first is the buzz word of 2016 so far, how are you developing your mobile strategy?
We have a number of exciting new mobile products for 2016; from a mobile-first website relaunch to bespoke content delivery mechanisms that drive personalised content based on a fan’s behavioural traits within our second screen app. Everything we do has to work on a mobile first; our core demographic demands that, so we look for ways to enrich that experience and provide instant value that keeps them engaged on a daily basis.
Tom Halls will be speaking at the Chief Digital Officer Forum in London this 14-15 April, join the discussion and register for your pass today here.