​Key Take-Aways From The Chief Digital Officer Forum

Missed the event? Read up on the key topics ahead of its return later this year


Through 20 keynote presentations, fireside chats with HSBC and the UK Cabinet Office and two hour-long discussion panels, the Chief Digital Officer Forum focused on digital transformation and assessed the challenges faced and progress achieved along this journey so far.

If you missed out, then you’re in luck, as we have rounded up the key event takeaways here:

Good digital leadership doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a CDO

A consistent question posed was whether or not companies require a CDO to ensure successful digital strategy. Whilst a head of digital has its benefits - largely having someone focussed on the successful implementation of digital innovation - we heard that in some companies the role had been made redundant. Paul Gill, head of digital engagement at Oxfam GB even posed the questions to our audience – 'are CDOs extinct?'

The most explicit argument for this came from Amanda Neylon, (former) head of digital at Macmillan Cancer Support, who 'digitally transformed herself out of a job'. Amanda established a strategy which meant every staff member was active online, from support nurses answering questions to company-wide sharing of fundraising campaigns. By making digital interactions an integral part of working life of Macmillan, Amanda had fulfilled her role of digital implementation, therefore, retiring from this position in March.

Social media requires a clear and persistent strategy to earn an ROI

An energetic presentation from Lukasz Zelezny, who is head of organic acquisition at uSwitch, identified a spectrum of varying interaction styles on social media platforms. From quiet followers, to casual likers and deal seekers through to trolls, Lukasz demonstrated that consumer presence can vary massively.

His key message was that for brands to succeed they have to interact and pitch the tone of their replies carefully – social media is visual, it’s fun and ultimately social. Lukasz even disclosed the tools and platforms he used to maintain an active social media voice.

Although, arguably, the most crucial point to take away from this talk was: 'Do not interact with trolls, never, they will always win'. 

Delivering a consistent brand on digital consumer platforms is imperative

Another recurring theme was to explicitly show how brands were endeavouring to provide a seamless user experience as consumers moved towards digital. The benefits of this were clearly shown by those who demonstrated how digital platforms had increased their brands efficiency and accessibility.

From Philips outlining how it was able to support new mothers on a 24/7 basis, therefore developing a relationship built on trust which translated to a reliance on its products, to Comic Relief identifying its USP of wide-spread, light-hearted engagement and using digital to cast its fund-raising net even further, consistency was a major topic of the conference.

Digital capabilities in 2016 are just the tip of the iceberg

Whilst our innovative speakers had clearly been pushing the boundaries, they all admitted that they were only just keeping up with current digital developments and were already looking ahead to future technologies and capabilities. Helena Martins, who heads up digital for the National Deaf Children’s Society, even brought virtual reality into the discussion.

Furthermore, the digital-only attitude at Formula E has already allowed them to use social to position fans as an integral part of the race structure. Tom Halls discussed the digital future of sport including E-sports, where stadiums are filled watching teenagers play video games - already valued at $748m/yr - and the ideas Formula E have to capitalise on this growing market.

In all, the CDO Forum brought together well-known brands each at a different stage of their digital journey, and showed that whilst some incredible customer service features have been developed, at the rate new technology is being adopted the ‘digital revolution’ shows no signs of slowing.

Join us when the CDO Forum returns to Sydney in October, Chicago this November and again in London in April 2017.

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