Digital – Top to bottom or bottom to top?

Myself and Parks Digital guru Tom attended a breakfast briefing this morning, kindly hosted by the Jersey Chamber of Commerce featuring Ronnie Isherwood, Co-Founder of JE3.COM and Tim Bullock, Chief Information Officer of BNP Paribas. The speakers took a slightly different approach to tackling the questions "What is Digital" and "How important is having it represented at Board level?" There were lots of points made around Security, use of Data and the main point – Marketing. Both Speakers were great and were in agreement that Jersey isn’t doing enough at a board level to include Digital Strategy and the sooner that is addressed; the sooner we can move forward as a business community.

We agree, however, there is one thing that we at Park wanted to really emphasise and that is the focus around digital talent on the island. Ronnie Isherwood pointed out a statistic that Digital Jersey has released recently, and that is the fact that there are c. 2,500 digital personnel on the island already in roles – Wow – now I’m no stranger to the Island and I have to say, that the statistic really surprised me! I wonder does this include all roles that include some digital responsibilities? Or are they outright digital roles? Either way, available digital talent is scarce on the island and with tight restrictions around licences this won’t improve until our home grown talent comes into fruition so unfortunately, there is no ‘quick fix’ to this dilemma.

One other area that the speakers focussed on was the digital marketing side, with Social Media at the heart of this. This is nothing new; of course the last half a decade has been dominated by the impact of social media within digital marketing and the impact of that within Marketing as a whole. We understand Social Media is now integral, the public knows it, THE BOARD WILL KNOW IT and yet still, senior business leaders on the island are not taking it seriously. It seems the question isn’t are they taking Digital seriously at Board level but why are they not taking Digital seriously at Board level? Clearly the type of business that you are in can have an effect on the style of digital use but whats holding people back….. is it fear? Perhaps a lack of understanding or both?

The missing link is partnering up the younger/digital savvy employees alongside senior business leaders, in a form of a board apprentice scheme (or similar), which was mentioned this morning. Why don’t we go one further and build a Senior/Junior mentoring scheme that sits within businesses? If the board of businesses on the island were to put plans in place that allow more junior level employees to partner up with senior business leaders – the two way benefits could be unbelievable!

Senior business leaders would be coached and mentored in the ways of digital, all of the latest trends and styles of interaction etc. and then these leaders can assess, with the understudy of the junior employee, how these can be applied to the workplace?

The junior employees would be given access to senior decisions and analysis – providing them with opportunities for contribution and personal development (hopefully even resulting in talent retention!) and providing the business with a strong, decision experienced rising stars: all this with digital at the core. Now THAT could be a long term strategy for digital going further than hiring at board level!

This could potentially be a way to plan for a digital future, which works in harmony with the Digital strategy, and perhaps in turn the HR strategy and of course…… it all starts in the boardroom.

Right, back to the day job and I'm off to post a job on Facebook............