The key to unlocking the potential of digital is learning, says strategist Roger Jones – and that requires thinking.
A paradigm is a bit like a rug: if you want to avoid falling over when it is pulled from under your feet, you have to shift your position – radically. No-one understands this better than digital strategist Roger Jones who has made it his business not just to know which direction the rug is being tugged in – but to advise businesses how to stay standing.
His boutique consultancy Actionable Insight has pioneered data driven decision-making to help businesses unleash what he refers to as the “power of new” amid the shift from the “4th estate” of one-to-many communication to the nascent “5th estate” of one-to-one comms – a paradigm shift comparable to the industrial revolution.
“Moving from that 4th to 5th estate requires radical change and although many businesses say they are continually evolving, in actual fact they are not,” explains Jones. “As much as people say they are thinking forward we know the reality of life – that you are operating in the here and now and not a lot of time is spent on this.
“The power of new for me means that whereas we used to do analogue reports looking backwards one month, now we run real-time reporting and predictive forwards – it is the fact that we are now able to be extremely agile and think and react in almost real time.”
Jones is passionate about analytics – “helping people make really smart decisions by looking for data trends and turning them into success.”
“When I am explaining what we do to clients – or even to my mum – I tell them I can help them find the right people and tell the right stories by looking for patterns or trends in their data and turning those patterns into money.”
Jones says that his first question to clients is always: “When was your last paradigm shift – the last major change in your business model or systems of working?”
These changes could be anything: a shift from offline to online selling, from online selling to e-marketplaces, from UK markets to export, or even the migration to a new website.
A second major question then becomes the degree to which businesses allocate “thinking time” to this transformation.
“A business needs to look at itself and work out where it is on that estate model and the shift between one-to-many and one-to-one communications – then they need to think hard about that. There aren’t many people who wouldn’t benefit from having an hour of thinking time – being able to take yourself out of the operational and think for just a moment ‘What if?’ or ‘How could this be done better?’ or ‘Are we being smart enough?’”
When it comes to “thinking time” Actionable Insight practises what it preaches, investing heavily in knowledge – it dedicates one day a week to learning and allocates considerable time to studying markets, trends, emerging best practices, online tools and online platforms.
“The power of digital is profound: the tools are already there to empower businesses, to integrate thinking around their web search, social media content and customer data,” says Jones. “So the ‘power of new’ is there and, in fact, the speed and deployment of digital tools can be really quick.”
But winning hearts and minds can take longer.