Digital strategists + data = a really cool future

Students from the Digital Data Strategist program report from Good Morning 2012 on challenges ahead.

We, the students of the Digital Data Strategist program, have some challenges ahead of us. It’s actually interesting, but we have to deal with both the data world and the whole digital environment. Two things are that are becoming more and more important, but they are also changing very quickly.

To understand a little bit more about what the future holds for us, we talked to two of the speakers of Good Morning 2012: Jameson Toole, an expert in Big Data from the MIT, and Darja Isaksson, digital strategist and CEO at Ziggy Creative Colony.

Here is what they said about their fields of expertise:

Jameson says everyone leaves marks of their digital lives. Think about a pair of jeans. If you always keep your wallet on your back pocket, after a while you can practically see the shape there.

This lets you understand a little bit more about you and how you function. Data will be the patterns and tears and the repairs on your jeans. When you take this to the digital world, well, the possibilities are endless.

To Jameson, the best thing about working with information is: “Data is a non rival resource”. This means that the same dataset can be used by different people to create unique solutions. However, this isn’t simple as it looks, says Jameson. To him, information is more accessible these days thanks to open data initiatives, such as Open NYC and Ottawa. Learning data analysis techniques and tools are also easier and a lot can be self taught.

Data also requires a different way to approach numbers. To make sure you have the best possible dataset, you to move away from the mathematic world where numbers are “cold” and step into a more statistical approach, where everything is a little bit more messy and you have to evaluate the quality of the data at hand and look beyond the numbers.

But once that happens, Jameson believes, business will change. “Services will be better, ads will be more personalized and more efficient, which will also cost less for companies”, he says.

And this brings us to one of the 3 “musts” for everyone who wishes to work with data, according to Jameson: learn as much about different disciplines as you can. Understand economics, psychological behavior or even political sciences. “Real innovation comes when the connection is made in a horizontal level between different areas”.

The second thing is learn how to code. “Find your language and go for it”, says Jameson. This allows you to develop more programs according to your need. And the third thing is to focus on the data visualization. “This is the best way to communicate your findings to different people. And it also allows you to learn more about your research, and then you can take another step in your analysis”. Darja believes in the importance of the digital strategists in the industry. “Digital is changing all business models right now. You have to understanding that, but also create frameworks, optimize efforts and resources, set up a map and work to make sure you go beyond the sales pitch and actually implement your ideas. Those are the real challenges for a digital strategist today”, she says.

In order to do that, Darja have a similar idea to Jameson: digital strategists have to take one step further: “You will need to understand costumer experience, their behavior, their values and how those things affect the business of your client. That’s one of the challenges that we face every single day”.

And one of the challenges is to go beyond the sales pitch. “Power Point is not the reality. You have to be able to make sure that you will get to end of the roadmap that you pitch. Making a change is more important than making a presentation”. In order to do that, Darja has an advice for all of the digital strategists out there: “Love the change. Work hard to do that. Don’t give up just because it is hard. Have good arguments, numbers, because you will always have to deal with politics and business limitations. What do you need is to work in an environment where management understands the digital culture. That’s the kind of places where you can take an insight and take it the first step with it. These days a lot of companies say where they wanna be in the future and they already have the insights and resources, but it´s rare to see people taking the first step towards their goal”.

The last advice from Darja is: “Be a strategist. Not just digital, but someone who understands digital and the business. Insights are available everywhere these days, but be careful. The worst thing for a digital strategist is to be irresponsible, and put the roadmap before the change. Be clear and understand the limitations”.

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