The story of digital intelligence.
The story of digital intelligence is the story of a young market that is reaching its maturity and finally developing an experienced approach to support business growth.
Digital for fun.
We all remember in the 1990’s and the early 2000’s when the concept of digital marketing was an aberration and digital activities were nothing but a seasonal trend at best. During a period of two decades, new concepts were appearing every day. It was bubbling in all directions: It was the start of our digital era and it would touch a generation of kids and young adults directly on their digital soft spot. Among the most memorable, I would have a special mention for the following:
- Personal blogs were starting to populate the Internet, presenting online diaries in the most interactive way so far. Chat rooms, forums and online communities were reaching the first peak of their existence, and they were still very user-unfriendly and still relied on a knowledge of a basic computing to access. But it didn’t matter for the digital human wanted a space to communicate and was happy to learn.
- Flash animations and GIFs were very young but immensely cool, despite their home-made appearance. We could create images that moved, and that was exciting!
Programmers built animated flash items in most softwares and absolutely no one was bored of them!
I remember as a child playing with Creative Writer and spending most of my free time with the legendary McZee. It would be my first encounter with the potential of digital and it all started with a child’s software built by Microsoft. I created hundreds of pages for the school newspaper with it. That’s when little me learnt something of great importance: Digital is cool and it also helps get best the results. The digital game was already on and I wasn’t even ten! It was love at the first keystroke.
Digital brings communities together.
About 10 years ago I was in my first marketing position, fresh from university, idealist and hopeful for the future. I had even bought a nice jacket to pair with my best jeans and look terribly professional, or so I thought I did. Wearing a pair of bright yellow Doc Martens didn’t help either. Unfortunately my sense of fashion has not evolved much. Fortunately my career has. My daily activities didn’t involve much digital at the time, apart from publishing previously approved PR articles onto the website. It took me almost a year to convince the board to implement Google Analytics. The idea of digital data was still very new and it wasn’t clear what was to be made of it.
During the second half of the 2000’s the technological evolution brought by hundreds of computer engineers and talented programmers pushed the boundaries of digital for fun and established the social creature behind digital. Digital was now bringing everything together, people, data, knowledge.
This marked the birth of social media as we know it. Don’t we all remember trembling with excitement as we created our Facebook profile and started to search for old school friends? I do.
The concept was exciting, we could suddenly build a network of friends online. Then Twitter took the idea of a network and gave it a different approach: You can share short news with your community and you don’t even need an invitation to build a network!
But it didn’t stop there. Engineers developed the digital community further.
They delivered cloud storage possibilities, and we all jumped to dropbox to access our precious files on the go. Software solutions became easier and more accessible with the SaaS model: suddenly softwares became people-facing, easy to use, and fast-paced.
We could do so much more from a browser window! Online payment solutions and browsing mobiles added to the belief that digital was bringing everything together all the time.
The digital deliverable.
Things moved pretty fast from there. Marketing agencies developed around new digital concepts such as SEO, PPC, and Web marketing. Digital became an end product that businesses could add into their purchase plan at the same level than printer’s ink and desks.
‘Did you order your SEO?’
‘Yes I have, for only £99.99.’
‘Wow, that’s a bargain!’
Naturally these digital specialities needed to deliver a result but this was the easy part. I have heard countless marketers claim that they can bend the data to prove anything. So, there you have it: delivering a result wasn’t a difficult task. You just needed to evidence a change in data.
I specifically remember being hired as an SEO specialist in a marketing agency only a few of years ago. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes: the SEO specialist just audited websites and wrote meta data. I wasn’t involved in the content generation before it was created, apparently only the PR team knew how to write content. The social media activities were run by the PR team too, who didn't report on social analytics.
I had to beg for quite a long time to gain access to tools such as MOZ and even Google Analytics, which was implemented by the developers but never shared with me.
Don’t get me started on bringing the idea of A/B testing: I was never allowed to proceed with the web designers. It sounds crazy nowadays but at the time it was expected to segment specialisms. Needless to say I left as soon as I was able to! I simply didn’t believe in this simplistic view of the digital world.
New digital needs.
The employment world saw new career paths appearing. The demand grew dramatically for:
- Social media managers
- ECommerce specialists
- CRM experts
- UX strategists
- Content writers
- Responsive web developers
- Big data analysts
- SEO gurus
- PPC stars
Marketers started to build themselves a comfortable zone of expertise. Finally the digital business had reached a point where it could create new roles and new market demands.
The digital business tool.
Very recently we came across the idea of a holistic digital view. The idea was brought in relation to SEO, when it became clear that other digital activities were relevant to the ranking of a website. A new word appeared. ‘SEO is a holistic process’, the experts said.
The concept of integral relationships would spread to other digital activities, such as data analytics, content marketing, conversion optimisation, eCommerce, etc. Things started to make more sense and gradually marketers accepted the fact that their SEO efforts were supported by a user-friendly design, an active social media presence, a solid range of usable data, a relevant and interesting content, a high conversion rate, and even a safe mobile access. High level marketing strategy was born: it enabled all marketing specialities to work together within the limits of specific projects. With it, marketers turned towards KPI’s as a tool to measure the business performance.
This is the last step in the story of digital intelligence. Connected the dots has revealed serious gaps in the business structure; sometimes because the relevant skill is missing; sometimes because digital opportunities are ignored; sometimes because we kept business teams isolated from each other. Digital intelligence was born from acknowledging the gaps and building a broader and deeper understanding of the digital needs by bringing together programming and marketing areas of expertise. The purpose of digital is changing: it isn’t a deliverable product anymore. It is a business tool designed to support BI.
We build digital intelligence.
Digital intelligence focuses on the understanding of digital technology and its effective implementation within a business structure to support market presence, workforce and growth. As a growth tool, digital intelligence delivers applicable solutions driven by data, cost and technology to support the ROI, management, and productivity of a business.
Here at Little Blue Cats, digital intelligence is an integral part of our life. We're a team of digital experts who have worked across a multitude of businesses. We know our stuff and that's why we can help you use digital to grow your business.