5 Questions With… Jessie Adcock of the City of Vancouver

Jessie Adcock is the Chief Digital Officer for the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 

Question 1: How do you define ‘digital strategy’?

I define ‘digital strategy’ as an enabling framework for transformation. A specific strategy allows organizations to focus their attention on common goals and to identify flagship outcomes from amongst those goals. A company with a digital strategy has a policy in place on where they want to go from a technology, workforce and customer experience standpoint. This enabling framework established a vision, creates momentum, helps diffuse internal resource conflicts and allows multiple business units to align efforts to the same goals.

Question 2: What kind of mobile device(s) do you have, and what are your three favorite apps?

I am the queen of devices: I have an Android phone, an iPhone, an iPad, and a laptop that I carry almost everywhere. On personal time, I also carry my daughter’s iPod. I am mostly paperless, but clearly device convergence is not my strong suit. Apps wise, I am a fan of apps that curate news feeds, my calorie counter app and online banking app are musts and of course my social media apps.

Question 3: What do you think of the emergence of the Chief Digital Officer role?

I think leadership arises when there is a need and where there are gaps. We have hit a technology critical mass: customer experience and brand have become mainstream topics, technology is more user-friendly, smart phones are the norm, kids can change their WiFi settings on their iPads from the age of two onwards, and innovation is occurring at an unprecedented pace. This has caused a massive social shift in behavior, a massive economic shift in consumption, and a it’s created a new normal.

The CDO role helps organizations navigate this era of change. Some organizations will need dedicated leadership during this period, some will adapt in other ways. There is no doubt that the change is here and it’s no coincidence that we have seen the rise of the CDO role. As we move forward, some organizations will settle back into traditional organizational structures and others may evolve and create new structures that involve a different kind of technology leadership.

Question 4: What advice do you have for aspiring digital professionals?

Know your customer, first and foremost.  Design and analyze with them in mind.  Second, don’t blow the budget – test and learn, iterate, the 80% solution is better than no solution at all.  Finally, think laterally about your organization’s relationship with the customer, not just a single department’s relationship with the customer – that will help customer-centricity become more organic in the organization’s culture.

One other piece of advice I can offer is that there are a lot of theorists in this industry and that is good – we need them – but we also need to know how to deliver and execute. So focus as much attention on working on projects as you do working on marketing theories and trends, because it’s the practical hands-on project experiences that will contribute to your long term success.

Question 5: Who has been the most influential person in your career development and why?

A former boss at my last place of employment.  He taught me the importance of human relationships in the workplace, how to identify team goals and set up communication structures to create high performing teams, how to leverage IT investments by re-using and integrating existing technology components, the importance of a simple and intuitive customer experience, and also the power in leading teams by example.  I am still in touch with him and I will always be grateful for the lessons in leadership.

For more information on Jessie Adcock, follow her on Twitter (@VancouverCDO) or connect with her on LinkedIn

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