5 Questions With… Nigel Fenwick

Nigel Fenwick is Vice President-Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, where his research focuses on business at the intersection of marketing and technology.

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

“From my perspective, digital strategy should provide a clear understanding of what it means to be a digital business and set out the optimum path the company must take in becoming a digital business.

Transforming to a digital business is much more than bolting a mobile app in-front of your website. It’s much more than putting up a Facebook page and a Twitter account. It’s about fundamentally changing the way you think about creating customer value, changing the way you deliver customer value and changing the experiences customers have with the company through rapid innovation. The goal is to increase long-term revenue by improving customer loyalty, increasing per-customer sales, increasing customer referrals and increasing market share. At the same time, companies must defend against digital disruptors and the best way to defend against disruptors is to become a disruptor. Digital business strategy encompasses all these things – it lays out a process of business transformation and sets out the technology required to win, serve and retain customers.”

Question 2: What are the three biggest digital trends that will define 2014? 

“First, digital business transformation: 2014 will be a pivot point in digital. CEOs will either come to understand the disruptive nature of digital business, or they will not. Those that do not are likely to see their business disrupted in the next five years by more nimble, digital-savvy competitors who find new ways to deliver added value to the company’s existing customers.

Second, companies will feel the impact of what Forrester calls ‘The mobile mind shift‘: the expectation of customers that they can get what they want in their immediate context and moment of need. As a result, mobile is central to customer experience (CX).

Third, digital sensor integration: We will continue to see companies embed digital sensors into products, gather digital data and subsequently create new sources of value for customers.”

Question 3: What kind of mobile device(s) do you have, and what are your three favorite apps?

  • Apple Powerbook Pro
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Kindle Paperwhite
  • Fitbit Force

“My favorite apps for iPhone (this one’s hard as I use many daily but these three are well designed):

  • American Airlines
  • CamScanner+
  • Camera+

My Favorite apps for iPad (again, this one’s hard – these are three I think are well designed):

  • BBC News
  • Aviary
  • Fidelity investments

My most-used app across all platforms is Evernote. I drafted this response in Evernote on my Mac.”

Question 4: How do you envision the role of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) evolving over the next 2 – 5 years?

“The CDO role will evolve based on each company’s needs. Strategic CDOs will seek to embed digital thinking across their organization. Ultimately they will seek to remove the need for a CDO as digital becomes a way of thinking for every employee in the organization. But most companies won’t achieve this level of maturity within five years. Those that don’t make significant progress risk going out of business. While many of today’s CDOs have a marketing background, the natural leader of digital initiatives for the org should be a digital-savvy CIO because digital business requires much deeper integration into the organization’s technology architecture than a marketing CDO can achieve. The challenge for many of today’s CIOs is they lack marketing experience and they have never run a P&L.”

Question 5: What advice do you have for aspiring digital professionals?

“Begin by understanding that digital leadership requires much more than technology or marketing savvy. Sure, digital leadership requires the combination of both; but successful digital leadership in a large organization also requires creative strategic thinking and the ability to influence people across the enterprise. Aspiring digital professionals who want to become digital leaders need to be brutally honest about their experience gaps and find ways to plug these gaps through special projects, job rotations and even moving between companies. Of course, leading a successful and highly visible digital project can open doors that shortcut your way to the top, but to stay there you will need to somehow plug those gaps.”


For more information about Nigel Fenwick, visit the Forrester website, follow him on Twitter (@NigelFenwick), or check him out on LinkedIn

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