Skip Besthoff is the CEO of InboundWriter, a content optimization app company competing in the marketing technology and automation category. He is also a Partner at Castile Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm.
Question 1: How do you define ‘digital strategy’?
Great question. As I reflected on this I looked up some quick facts:
- 56 percent of all US adults now have smartphones (Pew)
- Over 50 percent of apps are used for commerce-oriented functions such as banking, shopping, maps / navigation / search (Nielsen)
- 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals (Adweek)
It used to be that ‘digital strategy’ was a separate thing, an offshoot of a company’s main efforts. The data above suggests a different dynamic – that digital has now become central to influencing your customers and driving business. Of course this will vary based on the business you are in, but generally speaking if your digital strategy is not central to your overall corporate strategy, it’s most likely a mistake. As such, I don’t think about ‘digital strategy’ as a discrete, separate initiative. To me, any overall business strategy needs to put digital understanding and initiatives at its core because that is where your customers are. Any strategy that loses sight of its customers is not likely to succeed.
Question 2: What kind of mobile device(s) do you have, and what are your three favorite apps?
I am a bit of a laggard at present. I love my iPhone 4S because I have it totally dialed in and it is mission critical for me. I need to make a jump soon to a newer phone, but I am devoted to the iPhone and Apple ecosystem.
Favorite apps: definitely Hotel Tonight – it has revolutionized travel for me. Along those same lines , I am a big Uber fan. Finally, I religiously read New York Times on the iPad – it is a vastly superior reading experience versus paper.
Question 3: What do you think of the emergence of the Chief Digital Officer role?
I think it’s great. I see the Chief Digital Officer is increasingly a senior business leader versus reporting to a CIO, CMO, etc. This is critical evolution as ‘digital’ continues to exert an increasing level influence on business, per my comments above.
Question 4: What advice do you have for aspiring digital professionals?
Don’t think about your role and objectives too narrowly. You need to think how the things you’re working on influence the business as a whole. For example, most publishers have ‘print teams’ and ‘digital teams’. In this day and age, those barriers need to come down. Digital professionals need to have this mindset and lead the way. Those that do will be the ones to drive innovation and come out on top.
Question 5: Who has been the most influential person in your career development and why?