Steve Smith is the Chief Digital Officer at AccuWeather where he specializes in advertising and subscription based products as well as overseeing business development initiatives with various global partners. Products range from browser-based, mobile web, mobile apps and various connected-devices.
Question 1: How do you define ‘digital strategy’?
“At AccuWeather, we define our digital strategy as understanding how our various products and services, particularly in the mobile and web spaces, and more broadly, connected devices, fits into our broader vision of personalizing the weather to improve peoples’ lives.
For example, we know that there has been a massive shift in the way our consumers access our services — our business strategy has evolved to accommodate this shift, particularly on a global scale. This means adapting to the needs of our distribution partners or innovating a new, personalizable service for their latest device. This has led to AccuWeather apps and widgets being preloaded on some 1.3 billion mobile devices around the world.
Another example is how we bring digital innovation into the newsrooms of broadcasters across the U.S. by enabling the use of social media and crowdsourcing via our StoryTeller product to help tell their news stories. All of these examples drive us to constantly update and refocus our strategy while maintaining focus on innovating new and unique products.”
Question 2: What are the three most significant digital trends that will define 2014?
“Many of the trends I am seeing are already happening to some extent but the three trends at the top of my mind for this year and next include:
- Digital first thinking in everything we do: This is more of a mindset and approach to creating new or reinventing services. Look at what apps like Uber, Yelp and Waze (to only name a few) have done to both disrupt and create, in many ways, a better approach. This is leading to consumers seeking out the digital services first prior to leaning back on what they knew in the past.
- Greater integration with wearable technology: People are more in tune than ever before with personal metrics about themselves. For example, in fitness and health related to calorie tracking. The wearables category is the start of both the consumerization and ultimately, expectation that we will track a large amount of individual aspects of our lives, in real-time, all the time.
- Social media continuing to permeate into our daily lives: We see the value of social media moving beyond the simple status update and into areas that provide even more value, such as the ability to even more effectively define, market and target your audience in whole new ways. In addition, the ability to continue to interact with our users to build a dialog and also help test and incubate new ideas, making new inroads in engagement levels.”
Question 3: What kind of mobile device(s) do you have, and what are your three favorite apps?
“I have a Samsung Galaxy phone and an iPhone.
My go-to apps are: Twitter, FourSquare/Swarm (four years later and I am still a fan of the check-in plus the ability to track some of my favorite locations and restaurants during my travels) and MobileDay, a conference calling app that directly dials all the conference line numbers plus passcodes with a push of the button. A must-have for those on the go all the time!”
Question 4: What do you think of the emergence of the Chief Digital Officer role?
“One of the fascinating things about the Chief Digital Officer role is that the job description widely varies from company to company. I recently attended a conference that gathered Chief Digital Officers from a diverse group of organizations across the U.S. and it was very clear just how much this dynamic role is adapted to the specific needs and opportunities of the company. It really is an evolving role. I also believe that as time goes on and digital continues to become more a part of doing everyday business, there will no longer be the need for a Chief Digital Officer, as the C-Suite will all need to be well-versed in digital strategy.”
Question 5: What advice do you have for aspiring digital professionals?
“I tell aspiring digital professionals that part of your role will always be innovating the ‘art of the possible.’ This means being very knowledgeable in the latest technology, both on the consumer and enterprise side (my last role at AccuWeather was CIO). This allows you to provide true insight to your colleagues and partners into what technology makes the most sense to the organization, as well as assessing recommendations on digital strategies that will bring the most value.”