The benefits of Digital Advisory Boards


A ‘DAB’ hand…

When researching Digital Advisory Boards on Google, only one FTSE company is ranked and that is Thomas Cook Plc. The other results are almost entirely news articles on governmental digital advisory boards. Is government really ahead on its thinking about the future of digital than UK Plc?

Harriet Green, CEO of Thomas Cook Plc who is leading the impressive turnaround of one of the oldest British high street retailers sights ‘a vital element in our transformation is the development and implementation of our digital strategy.’ I suspect these very words have passed the lips of most CEO’s, on more than one occasion.

She goes on to say “The DAB will make a significant contribution to the success of Thomas Cook. It, in addition to the group’s executive team, includes an exceptional array of independent experts whose input will be invaluable to our activities.”

I believe that the establishment of Digital Advisory Board’s (DAB’s) will increasingly happen through 2014 for companies looking to gain perspective and council from outside their specific sector or market whether that’s retail, travel, consumer goods, media or banking. The value of these DAB’s will be significant.
Every day we hear about companies looking to ‘transform’, ‘pivot’ or ‘innovate’ and there’s good reason for this. But who’s helping with the answers? Equally importantly who’s asking the right questions of not just what’s possible, but also what’s fundamental for future business growth in this fast evolving digital world.

Most boards are made up of industry veterans, those that have worked up through the sector and sometimes through the ranks of the company itself. And of course that wealth of experience is important, but it exposes a risk in this day and age of not better understanding the nuances of how other businesses in other sectors approach selling, marketing and communicating with their customers.

Let’s take a major UK high street bank that is about to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in technology to further improve the way the business is run, by putting technology in place to best serve its increasingly digitally savvy customer.

A Digital Advisory Board of five experienced digital specialists, helping the board make the right decisions might look like this:

  • A Product Director x PayPal
  • An Online Trading Director x Argos
  • A Content Director x Expedia
  • A Director of Advertising Sales x
  • And a CTO x Amazon

These members meet the board quarterly to share knowledge and insight, especially helping the CEO and the CFO. This doesn’t expose ignorance; it helps ensure the right questions are being asked, with the added benefit of learning from others from leading companies outside of the banking sector. This is likely to cover lessons from; ‘test and learnt’ initiatives, accurate digital marketing budgets, optimal team structuring and advice on the right external technology partners to work with.

Some might say their CEO’s will be concerned that their lack of digital knowledge would be exposed. Maybe, but if we in the UK continue to pioneer much of the ever growing global eCommerce and digital industry, then we must truly invest in knowledge and how other businesses embrace the incredible technology available to drive growth and impress customers.

If you would be interested in discussing being a Digital Advisory Board member in another sector, or you feel the creation of a DAB would be valuable to your board and business, we’d be delighted to discuss it with you.

Rupert Jupp
Managing Director & Founder


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