Following a 16-year career with the L’Oréal Group, Minter Dial created The Myndset Company, working with organisations to help them – and their executive teams – improve their digital literacy and adjust their mindset to capitalise on the digital landscape.
At the Adobe EMEA Summit at the end of the month, he will be part of CMO.com’s Innovations and Thought Leaders track, speaking about “New tech trends around the world” (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company). CMO.com caught up with him recently, and began by asking him what approaches he uses to help businesses change their thinking about digital.
Dial: There are three strands to my approach. The first one is through speaking. When I am talking to an executive committee, I will mix a combination of inspiration and fear in an effort to shake them up. The second route is via consulting, using audits, interviews and an understanding of the marketplace and showing them how their consumers consume. It is about helping them to understand why and where they could change. The third approach is done in conjunction with a number of partners in my network and it is about activating the company’s strategy. So rather than saying ‘you need to go digital,’ it is asking ‘how can digital be used to bring your strategy to life?’ It’s about how they integrate digital into their overall strategy. Importantly, when we activate this, we make sure that the senior team are active in digital – it’s about them participating and using the digital tools and platforms themselves.
Typically, I focus on three key areas of digital - mobile, social media and internal communications – but, depending on the business, we may be looking at how to use an iPad as a worker on a factory floor or as a salesperson on the shop floor, or maybe using an NFC [Near Field Communications] application or a QR code reader in a retail store. It is about bringing them on slowly but surely, and participating all the way.
CMO.com: How do you ensure that you get that level of participation?
Dial: I try to find not only a professional motivation, but a personal motivation. Depending on the crowd in front of me, I might bring out an application like Tinder just to show them how user interfaces are changing, which can also stimulate someone who is in the market to meet someone to try it out. Unless these executives are exploring new user interfaces and trying these experiences themselves, how can they make any reasonable judgement of their latest app, web site or mobile interface?
CMO.com: Can you share an example of a notable breakthrough in understanding when working with a brand?
Dial: When I was working with one of the large banks in France I showed them, in-situ, a real technological advancement which none of them had ever witnessed, yet it had been in existence for over four years: mobile cheque deposits. In the space of 20 seconds, sitting in front of them, I deposited my cheque in Paris into my bank in New York and there was a big ‘a-ha’. Being able to show concrete, live examples of digital innovation that have a meaningful benefit to a particular business is really powerful.
CMO.com: Technology is continually evolving at pace. Is there one key mega-trend that you feel businesses need to take note of now?
Dial: The reassuring component of our research at Netexplo is that there is a kinder, gentler turn on technology being observed around the world. Whereas there are plenty of nefarious and negative uses, we are seeing more beneficial applications, whether for government, societies or companies. That’s one of the emerging trends – to try and use technology for good.
At the Summit, I will be explaining how some of these initiatives are having an impact on business, as well as looking at why the vast majority of innovations around the world do not come from big corporations. The vast majority of the innovations in Netexplo’s Observatory come from startups. We have seen increasingly more initiatives coming out of big tech companies. Large industry, such as car manufacturers or banks, continue to lag.
Another big trend I will be talking about is data, specifically analytics, data visualisation and smart data. There are a lot of new tools coming out and many companies are transforming their business thanks to the new usages and presentation of data. For me, this success is related to their ability to ask the right questions and create a truly customer-centric culture.
There are numerous challenges, such as consolidating data due to the diversity of sources of information, and in capturing and making the data clean. Secondly, there is a need to create a single customer view that is shared throughout the organisation. Finally, it is about ‘what are we going to do with it?’. There is systematic if not systemic focus on cost-cutting, reaching for the higher ROI and acquiring new customers. However, more companies ought to be concerned with ‘how do I make my loyal customers happier?’ That is the real issue - using that data to better understand and engage with your customers and to render your loyal customers more contented.
CMO.com: Is there one aspect of digital that has surprised you in any way?
Dial: I thought email would die an ugly death, but I have come to realise that email is very strong. Where I would nuance it is that I think there will be a massive evolution in the way email works because ESPs [Email Service Provider] are getting more sophisticated in their recognition of spam and useful mail. Secondly, I think there could be greater filtration via our social graph, so before an email gets through, there could be an opportunity for people to say that they only want email from, say, their connections on LinkedIn, their friends and family on Facebook, and the people they follow on Twitter - anything else needs to go in another bucket. That is the way I think things are going.
CMO.com: What is the one piece of advice you would offer to senior executives when it comes to harnessing the digital revolution?
Dial: My strongest recommendation is to become more digital as an individual. That is really where a lot of senior executives fail. Of course they read The Washington Post or The Times on their iPad, but the digital IQ is a moving target and in order for digital to be successful the user experience is where it’s at. In my opinion, an executive cannot make sensible decisions about the user experience unless they are immersed in it themselves. They need to make it part of their daily hygiene and continually discover new things. It is surprising how many chief digital officers and CMOs don’t have a robust and active Twitter account, much less an active presence on LinkedIn. How are they going to be credible in encouraging their peers and colleagues to use more digital if they themselves don’t? Digital is not something that can be delegated.