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Five key challenges facing digital professionals in 2014

by master

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Last week I had the privilege of being invited to Dublin to speak at T44U, TERMINAL FOUR’s annual user conference held at the Aviva Stadium. I was asked to speak on the subject of digital engagement and to identify and address the key challenges facing the audience.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, TERMINAL FOUR is a digital engagement & web content management platform (wcms) for Higher Education and we have several clients in common. The audience mainly consisted of a mix of digital managers, website content producers and technical developers as well as a fair number of IT, Marketing and Communications decision makers.

Nowadays it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of speaking enthusiastically about the different tactical challenges and opportunities but I am finding that the majority of digital professionals have at least a passing knowledge of these. And I think that the real digital challenges organisations need to tackle right now are much more fundamental in nature. So I chose to speak about the fundamentals of Digital Engagement and identified five areas where I think digital professionals should focus their effort in 2014.

1) Understanding your audience

Audience behaviour is continuing to evolve and adapt to new technologies at a ferocious rate. Expectations are changing, and people are interacting with organisations in new ways and on new platforms using new devices. Effective communications and engagement will rely on developing strategies that recognise and exploit the dynamics of the unique relationship each organisation has with its distinct audiences.

2) Developing a coherent digital strategy

The current pace of change often forces organisations into a tactical mindset. There are almost limitless options available to decision makers and simply following best practice is unlikely to yield success. Successful digital engagement will be reliant on developing a coherent strategy that focuses effort on tangible outcomes.

3) Giving your content a life of its own

Content is widely understood to be of pivotal importance on digital channels but many organisations are still failing to exploit their content’s full potential and focusing unduly on their owned platforms. Developing an always on approach to publishing, planning long term editorial calendars, creating a range of engaging and structured content formats and optimising them for consumption and engagement on third party platforms will be a major priority for digital professionals in 2014.

4) Becoming a smooth ‘multi-channel’ operator

The ongoing proliferation of digital channels, devices and platforms and the impending disruption signified by the arrival of the Internet of Things will present a major challenge in 2014.  Understanding the ways in which our audiences traverse different channels and defining better multi-channel experiences and services must be a priority. And organisations who cannot organise and exploit audience data to optimise those experiences using CRM will really struggle.

5) Moving from digital owner to digital leader

Digital priorities have become increasingly interwoven with other aspects of organisational activity. In order to implement a coherent strategy, create engaging content and offer exemplary multi-channel experiences it is now essential for marketing and IT teams to work alongside a range divisions including operations, customer services, product teams and HR. This will require a major investment in cross-functional collaboration and digital owners will need to learn to become digital leaders.

You can take a look at the presentation I gave below and I hope you find it useful. Naturally there’ so much more I could have covered so I’d love to hear your nominations for more key challenges facing digital professionals in 2014 in the comments below.

We’re also planning on turning it into an e-book over the next couple of weeks so email [email protected] if you’d like us to send you a link when its ready.