So what does it take to build the Nation’s Digital DNA?


Our MD attended the Digital Leaders National Digital Conference, (ND16) London, to debate and brainstorm the key opportunities and actions required to build the Nation’s Digital DNA, with a look ahead to 2026.

The conference brought together digital leaders for a lively debate on key topics that looked at the successes and continuing challenges in achieving digital transformation across private, public and voluntary organisations.

Debbie shares her insights from the day.

It was great to spend an immersive day with other digital leaders, who are working hard to achieve digital transformation, in organisations of all sizes in diverse sectors. Thinking ahead to 2026 may seem somewhat far off and futuristic, when there is still much that needs to be achieved in the here and now. However, looking to the future in this way, really broadens the way that we think about digital and what we need to be addressing now to ensure that the UK continues to be a strong leader in the digital landscape globally. 

Digital transformation definition

Digital transformation has different interpretations. Organisations often think that building a new website or platform can in itself bring about transformation of services. True digital transformation can be so much more than this. It can be totally disruptive from the inside out, opening up new opportunities, addressing organisational culture, creating new ways of working, joining up services, improving access and reducing friction for customers. 

Here are my top take outs from ND16. These are essential when thinking about the opportunities digital can bring for your organisation and your customers and align with our own thinking here at Kolab and that of our clients.

    1. Digital needs to underpin and complement business strategy

The organisations that are seeing the most success with digital transformation have aligned digital with their business objectives and strategy. These companies haven’t just added digital as a bolt on to their offering. They’ve embedded it within their organisation from the inside out. It becomes part of the culture and DNA.

    2. Customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation

Thinking from the customer's perspective is paramount to success. Consulting with the beneficiaries of services and including them in the transformation journey brings surprising results. Think of internal and external customers and keep them at the heart of your business.

    3. We need to design for all customers, to achieve inclusion

Digital can bring enhanced experiences for all if we design with all customers in mind, Accessibility is key. Including users in the design testing stage makes sure that you have considered how they are going to interact with your product or service and you are creating an interactive experience that includes users with disabilities. Mobile responsive solutions also increase accessibility.

    4. Collaboration (or Kolaboration in our case!)

Collaborating internally, in teams, with other organisations and with end users of your service really enhances the results and creates big thinking. Collaboration can be as simple as rearranging desks in your space to allow teams to work in a more open communicative way and using technology such as Google Hangouts to bring people together more to solve problems collectively. 

    5. De-jargonise

Humanising what we do in the marketing and tech sector can really make digital more accessible and take some of the mystery out of what we do. From three letter acronyms to complicated job titles and job specs, it can get a bit confusing! The benefits of humanising our language range from making it more open for young people to consider working in the industry to our clients really being able to get the benefit of what we do, as conversations become less clunky and more fluid.

    6. Addressing the skills gap 

There is still a way to go in addressing the skills gap. By demystifying the industry, considering apprenticeships and intern placements and providing more opportunities for women to return to work after periods of family responsibility, more people can experience the great range of opportunities that digital brings. 

    7.Set big targets

Setting big targets helps us to think in a much bigger way about the breadth of what we want to achieve. Setting out smaller goals still makes it achievable for us to reach bigger things. This helps to  make exponential leaps forward and keep pace with the digital landscape.

    8. Ask disruptive questions

This is something that I was encouraged to do on Google's digital marketing course ‘Squared Online’ and something that was explored at the conference. Asking questions of ourselves, our organisations and our environments helps us to broaden our outlook. The what, how and why’s really start to challenge thinking and perspectives.

   9. Cyber security - making people feel safe online

To achieve digital transformation of a local, national or global scale we need to make sure people feel safe online. Reassuringly, the New National Cyber Security Centre (set to bring UK expertise together) is launching soon. 
We can all do more to bring change in this area. Thinking about the language we use to explain what we want people to do and being transparent about how data is stored will all help to build confidence for users alongside providing secure solutions.

   10. Digital - the sustainable solution

Surprisingly, sustainability wasn’t something which the speakers touched on in any detail on the day.

Here is my own take on it.

Digital can really help bring sustainable solutions to organisations when considered as part of the DNA. Budgets can be challenging however, when we think in a different and more challenging way, we start to see sustainable solutions emerge. Incremental changes lead to big savings in resources. Reducing travel by using technology to hold meetings, scheduling using online tools and collaborating to make sure that the ideas generated lead to bigger thinking, all lead to increased sustainability for our organisations and our environment.


And finally to sum up, here’s my mantra saved from the day. Feel free to use it or create your own from the points above.

“We need to think big and act on it. We need to be brave and challenge ourselves more!”

You can find out more about  the speakers line up from the day here
And the social coverage here #ND16

Contact if you want to talk more on digital transformation for your organisation.

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