I’ve been in digital for 20 years. I started out in the 90’s using ActionScript and HTML to push the boundaries of how we sell brands to the world. Glorious digital campaigns for huge global brands using Macromedia Director, Flash sites, Executable files via email…the world of digital was truly ground-breaking…unfortunately all of them now as extinct as my son’s dinosaur collection. So why would this make me hate technology? Especially as I’m a digital strategist!
Because ALL technology becomes extinct. To be a true digital strategist, you need to hate technology. You need to distrust the medium that you work in. You need to be cynical. You need to see it for exactly what it is – a short term tool. An enabler. A tool that enables you only at this moment to get your messages across.
The reason for this is the same reason you change your car every few years. The machine you love now won’t hold the same appeal a few years down the line – no matter how brilliant you think it is right now. It still works after a few years but you know there is something better.
Technology is dead, long live technology
The most important thing I’ve learned during my career is that ALL technology has a life-cycle. You have to precisely predict that life-cycle in order to remain at the forefront. A digital strategy is only as good as the forecasting of these life-cycles.
I’ve been in companies that have implemented ‘here and now’ technologies that have worked wonders. Raising revenues, increasing customers, gaining competitive market share – job done. The issue has always been not planning what that technology will be replaced with and when. This is when all of that hard work starts to undo.
The truly agnostic will always prevail. They will look at any technology with a cynical frown and already be planning its replacement – usually not long after it’s been implemented. This is the fundamental part of any strategy. What does it cost, how long is the contract, when will it realistically be superseded or become a dinosaur.
So what do you do?
If you are creating a digital strategy, it will no doubt include many channels and supporting technologies. Just remember that those supporting technologies have a very real life-cycle – and it is always shorter than you think.