Recently the leaders of the Project: WorldWide group came together in sunny Las Vegas for the network’s annual Global Leadership Summit.  It was there that I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion on the role that “digital” plays in enabling today’s agencies to create more value for client brands.  After a scintillating panel discussion I asked two of the panelists, Robbie Whiting, Head of Creative Technology & Production at ARGONAUT, and Ken Madden, Head of Engagement at Shoptology, to sit down with me to continue the conversation. 

GLS 2014 Digital Panel
GLS 2014 Digital Panel


Many companies struggle to effectively integrate technology and digital techniques in their marketing programs and I was interested in the panelists’ perspectives on how companies can successfully drive culture change and embrace digital.  So I asked them, “How do you “up the digital game” of those who are not digitally adept?”

Ken Madden - B&W
Ken Madden

Ken Madden

First off, I think most of us are more digitally savvy than we give ourselves credit for. Most of us lead digital lives. And yes, we all “live digital” differently to some degree, but engaging in digital technology is almost unavoidable. There are certainly plenty of people that are not technologically adept, but you can hire for that and rely on those people to stay ahead of technology, driving up-and-coming digital innovations and trends.

So, to help move the masses towards a more engaging digital future, there are a few things you can do in combination with one another:

1) Training – not training necessarily on specific digital platforms but training focused on exploration and self-discovery. People need to feel comfortable exploring new technologies and new digital channels as they evolve. How does digital impact them in their daily lives?

2) Empowerment – if people are exploring how different digital outlets impact their own lives then they have opinions and ideas on how to engage digitally from that personal experience, views which are just as valid as those of the most experienced “digital guru”.

3) Translation – finally, while not everyone can bring an idea to life, you need to make sure the infrastructure is in place to translate these ideas into things you can execute in technology, strategy, and creative. Then you can evolve those ideas and translate them into spectacular, executable revelations.


Argonaut_ Robbie Whiting
Robbie Whiting

Robbie Whiting

I actually have two ways of thinking about this. One is rational, the other emotional. First, the rational…

1) Self-guided learning – a Google search for “learn digital marketing” leads to some good options. Or, including sites like Digiday, Ad Age’s digital component, or iMedia Connection — even consumer digital pubs like The Verge — into your daily reading is a must. Start with the high-level strategic stuff. Don’t get down in the weeds right away. Break it down into context: what does digital mean for my client in the category they are in? How has the changing landscape affected their business? Who is doing it right, and why?

2) Structured learning – while at IPG, we put almost the entire organization (including the C-Suite) through Hyper Island’s “Master’s Class” in digital. No digital experience was required to attend, and it was probably the best roll-up-your-sleeves immersive digital course I’ve been involved with. It worked because it taught people how to *think* about digital versus learning endless trends and technologies.

Now, the emotional…

I’ve been doing this a while and my experience has been — if someone is sitting back, waiting for someone to teach them to be ‘digitally savvy’ — that person will probably never be. That’s not to say that people don’t need more guided/curated resources. They do. But success in digital is adopting a mindset of never-ending* learning. (*It never, ever ends.) Every day you are learning something new, re-contextualizing what you know, and you have to seek it out. It rarely comes to you. Remember — you are usually a Google search away from a possible answer. Then, question that answer!

And don’t be intimidated by digital ‘experts’ — cut through the tech jargon. There is no secret fountain of digital knowledge, no school that gives you special insight. You probably know more than you think. Once you dig in, latch on for the long haul; you’ll be a rock star.