What does it mean to be Digital?

I will admit that even when I was thinking about writing this I already knew this would be a contentious topic – but then again that’s the whole point of writing non? 😉

So let’s skip to the point here: What does it mean to be Digital in this day and age? I see a tons resumes and LinkedIn profiles with folks claiming to be digitally savvy, complete with deep understanding of the buzz terms, but perhaps I am a cynic (I am somewhat) because I question what it means in today’s workforce to be digital now since everyone seems to stick that into their personal descriptions that it’s become virtually meaningless.

There are various ways to approach this but I would think that there are 5 axioms to the world of Digital: Strategy, Design, Social Media, Analytics & Data, Mobile and Content. Already I can sense that many people will argue my classifications – go ahead and challenge, that’s what the comments at the bottom are for – but this is my article and I will write this how I see it…blah blah and how the rest of the sentence goes you already know.


I think this is the one pillar that becomes truly blurred when folks are describing functions in the whole digital ecosystem – everyone seems to think they are or know how to develop strategy. This could be true, but I will say this: Is it really a strategy that is being created or some sort of tactical play that uses some sort of digital medium as a touch point? Are we developing true KPI’s for this channel? Is the needs analysis being answered with a digital-first thinking?


A somewhat obvious area in that there are designers that truly know how to design for web, and sadly those that say they do, but are just designing print pages that have a navigation bolted onto them. I think we all can agree on some great designs and some poor ones but find it hard to articulate why we like one site over another – in a desktop, mobile or table – so I would contend these folks know how to do it right and make any experience dazzling and seamless.

Social Media

Rather than counting a person’s fans or followers, or talk about a trending tool – I would like to think that specialization in this pillar attempts to answer the question of: Why ?

Why do people follow a brand? Why do they favour one platform over another? Why would a good consumer journey use a particular social platform?

Analytics & Big Data

The un-sexy cousin to Design – Analytics attempts to uncover trends, or insights into what people are doing or better; what they want to do.

Statistical analysis and hard numbers approach to explaining a story – one member in my current Big Data class best summed this up by saying: ‘it’s the organization of data that is currently disorganized and therefore cannot be labeled as analytics yet’. As we are provided more and more data around consumers, the bigger question looms again: Why? And how we attempt to answer that why with statistics and algorithms can become sexy I think.


Yes, insert buzzterm here: Content is King. But really where did that even come from? I don’t think Marshall McLuhan thought of this one did he? Or maybe this was something that was always floating around the public awareness but never quantified so much as it is today. I will contend that content and those that know how to develop content for digital are truly the influencers in this day and age – we are a fickle society and it’s hard to write in short copy to get a message across and also be fun and engaging (look at how long this article already is!), so yes I would agree that content and those that know how to convey, harness, and produce it are Kings in their own right.

So what is the point of all this rambling? Well, the next time someone says to you – yes I am a Digital guru (I hate that word btw), let’s truly examine what that means and perhaps you can think of this article and ask: Oh really?

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

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