Digital Thirst

[the title is a bit of a joke at my own expense – I can’t pronounce ‘th’ sounds so thirst and first sound the same when I speak!]

Like ‘digital by default’ the term ‘digital first’ has become pretty popular shorthand for a particular kind of organisation shift in recent years. The first time I came across it was in relation to the Guardian strategy but since then I have seen it used for a number of media companies and most recently in relation to the Department of Health strategy and in some recruitment ads for the Wellcome Trust (both of which are quite a bit closer to home career-wise.)

There do seem to be subtle differences between the ‘digital by default’ and ‘digital first’ strategies but to really identify them I’d need to spend more time re-reading various examples of strategy documents than I really ever intend to do so I’m just going to concentrate on my own definition of ‘digital first’. That boils down to;

Digital communication is the first thought not the afterthought – it influences all other communications channels rather than simply reflects (poorly) what has been done elsewhere.

As an organisation my current employers are quite some distance from any definition of ‘digital first’ but nonetheless I have been spending some time thinking about what it might take to change that and how much I can do to move things along.

At the moment I have this idea of the 4Ps which I am using as a framework for my thinking. I am going to try and write a series of blogposts focusing on each of the Ps just to sort out the jumble of ideas in my head and see if something coherent can actually emerge. I am trying to focus on these ideas being practical and realistic in my own environment rather than some unachieveable perfection. (An example of this being that having in-house multi-disciplinary teams doing development is once again seen as the best way forward – look at the success of GDS and the Guardian – however given restrictions on headcounts and budgets that is never going to happen.)

So these are my 4Ps;

People – Upper management buy-in, digital residents (not natives), critical friends, (access to) multi-disciplinary teams.

Processes – agile with a small ‘a’, lean minus the sleaze, access to decision makers.

Platforms – flexible infrastructure. a technical foundation that can be built on.

Products – discrete, definable, ‘shippable’ products not never-ending projects. Small things loosely joined.

Well thats the easy bit done 🙂 Now I need to do the hard graft and flesh out those ideas!


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