A view from Richard Townsend

Author demystifies key digital concepts despite book's narrow scope

Richard Townsend, managing director and co-founder of Circus Street, reviews Big Social Mobile by David F Giannetto.

It has become increasingly obvious in recent years that digital transformation is the biggest challenge facing businesses. No longer is it enough to simply adopt new platforms and technologies as they come along. Only by anticipating them and placing them at the very heart of a business can sustainable success be achieved in a modern media market.

David F Giannetto’s book picks up this idea and runs with it – highlighting that how a business uses big data, social media and mobile technology are key signs of a successful digital enterprise.

The book focuses on the strategy of marrying big data and social media and it definitely reinforced what we believe at Circus Street about digital transformation. Everyone is familiar with the success stories of Apple and Google but these are unique cases and for the most part impossible to replicate. However, lesser-known case studies such as the failing thought process which resulted in Yahoo!’s downfall are a lot more valuable. All credit to Giannetto for realising this, as these pearls of wisdom prevent his book from turning into strategic stodge, and keep the reader inspired and engaged.

‘Digital’ can often be a tricky term to navigate - in fact, marketing itself can be a minefield of meaningless buzzwords, and one of my biggest criticisms of Big Social Mobile is that it plays into this tendency. This is a shame, as within the book itself Giannetto does a good job of demystifying these three key concepts.

I can appreciate why he limits his focus, and in many ways, and for many businesses, it will make a lot of sense. Nevertheless, I like to think about digital much more broadly – as media and communication technologies attempting to expose the workings behind the world of digital – rather than being limited by different transmission methods.

Giannetto's book highlights that how a business uses big data, social media and mobile technology are key signs of a successful digital enterprise.

Many of the big companies we work with struggle with the same problem: making ‘digital’ a meaningful part of their business, so it’s understandable that Giannetto breaks things down to make it more accessible. The key components of embracing digital transformation are the same whether you’re a big or small business, and the strategic processes he outlines would work for all business sizes. There’s one particularly nice example where he talks about how his dentist uses mobile, but more of these smaller-scale examples would not go amiss.

Ultimately, Giannetto and I would agree on one thing: technology is changing everything about how we do business, and success depends on being adaptable – whether that be in terms of marketing, internal communication or training.

Key takeouts

  • Your social media presence needs to be a clear reflection of your company’s culture. Social consumers consider brands they buy from as part of their identity online. Make sure they know what they’re getting.
  • Know how your customers use their mobile device, and how your app fits into that behaviour, rather than expecting them to form new habits.
  • Integrate. Break down traditional silos within your business and get processes working across departments. Train staff to embrace a wider skill set, rather than old-fashioned specialisations.
  • Businesses often just collect data, and think that’s big data done. You need to analyse data to make it meaningful.
  • Check your metrics. Make sure they’re meaningful to the business and don’t be seduced by large numbers of followers and downloads.
  • Think about ‘micromarketing’. Giannetto’s breakdown of this process is one of the best I’ve read.

Big Social Mobile by David F Giannetto is published by Palgrave Macmillan.