Here is my insightful chat with Mark Cameron

In the lead up to our event on 22nd May, I had the pleasure of sitting down for a chat. Please see my insightful chat with Mark Cameron, please e-meet (though I’m sure you may already know of him) Mark Cameron, Digital Strategist, keynote speaker, media commentator and CEO W3 Digital (which is a customer experience and digital transformation consultancy).

Mark has worked on a vast array of digital and customer focused projects including major political elections, global brand strategy, innovation strategy, transformation initiatives, and digital product development a few of the things you may know Mark by include;

  • Digital strategy columnist for BRW for over 5 years.
  • Columnist for Major Australian magazines Marketing Magazine and
  • Columnist for global publications such as Marketing Week and Smart Data Collective.
  • His writing has also been featured in The Australian Financial Review, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
  • The only person in Australia to be certified as an Experience Economy Expert, the framework that brands like Lego, Ikea and Disney use to develop and commercialise their customer experience.

Please tell us about your journey, how did you get into Digital?

  • I started my career in an advertising agency in NZ, the office Jnr. I worked my way up and then went off to design School. After school started some early website roles, in the early ’90s before Google was a thing! Then joined hyperactive which was eventually bought out by Accenture. By this time (mid to late 2000) I had quite a few big web projects under my belt and in 2001 came to Melbourne for a bit en route to my big role in New York, but then September 11 happened and everything stopped. I was doing freelance work for some well known FMCG clients and stayed in Melbourne, 2003 joined Working three. By 2007 I took it over and over the years through a few iterations I’ve turned it into a digital transformation agency. Working with companies such as SAP North America, GSK, AustraliaPost and Telstra.

I understand you are a certified Experience Economy Expert, that you were the 225th person in the world to earn that title — and the first person in Australia. How did you get this qualification and what drove you to get certified? can you share with us some of the key concepts?

  • Few years ago whilst working with SAP in Nth America, met a guy called Joe Pine he is the author of Mass customisation and the experience economy (He coined both these phrases).

Joseph Pine II is an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, and management advisor to Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurial start-ups alike. In his speaking and teaching activities, Mr. Pine has addressed both the World Economic Forum and TED, and is a Visiting Scholar with the MIT Design Lab. He has also taught at Penn State, Duke Corporate Education, the University of Minnesota, UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management, and the Harvard Design School. He serves on the editorial boards of Strategy & Leadership and Strategic Direction and is a Senior Fellow with both the Design Futures Council and the European Centre for the Experience Economy, which he co-founded. For more, see

  • We kept in touch and Joe reached out and asked me to come to the US and get certified, at their offices called Strategic Horizons LLP, a thinking studio dedicated to helping businesses conceive and design new ways of adding value to their economic offerings.
  • They only accept 4-5 people a year, I went through the process it was pretty amazing. The way they broke down the approach is incredible, they turned “experience design” into an experience itself, getting you to look at who are your actors, what is your stage, what is your script? They really think of all the elements involved in the process of developing the experience.
  • They have a different angle from many other academic approaches on how to make the customer experience and experience of design understood and accessible. In recent years it has become very academic, Joe and his business partner are turning this on its head to make it accessible and easy to understand, as in order for it to get the traction it needs business leaders need to easily get it!

Tell us more about your design lead philosophy?

  • Happy to answer that from the perspective of Digital Transformation. First Let’s unpack what Digital Transformation means, it means different things to different people and it continues to evolve. The language has changed and the meaning has morphed, Digital Transformation was initially very technology lead. Initially, it was all about cost out of a business “how do we keep wages flat” or “reduce headcount with Digital Transformation. Then it became Digital Transformation which was all about the customer- the customer marketing tools – marketing automation, personalisation etc.
  • In recent times particularly after businesses have found out more about their customer, its focus is now all about business transformation. Most importantly how businesses can find new ways, what is the business cadence in a rapidly evolving market? The business model revolution as opposed to doing things faster- marketing, accounting etc. Its all about how can we reinvent our business around a digital world?
  • A design lead approach means you have to break through the entrenched ideas and old thinking that “they can control this (their brand externally), and control that”. Corporate culture wants to jump to the solution. In the past companies identify a problem then rush to develop the solution, you start working on the solution sometimes for years and don’t fix the problem or it can take years to get any traction with the solution as it’s not really solving the problem.
  • With a design lead approach, you investigate more than before you go back to the problem, you go back to the customer and you ask questions and take the themes that emerge and continue to dig beneath to uncover the real issues.
  • From the designer thinking, he/she wants to spend time unpacking the problem, because if we really understand the problem the solution should be self-evident.
  • For many businesses, it can feel like you’re in research for a long time, but once you get momentum developing the solution is fast and most importantly effective.

One of my favourite quotes in life is “the same consciousness that created the issue can’t solve it”- Everything is about the customer experience, whom do you see doing this really well? who do you see is really stuck and why?

  • Nike plus is a great example globally of how they putt the customer experience first- the brand is all about performance, so they merged the digital world and created an ecosystem all the way to the Apple Watch.
  • Locally I think Grilled is doing customer experience really well.
  • Many brands in Australia a confused about customer experience and price. Price (price beat) is a hygiene factor, for instance when you go into Bunnings the best part of the experience is the service, not the price guarantee, how they deal with your issues and returns and of course the sausage keep you coming back!
  • Many companies are really getting lost, they are trying to boil the ocean instead of just think of the 1-2 things they can do better than anyone else.
  • Australian Retail has maintained a level of complacency and arrogance for a very long time. They have been singing “our economy is doing fine” and did nothing for years! Now its catch up time and they are trying to make everything work, racing up the personalisation curve and data curve and inevitably what happens is they do nothing well.
  • Business in Australia have held off investing for a long time, I really noticed when working with the US, they were in pain, the GFC but they are in a state of acceptance. They know they needed to look at everything in a new way and 90% of things they take on test and trial possibly will fail but the 10% of things they do would do the opposite and would be amazing. The most exciting part is during the process it changes the culture, re-sets is so much so it builds the foundation for the next 50 years of business.
  • Australia, however, is now trying to leapfrog, we need to accept that we need to fail. The burning platform hasn’t been here that’s why complacency has been alive and well. Intergenerational conversations are going on but really the issue here in Australia is fear of change.
  • We have had growth year after year- why change!

Nothing breeds innovation like a necessity- if the burning platform is not there they don’t change.

  • I am however really encouraged in hearing at a board level the patterns in the US are starting to happen here. High performing CEO are being asked about their customer strategy, boards are demanding their CEO have a forward plan and true customer and digital strategy this risk of not having forward-looking plans is too much of a risk and in many cases, they push the CEO out. It needs to be all about new ways of working, ensuring sustainability and reducing risk.

2017 You stated in one of your blogs “Developing capabilities now, both human and technological, that create focus and velocity among the resources and processes within your organisation has to be a priority. ” What in this still as relevant today? What are the current opportunities?

  • More in focus now is what is your operations model, is it less of the old model “command, control and extract as much value out of your product as possible”
  • If your market is moving you become nowhere fast. The question is how do you improve the business cadence and respond to a dynamic environment? How does the organisation work in a dynamic environment- You still need structure and process but you need to fatten out the organisation and build in things like continual customer enquiry.

Its key to knowing what your customers are actually saying. What do they want?

  • The Banks just worried about their NPS score and look at what happened there! NPS is the only old metrics the boards tick off. You need a deep down into what is your customer trying to tell you?
  • Imagine if the banks knew this? maybe we wouldn’t have needed a royal commission- if they would have listened they would have known.

Beyond Social platforms, mobile apps, analytics, understanding customer journey and the performance of services what do you see as the top trends are for 2019/2020?

  • Trends are going to be what the software companies want us to buy; AI, “machine learning cut up”, marketing automation, more optimisation. It’s going to come thick and fast product, service platform and rammed down our necks!
  • However, the big trend is happening at the board level. They are looking at how do we structure an organisation that is sustainable and growth focused. The businesses should be thinking deeply about who is the customer- who are you serving. For instance the old thinking from an Education standpoint, who were they selling to? originally it was academic, then it moved to the student however it’s really the Industry that is bidding for the students.
  • People are having to learn to deal with that balancing and ambiguity, boards are getting their arms around the new thinking and are expecting their teams to be all around changing the way the organisation works.

We are delighted to host at Digital Women’s Network, Mark Cameron on the topic of the ever-changing digital landscape! On the night we will explore what all business should be doing digitally, unpack the landscape, explore design thinking and its application. Discuss the digital trends, tools, service design, digital innovation and customer data strategy. Hope that you can come along and hear more from Mark and our incredible line up of speakers including;

Katrina McCarter, International speaker, Founder and CEO of Marketing to Mums

Lisa Wade Founder and Principal of

Join us to network the evening away, meet like minds and enjoy the Grossi hospitality.

  • Arlechin.
  • May 22nd 2019
  • 6-8:30 pm
  • Mornane Pl, Melbourne VIC 3000 (in the alleyway just behind Grossi Florentino)
  • Nibbles provided by Grossi!

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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