There aren’t many of us you know. By ‘us’ I refer to ‘digital experts’, and by ‘digital experts’ I don’t mean somebody who blogs lots, knows how to use Facebook, or can even switch on a computer. I understand a man with one eye can be King in the Kingdom of the Blind, but let’s get some perspective… there are lots of cyclopes out there because there are legions of people bumping into coffee tables. Just because somebody knows more than you in a specific field of knowledge does not mean they are an expert… trust me… I’m an expert.
So what makes an ‘expert’? This surely is somebody with a deal of skill and knowledge, generally accorded authority by peers in the same industry, by virtue of credentials, training, education, profession, publication and experience.
By its nature it isn’t surprising that there are few digital experts. The industry itself has only been going 15 years, and most of the new starts to cyberspace business started between 1997/8 (when e-commerce started to heat up) and 2000. Why did it end in 2000? A big fat dot com bubble went bang! Lots of new geeks lost their jobs and went to work in other industries and a “generation was lost in space”.
You had to be in the right place at the right time. My first job was a digital job and my first redundancy was because of the dot com bubble bursting. I was 23 and sandwiched between the digital adopter (those who were older than 25 in 1995) and the digital native (those below 13 that year). We are Generation (e)X. Luckily I found another digital job right away and the rest is history.
I’ve seen a few digital adopters jump ship to digital in the last 5 years (you can tell these guys easily – reasonably handsome middle-aged white males with ipads and lots to say because they can memorise the tweets of other people well), and I have seen quite a number of university graduates come aboard in the same period… but frankly neither faction boasts ‘experts’.
1. adopters don’t have their heart in it – they have their wallet there – but not their heart. They aren’t capable of digital innovation and of sensing digital – their intuition was wasted on something else during their formative years (probably on CB radios and handles… Midnight Fox!)
2. they lack experience at a crucial time (web 2.0 was going strong at the end of the nineties – how many realise they’ve just repackaged it now that people have broadband and can use the damn thing – a bit like a 15 year old saying they love that new song called “she’s always a woman” by Marks and Spencer)
3. uni grads still don’t get taught digital in their marketing degrees (at least it doesn’t make up 30% of the course like it does in real-life – it’s only the biggest marketing medium professor!) Yes they are digital natives but haven’t a clue how to apply it. Oh, and btw, lol, don’t even mention their business acumen…