Chief Digital Officer: 5 Questions with Brent Turner
A reprint of my interview with the Chief Digital Officer team.
Brent Turner is the Chief Digital Officer for MIT’s largest media brands and properties, where he’s responsible for meeting the needs of the most demanding digital audience on the planet: alumni, faculty, students, and administration of MIT.
Question 1: How do you define ‘digital strategy’?
“Digital is a platform. It is a platform for marketing. It is a platform for product development. It is a platform for socializing. And so much more.
A Digital Strategy is akin to any other overreaching strategy that needs to connect multiple tactics and specialties (e.g., marketing strategy, IT/IS strategy). Within a Digital Strategy are deep-dive tactical strategies (e.g., performance marketing strategies, user experience strategies, SEO strategies) and broad reaching tactic-connecting strategies (e.g., customer support, crisis communications, brand building).
Said another way, Digital Strategy is the umbrella framework of multiple tactic-specific and tool-based strategies that utilize digital as their platform.”
Question 2: You are employed by the most prestigious technology institution on the planet — how does that uniquely affect your position as a Chief Digital Officer?
“Prior to joining MIT, I was part of startups and advertising/communications agencies. In those environments we obsessed about our customers and focused on creating high quality, high performing deliverables in, what I thought, was a unique and intensive way.
Here at MIT, my teams and I work on our largest media brands and digital platforms. We still obsess about our customers and the quality of our deliverables. But we take our focus to an even greater level than I’ve previously experienced. Why? Our most passionate and engaged users are the alumni, faculty, students, and administration of this amazing technical institution. Some of them created the technologies we use, defined the business strategies we follow, and launched the vendors we partner with.
From the bottom of our technology stack, through our user experiences, to the top of our business strategies, our daily quest is to exceed the expectations of the best institute and best people in the world.
(No pressure there, right?)”
Question 3: What kind of mobile device(s) do you have, and what are your three favorite apps?
“In our office we have all sorts of devices that our team shares and tries. In my pocket is an iPhone. Most of my mobile work is with my MacBook Pro. I have an iPad, but it collects dust. (I will say, even as a longtime Mac user, Windows 8 on a phone and on a Surface has my attention.)
For my iPhone, two of my favorite apps revolve around my commute: Stitcher and Waze. I also keep Trello loaded at all times. [Ed Note: Trello is a productivity app.]”
Question 4: What’s the best part about being a Chief Digital Officer?
As people dive into those diagrams, they can see the diversification and the interconnection between all aspects of Digital.
For me, the best part of my role is being able to work with the wide variety of strategies, teams, technologies, and vendors that are encompassed in those diagrams. Every day brings a chance for discovering, launching, iterating, and measuring. Every day is a step forward to try something new and celebrate the success of something old.”
Question 5: What advice do you have for aspiring digital professionals?
“Digital is akin to most other professions. Many of the same rules apply.
Start by becoming a craftsman/craftswoman.
There is a huge landscape of channels, tools, and technologies that fall into Digital. You can have a very successful career by specializing or by diversifying. But whatever you do, focus on delivering quality. Start with learning, trying, and hacking, move to shipping, measuring, and iterating. Then repeat.
Everything around Digital changes quickly; therefore, “delivering quality” is a mindset and mission; it’s not a destination. The people who are best at Digital don’t want to only be Strategists, they want to be Doers who create and drive strategies.
They are craftsmen and craftswomen for life.”
By Brent Turner
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