Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Reasons to be Cheerful: Carl Uminski, Co-Founder and COO at Somo

As the coronavirus pandemic has quickly become the new normal, NDA wants to celebrate the positives of our current situation.

We asked Carl Uminski, Co-Founder and COO at Somo, what he had to be cheerful about at the moment. 

What technologies have you been most impressed with during this new situation?

While this is a difficult time, it’s also a very interesting time for innovation. A lot of great ideas were born from the crisis, Airbnb for example was launched in the 2008 financial crisis.

We’re seeing a number of brands that are adapting quickly and launching solutions to help those in need. These include We are Social’s Snap AR lens to help people with social distancing; and Nextdoor’s Help Map, a new interactive map to let neighbours offer and find help in these testing times – such as collecting shopping, medications or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, phone check-ins, or childcare. 

Another great example is COVID Credit PoC: to help self-employed easily certify lost income. The service uses Open Banking protocols to aggregate data from an individual’s bank accounts. Algorithms are then used to calculate income and generate a proof statement for the self-employed that can be used to apply for the grant. 

What, if any, positive long-term impact on the digital industry will coronavirus have?

It’s an opportunity to think bigger, to think differently and to truly innovate.

The majority of businesses are forced outside of their comfort zone, but that’s not the case for the digital industry. This is the time we can really advance the status quo and start a better way of doing digital – with customer needs at the heart of the process.

Digital has been on the agenda for almost all businesses, but some haven’t been taking it seriously enough. Launching a simple website or flashy gimmicks is not enough to spark real change. Coronavirus will show that delivering meaningful digital experiences should become the priority and that mastering all three pillars of digital transformation – culture, processes and technology – is key to success, digital-only environment or not.

Ten years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible. But with the current tech landscape, we have an enormous opportunity to use this time to create new, better ways of working, fostering our culture, rethinking our processes and building products that matter. 

What positive impacts on long-term consumer behaviour shifts will it have?

We’ve already seen a massive shift in consumer behaviour prior to the Coronavirus disruption, with digital playing a key role in the customer purchase decision-making process and the purchase journey as a whole, such as buying cars online.

The shift will continue to evolve, and as digital becomes the new normal during the lockdown, it will reach parts of the society that were not using digital to its full potential.

As an increasing number of consumers are forced to look for alternative ways of getting things done, digital will become even more embedded in their everyday life after the crisis – and will become an even more crucial area of focus for brands. 

What positive impacts have you seen on how your business operates?

We moved our operations online within just a few hours and have seen enhanced collaboration and increased productivity (e.g. decreasing the number of meetings and focusing on what truly matters; using digital tools to aid collaboration, etc.)

We’ve found new ways to deliver work and continue business as usual, such as remote client workshops.

The overall impact has been to create a sense of togetherness, building on our culture and employee experience, such as using Zoom chit-chat channels to aid with mental wellbeing, and quarantine craft to keep the team morale high.

What have you been most heartened about in how your staff, partners, customers or clients have reacted to the new normal?

I’ve been so pleased to see our company culture really shining through.

In the early days, the teams came together to come up with ways to stay connected, productive and sane. These are difficult times that may need some difficult decisions; our staff is very understanding and doing their best to help in these challenging times 

 Our clients have shown huge willingness to try new ways of working and continue on the projects – delivering the right digital products and experiences is now more important than ever and is key to survival.