Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Reasons to be Cheerful: Luke Judge, CEO, Incubeta

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

We spoke to Incubeta CEO Luke Judge about the positive impact he’s seen on company culture and the lessons to be learnt on the importance of investment in technology and digital transformation.

What positive impact have you seen on how you’re operating and what will last beyond this situation?

Closing the office in the way which we did has delivered a lot of positive impact. One of the really interesting developments in a very short space of time has been a really significant flattening of any hierarchy in the business, from a social engagement perspective. We didn’t have a strong hierarchy in the first place, but it has been further flattened.

I would put this down to the technology, such as Slack. The informality, the thumbs’ up, the dancing man GIFs, the different channels and the ability to drop in and out of it has been a game-changer for our business, COVID or no COVID.

We accelerated the implementation of Slack into the business because of COVID-19 and remote working. It’s enabled me to have chats with graduates who joined the business a few months ago; I can congratulate them on kudos given by a colleague in our Monday morning stand up – before that sort of interaction would have been much more difficult.

How is your company culture evolving?

The galvanised spirit in the team has been really pleasing to see. We already had a good spirit and culture but we know that we’re in a very different type of game now. There is an understanding of the difference between a finite game and an infinite game and I speak to the team about the new race that we’re in.

And this race is unusual, because we don’t know how long it is going to go on for. We don’t know which direction it might go. We don’t know which competitors may drop out at any given point. We’re not quite sure what tools we need, but yet, we’re still very much in this race and we’re really well positioned to get through it.

There’s a lot of opportunity to accelerate ourselves away from the pack, and the kind of galvanised wartime spirit we have now has been really positive for the business.

What are you most heartened about?

Most pleasing on a human level is how much people are caring for each other. The galvanised spirit that comes through in terms of mental health awareness and support for each other has been really positive and that won’t go away. We have four company values and I think a fifth value will very quickly and naturally become ‘care for one another’. That’s been amazing to see.

The second part of that galvanised spirit is the kind of collaboration that has heightened across individuals, teams and borders in our 16 offices. I’ve never seen so much collaboration just to get stuff done.

What advice are you giving your clients?

That there’s never been a better time to invest in the projects they never normally have time to do.

If you’re an airline, or a train company or a ticketing company, you probably had plans to redevelop your website, to build up your first-party data, or develop your video content. But you never got around to it, because you were always too busy servicing the customers booking today.

There are no customers booking today. So, get on with those projects so when your customers come back, you can serve them better.

How will the media landscape change following the pandemic?

CFOs will get a very quick lesson in the fluidity of digital marketing spend. The lesson will be that buying traditional media upfront left them in a much less flexible position than buying all of their media programmatically and digitally. When it comes to planning budgets for 2021, I imagine CFOs will have a keen eye on shifting spend into digital.

This concept of fluidity in the budgets is going to be interesting. Overall spend will go up for digital but in addition to the media spend there will come increased investment in the infrastructure.

The advertisers in every sector that come through this in a positive position will be those which invested in their digital maturity earlier than others. That invested in the cloud platforms to house their data, invested in their advertising technology platforms, invested in their creative technology and assets.

Those businesses will be the ones that that got those projects completed in advance of this and therefore learnings will be taken from them as case studies for those which believe this this may happen again.

 And if it does, this is how you’re going to be ready for it. By having invested in infrastructure and your technology maturity and digital transformation.