Richard Townsend
Mar 15, 2018

Circus Street co-founder speaks on digital transformation

With digital evolution still the hot topic of boardroom conversation, we explore the best ways to train up and prepare your teams in 2018.

Richard Townsend, chief executive and co-founder, Circus Street
Richard Townsend, chief executive and co-founder, Circus Street

2017 was a rocky year for the marketing industry. With viewability scandals and brand safety concerns alongside discrepancies in research and audience data, there is no doubt that had the industry understood digital better, the mistakes and errors that came to a head last year might never have happened. The key takeout from a tough 2017? Get your digital knowledge up to speed fast, or risk being exposed.

At Circus Street, we’re lucky enough to be helping some of the world’s biggest brands upskill in digital to aid their global transformation programmes. Our experience gives us a unique insight into how to implement successful training programmes and like our clients, we’re constantly learning how to do our jobs better. 

It all starts with education

Progressive, forward-thinking C-Suite executives like Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever, recognise that people are the best growth strategy for a business. “We’ve got to be much more passionate about skills and training”, Weed said at Cannes 2017. “With the market changing as fast as it is changing people need to continually skill themselves up. I’ve made digital training compulsory including, by the way, for my colleagues on the executive.” According to a global survey of CIOs carried out by Logicalis, 43 percent of APAC CIOs cite a lack of skills as the main barrier to digital transformation: the first step of any transformation programme is to acknowledge that digital is a company-wide disruption that can only be adapted to by establishing a culture of continuous learning. 

The knowledge injection must come first

The 70/20/10 model for Learning & Development states that 10 percent of learning comes from formal training, 20 percent comes from peer interaction and the final 70 percent comes from learning on the job. In the context of digital transformation, the 10 percent of formal training needs to deliver a huge, rapid knowledge injection. We believe that the only way to do this, at pace and at scale, is by using technology that allows you to control and measure the process. 

Whichever solution you choose, it’s important that the 70 percent, the 20 percent and the 10 percent are all properly integrated. The only way you will be able to deliver and measure real change in behaviour across your entire organisation is if your training solutions are aligned across the board. 

Go big, go fast or go home

During the press conference announcing the acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop ended his speech saying, “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”. The world around them changed too fast and as a company they failed to keep up. 

The time for sitting around boardrooms talking about digital transformation has come and gone—2018 needs to be about action. Upskilling your teams and your organisation must be a priority when it comes to business transformation. When considering their approach to this business challenge, Fujitsu report, the Digital Transformation PACT says 68 percent of business leaders in Singapore admit that there is a clear lack of digital skills in their organisation, with 92 percent reporting that they are taking steps to increase their access to digital expertise.

Digital is the new business language, reaching across all departments and functions. Digital upskilling has to happen now and it has to happen at scale—and everyone in your business must upskill together. Only then will your employees feel empowered to step up as one, speak a common language, and break down traditional organisational silos.

The current discussion is all about how to become a forward-thinking business and create a culture of continuous learning around digital. At Circus Street, we’re experts in helping businesses deliver on that journey. As a Partner of Campaign 360, we’ll be looking forward to listening to the ongoing conversation around how digital transformation is impacting business in APAC and meeting some of you to dig deeper into digital disruption in 2018. 

To discover how we help prepare businesses for digital transformation, visit

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