Just four months ago, news broke that industry heavy weight and former Dentsu Singapore managing director Christina Lim was joining start-up delivery service honestbee as vice president of marketing. Lim, known for her years working with NTUC FairPrice, is now a key member of the honestbee leadership team, and leads the marketing team as it continues to ramp up its integrated efforts to drive brand awareness and loyalty across all its business verticals.
Lim spent a decade at NTUC Fairprice, where she played a key role in the homegrown grocery retailer’s overall transformation as an innovative brand. She also held leadership positions in several leading agencies such as Publicis Singapore, TBWA Singapore and EURO RSCG Singapore (now known as Havas Worldwide Singapore).
We talk to her about her journey in the tech start-up space.
Marketing: What was your first digital role like?
My first foray into digital was in the mid 90s when the ad industry was still dominated by offline advertising and digital agencies were still in its nascent stage. My client at Singtel was keen to set up a webpage for their product line, we didn’t have the capability at the agency back then.
I rallied a team of enthusiasts which included a writer, an art director within the agency, and one of our friends who could code a webpage to make that happen (there was no webpage widget back then). It was a simple static site with a handful of pages, which worked very much like a digital brochure. Within less than a year, we were building the very first web site for Citibank in Singapore.
It was really exciting even though we had very steep learning curve. Limited resource and experience never stopped me from taking on something new. It all starts with a belief that it can be done.
Marketing: What was your biggest tech blunder?
Getting my Apple TV remote control to work? On a serious note, it was launching a digital project where the rest of company were still struggling to understand and implement, even though the benefits were well studied and proposal was endorsed by the management.
Fear of change and legacy can keep a corporation from reaping the reward of progress.
Marketing: How did you overcome it and what did you learn from it?
I learned the importance of educating and demonstrating and building believers on the ground. It’s not enough just to sell to the management. I have also learned to accept that sometimes the organisation is just not ready for change.
Marketing: What are some of the common challenges you face with digital today?
Unnecessary complexity. Just because the technology allows you to build fancy features, doesn’t mean you need to. I always start with these – what questions do we want answered? What is the real problem of the customer we want to solve?
When in doubt, always go back to the basic human truth – is it easy? Is it quick? Is it understandable?
I think it’s important to focus on delivering the human moment of truth in every digital experience. At honestbee, we’re very passionate about learning from our consumers across the eight markets we’re in across the region. We’re combining this understanding of consumers’ needs with our technology to continuously be part of moments that matter to consumers, by offering services that cater to their lifestyles.
Marketing: Are there any digital trends which excite you or that you are wary of?
Artificial Intelligence. Machines can learn and deduct mass amounts of individual and collective data at great speed such that they may know you better than you know yourself. We’re leveraging our data capabilities at honestbee to obtain a better understanding of the consumer journey, with the ambition to provide better recommendations that would add value to their overall experience with the product.
A.I. has shown great potential in providing automation, personalised experience and even companionship.
It is now nearly impossible to be invisible in the digital world. If personal data is defined as the data, whether true or not, about an individual who can be identified from that data, the current legislations about personal data protection are no longer adequate.
Marketing: Any tips for marketers and brands embracing digital?
This is the age of customer where customer comes first. Experience and walk a mile in the customers’ shoes to truly understand how technology should really work for them. True innovation is one that solves real problems. Get your hands dirty – I took up a crash course on R programming just to understand how data analysis is done while evaluating proposals to build a customer analytics platform.
Be in tune with the pace of business – Be pragmatic and be prepared to test, pivot and scale fast. We can’t always expect to build a Rolls Royce before we move ahead.