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Tech in check: OCBC Bank's head of digital Cedric Dias

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Often faced with the ever and fast changing pace of digital, it’s no wonder that marketers are expected to be the ones moving the needle when it comes to an organisation’s digital transformation.Through this series, we hope to better understand what the common challenges in digital are and how marketers can bounce back from it quickly to keep up with the pace of change. This is while understanding that the process to digital transformation is an ever changing one.Kicking off the series is Cedric Dias (pictured), head of digital marketing, consumer financial services Singapore, OCBC Bank. In his current role, Dias is tasked with growing the digital footprint, creating meaningful engagements with consumers and meeting digital channel KPIs. He also leads the product marketing and silver segment portfolios and is responsible for the bank’s digital assets.Before OCBC, Dias was at Havas Media for four years leading the digital business where he launched the Socialyse Brand in SG. He has honed his marketing skills across South Asia and SEA with 10 years of marketing and P&L experience at Western Union, backed by four years of sales and marketing with a FMCG in India.Also passionate about spreading digital literacy, Dias has been an adjunct lecturer at NUS ISS and is currently tasked with building digital literacy across OCBC Bank. He shares with Marketing his journey from agency to client-side as well as his biggest lessons in digital and technology.Marketing: What was your first digital role like?My first digital role was at Havas Media in 2011 and I had to start from the very bottom – supporting the digital team at pitches and being one of two persons doing Social Media at the agency. It was a tremendous learning for me, a newbie who had just switched careers, and the learning was certainly fast and furious.There was both good and bad to it. The bad thing was the learning through mistakes (which I must say were not just a few), but the good thing was that, since digital was in its infancy, we could get away with making and learning from mistakes at that time.Marketing: What was your biggest tech blunder? There are two that come to mind immediately. At Havas Media, there was the launch of a campaign involving the building of a multi-country campaign microsite for a client (this was in 2013) and not enough time was devoted to quality control (QC) before the final launch. The whole execution was a disaster, with multiple bugs still existing when the campaign went live.The campaign was extremely successful in driving traffic to the site, but with the bugs not fixed, it led to a very bad customer experience and multiple complaints from both customers and the client. My team spent almost two weeks fixing the issues.In my current role, in 2015, we launched a new site, but without any analytics tags. There was a marketing push with significant dollars put behind the campaign, and this came to light only two weeks after the campaign was launched, when the first review was initiated. There was absolutely no data, which meant that there was no way to report on success (or otherwise). It was quite embarrassing for me as a digital lead to explain that the agency forgot to put in the tags.Marketing: How did you overcome it and what did you learn from it?It was difficult to overcome both the situations since the solution lay in the planning and execution. However, the learning was pretty clear.Ensure you have enough time for planning digital projects – In most projects, quality control is rushed and this needs to be built in with buffer time. This is critical and I am sure most of my digital counterparts will understand the gravity of what I mean.Have a proper checklist for all digital executions – whether it is MarTech, media, social or others. There are multiple boxes to be checked and it is very easy to forget and miss some steps. In many cases, things will resolve itself – but you don’t want to leave it for when things go really wrong.Marketing: What are some of the common challenges you face with digital today?Digital is still a relatively new field and it is still a challenge to convince stakeholders why we need to do certain things like invest in new technology or try new options, as many of these are not proven yet, especially in Singapore. The good thing here is that most stakeholders know and understand that digital will be a bigger part of marketing going forward, and are willing to give it a listening ear. The second challenge is hiring people with the relevant skills.Digital is a very vast landscape and we need a good mix of generalists and specialists, many of whom fall short of expectations.Lastly, keeping up with this fast-moving industry is a challenge. Things that we have done, even just six months ago, need to be un-learnt and updated.Marketing: Are there any digital trends which excite you or that you are wary of? The most exciting trends we see now are personalisation and the data ecosystem, both of which have risen largely due to the huge advances in technology in the past two to three years. These excite and make me wary at the same time.They are exciting because, as a marketer, the potential we see in making messages relevant and personalised to each customer at scale (as companies leverage data well, and partner each other to create shared value to customers) is something that seems like a mirage which has come true.It is a challenge that stretches the imagination and makes my job meaningful and exciting on a day to day basis. However, the same technology makes me wary as a customer, as power in the hands of marketers (e.g. knowledge that companies like Google and Facebook have today) is quite scary.Marketing: Any top tips for marketers and brands embracing digital?I have two tips for marketers embracing digital:Get your hands dirty – I have held many interviews where candidates come in with very good CV’s, but only have a superficial understanding of digital and cannot answer questions in depth. You can only know digital when you get the basics right.Keep learning – The field changes every day and you need to keep up to stay ahead. For brands, the tip is to “stay the course”. Success comes with trying things and you need to keep testing and learning continuously.

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