Fergal McHugh who found his mojo in digital consultancy, is the Head of Strategy at leading Irish performance marketing agency – Arekibo.
Fergal is responsible for overseeing Arekibo’s innovation and growth strategies. He works with the team at Arekibo on their digital strategic approach of, what and how to offer to the market. Working with their key customers, Fergal McHugh advises on efficient methods to shape their digital strategies that will support business growth. Giving a gist of what he does, Fergal says ‘It involves a range of activities from helping customers to understand their costs, developing associated business cases, to promoting digital programmes within the customer’s organisation.’
Headquartered in Dublin, Arekibo has an extended customer portfolio in Ireland, UK and Europe. Their core services range from digital strategy, overall planning to executing large-scale digital programmes with their customers. With Arekibo’s primary focus on online, they cater to digital marketing platforms, lead-generation strategies, investor relations platforms, large corporate websites and customer portals.
Fergal mentions, ‘I think that one of the key things that distinguishes Arekibo is our focus on programmes. The work we do with our customer, plays a significant role in getting them closer to their business goals. What this means in practical terms is that, we put equal emphasis on medium and longer term digital strategies, and not just on achieving short term goals.’
Recently, we had a compelling conversation with Fergal McHugh on Arekibo and his participation at 3XE Digital as a keynote speaker for the Conversion Marketing Conference on 8th February 2018:
3XE Digital: Tell us about your journey in the digital world and one thing that inspired you here.
Fergal: I started out as developer but I quickly realised my real interests were in consultancy. For me digital is at its most interesting at the intersection between commercial, marketing and technical visions. It is about finding the right balance between these elements.
3XE Digital: What will you be speaking about at 3XE Digital Conversion Conference?
Fergal: I will be talking about digital transformation programmes, how to get them off the ground, and how to get support in your organisation. I will also be talking about the ways to anticipate and manage the organisational changes required to make them work.
3XE Digital: What are the 3 takeaways that you think delegates will get from your presentation?
Fergal: I hope they will get a sense of both, the challenges that are faced in trying to get a transformation programme funded and started, and some effective ways in which these challenges can be met. Some takeaways could include:
- Address real problems in B2B: In a B2B space you’re going to work with prejudice of sorts, like, what you’re doing will cost a great deal of money, with a very little return to business! It is important to tackle these concerns head on. These worries are often found in real work experiences and in many cases, they are focused on high-risk possibilities. We have to work with this.
- Data supports decision: A ‘data data data’ mantra is quite prevalent now. Data has a crucial role to play in winning over stakeholders but it is not the whole story. You need a compelling vision too, and you may not have a data-point for every part of it. Ultimately the role of data is to support decision making, not to replace it. For example, in a B2B space if you want to pioneer change, it will involve a certain amount of ambition and willingness to take on some risk.
- Big picture of Transformation: There is a need to challenge the ‘narrow’ views on transformation. For example, to implement a new best-in-class digital marketing platform that integrates all your customer details, is not just about purchasing and rolling out technology. But it also involves building teams, changing job descriptions, processes and practices. It requires real change. Of course, it is important and sensible to contain and manage the impact, but you don’t want to neutralise either of the aspects. When you want to make a difference on online channels, actual power in the organisation has to be allocated.
3XE Digital: What emerging trends will affect your business during 2018?
Fergal: Talking primarily about the Irish market here – I think we are at a watershed moment. Confidence is regained, and firms want to be effectively positioned to take advantage of it. It’s a simple fact that a great many Irish firms are not where they need to be on digital – and they are starting to recognise this.
A certain amount of stagnation over the last eight or nine years has not helped. What we are seeing is a desire to remedy this neglect. Now, we are getting the opportunity to offer platforms and services in this market, that had very little traction previously, because of the investment required.
For instance, in space of Digital Content Management and Digital Marketing Platforms, Irish firms are now looking at products that lead the market globally – they are no longer satisfied with ‘good enough’, they want premium.
3XE Digital: What websites and people influence you on a day to day basis?
Fergal: I think you have to get insights in whatever way you can. I like to go broad, and a great deal of what I’m interested in will not be tagged as digital. Some of what passes for ‘thought leadership’ in digital is quite superficial – it’s topical but it lacks depth. You need to dig deeper and join the dots.
The people I learn most from, are our customers. At Arekibo we are typically interacting with very senior people in the customer’s organisation and they have difficult, complex roles. They also tend to know their business and their markets inside out. Obviously, we are there to support, advise, coach and so on, but the task is as much about translation as it is about bringing in something new.
How was year 2017 for you? What are your plans for this year?
2017 was an excellent year. We acquired a significant amount of new business, here and in Europe. We made serious progress on a new strategic goal, the roll out of a digital marketing platform offering with the Sitecore Experience Platform playing a starting role. Also in 2017, we established a new partnership with a leading Dutch digital transformation agency Macaw. This partnership is a real meeting of minds and we’ve already done some great work together. I am very excited about where it is going.
2018 is all about digital platform. We are making a huge push on delivering structured digital transformation programmes to our customers. The fact is that, digital transformation can be incredibly challenging, but we want to make it easier for people. We’ll help them break the challenges into chunks and get the opportunity to demonstrate real progress.
We are predicting that digital spending, in particular spending on digital platform will be going up significantly in 2018. Some of this is linked to recovery and overcoming previous neglect as I talked about earlier. But I also think that as an industry, we are doing a better job of letting people know what is possible and I think the market is responding.
Connect with Fergal McHugh and learn the most trending conversion insights from Irish leading performance marketing agency – Arekibo at 3XE Conference, on 8th February in Croke Park, Dublin.
Full agenda available at: https://3xedigital.com/dublin-feb-2018