Digital has grown up – and so have we

As we celebrate our ‘coming of age’, we take a look at how digital has evolved over the past 18 years.

 

by Marty Drill30 June 2017

The first of July 2017 marks 18 years since Get Started made its entry into the world. The internet was in its infancy and many agencies were springing to life as its enormous possibilities beckoned. In this immature market, the scope of digital agency services was often broad and ill-defined. It would be fair to say we were naive – committed, but naive.

Fast-forward to today and the digital landscape is vastly different. Change is one of the few things that has remained consistent. After nearly two decades in the game I figure I’ve earnt the right to get a little nostalgic, so humour me while I take a stroll down memory lane and reflect on the ways that digital – and Get Started – have ‘grown up’.

The web has stopped being broadcast-only 

In the early days, brands largely had brochure-style websites that consisted of little more than an address, phone number and an ‘About us’ blurb. The communication was completely one-way. Since then, we’ve moved away from the publishing model where organisations talk at the user, to an experience model, where the specific user’s needs, motivations and behaviour are central. Brands have realised that aimlessly firing off messages at the wrong time, to the wrong audience, in the wrong context simply doesn’t work. Digital has given us the ability to track and optimise the customer’s path to purchase like never before and represents a fundamental change in the way we interact with our audiences. Essentially it boils down to this: if you’re talking to everyone, you’re not really talking to anyone. 

Digital has moved into the realm of marketing

When we first started out in the business of websites, we were talking to the IT department, almost without exception. As analytics tools improved, marketing teams started to realise that digital could provide them with a way to show their value – something boards of directors were increasingly demanding. As a result, marketers began to take up ownership of digital from the IT department. And as expectations around marketing accountability rose, digital agencies started to mature, refining their offering and aligning themselves with the marketing function. These days digital agencies are primarily dealing with their clients’ marketing departments. This is based on my own observations but it’s also backed up by recent research by CMO. And now what we’re starting to see is that digital is breaking away into its own internal team/department. Titles like Head of Digital or Chief Digital Officer are no longer the curiosities that they once were.

Digital agencies have become business partners 

In the old days, the role of the digital agency was about ‘build it, launch it, host it’. Things have changed – a lot. There’s a much better understanding now that a website is not something you can just set and forget. To get real results and remain relevant, digital assets require ongoing attention and focus. And brands now put a high value on agencies that can partner with them over the longer term to help them achieve their broader business goals. We had to evolve. There are still agencies out there that will be happy to churn out a basic website and send you on your way, but the better agencies have evolved from that. 

Content is starting to transcend the web

Ten years ago we created content exclusively for the web, then with smart phones came mobile sites and apps, and now we’re starting to create content in a completely platform-agnostic way. Kentico Cloud – and other headless CMS offerings – have made it possible to display content across websites, apps and other connected devices such as in-store touch-screens, from one centralised content hub. Imagine your digital billboard and your website were consistent by using the same image. As the Internet of Things expands, the need to create omni-channel content that can be repurposed for a range of different channels and devices will only continue to grow.

Physical location has become less relevant

As players in the tech industry, we are no longer constrained by geography. Get Started now has offices in six locations – Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Albury-Wodonga and Bali – plus partners in Hanoi, Poland and the Czech Republic. On any given day, we might also have five or more people working remotely away from our offices. Technology has evolved to the point that location doesn’t have to be a barrier anymore. When you accept this, you allow yourself to have access to the very best people for the job, wherever they happen to be. 

What’s next for Get Started?

While we reflect on the changes of the industry at large, Get Started has been undergoing its own behind-the-scenes birthday makeover (from both a brand image and service offering perspective). We’ve engaged Melbourne-based branding agency Seesaw to help give us a well-earned brand refresh. We’re very excited about this transformation and we’re aiming to reveal our new identity before the end of the year… So watch this space!

Finally, I want to thank you for supporting us recently and over the years. We have worked with extraordinary people across those 18 years and have developed many brands online and many careers. I believe that if you focus on people (team, clients and ultimately the user), you will get the strategy right as you engage with people about what they really want by focusing on what’s important to them. Through listening and understanding, we can influence.

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