This week, we’re lucky enough to be featuring a Q&A with the one and only Deborah Meaden! Deborah is a successful businesswoman, investor, and star of Dragons’ Den, as well as being an all-round inspiration to business professionals and entrepreneurs around the world.
We’ve been asking Deborah how she keeps up with emerging digital trends and technologies, what advice she’d give to small businesses on how to stay competitive digitally, the impact the pandemic has had on the digital world, and more tips and tricks to help you embrace digital.
Read Digital Women’s full Q&A with Deborah Meaden below.
Hi Deborah! We’ll jump straight in. How have digital skills played a role in your career and your success as an entrepreneur?
One of my early businesses, Weststar Holidays, was the first to adopt a fully integrated online booking system and although being the first of anything brings its issues, it meant we were well ahead of the competition in understanding the online piece across all our processes. The benefits of being ahead instead of playing catch up has always stuck with me.
What advice would you give to businesses, especially small businesses, on how to stay competitive digitally?
Things move pretty fast in the digital space, so constantly looking forward to evermore engaging ways of interacting with your customer, keeping an eye on what others are doing and find a way of delivering it better, and making sure you understand any new digital products and how they may fit with your offering are all essential if you are to stay competitive. Oh…and never ever stop being a user!
How do you keep up to date with emerging digital trends and technologies?
I am in the fortunate position of being across dozens of businesses, all with online presence, and I am always keen to understand what is new, what is working, and what tools they are using to optimise their business. I guess the key is to keep an eye out, keep your mind open, and be prepared to learn at every opportunity!
What do you think are the key digital skills and advancements to look out for in the near future? For instance, what role do you think AI will play going forward for businesses?
Well, data analysis will continue to be at the heart of any digital strategy, but as consumers become more aware of the use of their data and associated risks, so too will the need for network and information security. Smart and agile design throughout the user experience will need to be consistent across all devices and of course user-friendly and fresh mobile content. But probably the most exciting development we are seeing is in AI which will be transformational in the way we all do business in terms of automating business processes, gaining insight through data analysis, and engaging with customers and employees.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected businesses digitally and changed the landscape of business? What advice would you give to businesses impacted by the pandemic?
Covid-19 has forced many businesses to act on the discussions around remote working which have been going on for years. Most businesses have been pleasantly surprised at how much work can be done remotely and this legacy will continue beyond Covid. The consumer has also been forced to change and the boost in online activity is well documented. These changes had to happen quite rapidly and it will be increasingly important that time is taken to review the processes and interconnectivity of the changes that have been made….there will always be ways to improve, but ensuring the changes are made from a good understanding and sound platform will ensure they are for the better long term.
Are there any tips you could suggest that would help businesses future-proof themselves in such a rapidly evolving digital world?
That’s easy. Eyes open, ears to the ground, and always consider everything through the eyes of your customer.
Wow…plenty of fantastic insights and tips from Deborah Meaden to help you with your digital business strategy. If you’d like to read more advice from Deborah, visit her website where she has a page dedicated to advice for businesses, including researching, planning, and pitching with confidence.