Press release: Annual trading statement from the Director of Digital Strategy Consulting Ltd.

20/11/2008

Principle Activity

The company's principle activities during the period continued to cluster around the two core areas of supplying training services (under the ‘Digital Training Academy’ brand and consultancy services (under the ‘Digital Strategy’ brand to firms making the transition into the digital networked economy.

Director's statement

As digital marketing reaches the mainstream, country by country industry attitudes are changing. First email, then the web, and more recently communities and social networks have become part of the everyday routine. They create new opportunities for firms to communicate but also present material risks and challenges in how that communication takes place.

Our forecast from 2004 of online advertising spend overtaking TV by the start of 2010 continues to look certain and quantifies the true scale of change in the sectors we service. As firms shift their focus they need guidance in how to make this happen effectively and how their teams can make effective judgements about how to progress. Companies transiting into the digital networked economy are easily seduced by the opportunity but can equally easily misread the landscape, exposing themselves to huge commercial risk. Digital Strategy Consulting was created to support firms through this transition both by building stronger digital teams (through coaching and training), and accelerating the digital aspects of the brands (through the consulting practice). Models and approaches we developed from 2000 onwards have been proven to provide the right frameworks to achieve this, and have been successfully built upon, with new layers of ideas, structure and analysis.

Digital Training Academy: building stronger digital teams

Investment in the creation and delivery of Digital Training Academy courses continued, with the company meeting its targets of developing one new lesson every week and upgrading a further lesson, and running Digital Training Academies in more than ten countries. The number of Academies swelled to 28, with the advanced courses becoming the most popular in our three levels. Partnerships continued to be run for public access courses with European trade associations, as well as our own public access training courses here in the UK. In-company training continued to be the major growth area, with Digital developing course structures that could be deployed by corporate clients across many markets.
In training, we will complete the period of consolidation and development in the first part of 2008, rebuilding our training courses into a clearer and broader portfolio, with upgraded materials and new exercises and approaches. The competency models we developed for benchmarking performance will be expanded and along with the lessons these will be integrated into the online learning platform which will expand further. By embracing blended learning our business is better placed to scale so online learning will include deeper exercises and video content for the first time. We will refocus on large corporate programmes and gradually withdraw from the public access courses in the UK and Europe, to focus on where the more substantial budgets are.

Digital Strategy Consulting: accelerating digital brands

The consulting practice continued to transform the firms it touched, helping engineer new product strategies and new growth plans for firms from Europe, Middle East and North America. Our work to accelerate the sector's trade associations was finally completed in Europe, New Zealand and Central America, and here in the UK market (the first for us to accelerate back in 2000) the online ad economy reached the highest percentages of digital marketing spend worldwide – in part a reflection of the role our team played in stimulating the industry. The network of Digital Associates that support the consulting activities grew, and with this, so too did the reach of the news services and marketing publications we created such as Digital Intelligence and Digital Thought Leaders.

In the strategy practice we have completed the refocus away from supporting industry initiatives such as the many trade associations we helped create around the world, in favour of publishers and brands that need product strategies or have web-centric business models.

Key performance indicators

Training
Number of countries training courses delivered in - 18 (inc. Singapore and Mexico)
Average satisfaction rate from training - 4.1/5
Number of Digital Training Academy courses - 28
Most popular Digital Training Academy - Media Sales
Strategy
CSR award recipient - Marie Stopes International
Most prestigious client - Cabinet Office
Marketing
Number of conference speeches - 21
Google rank for ‘digital strategy’ - 2
Google indexed pages for DigitalStrategyConsulting.com - 768
Google indexed pages for DigitalTrainingAcademy.com - 187
Number of publications produced - 26

Operations

To support this growth, the company moved into larger offices to London's Soho district, expanded the central support team and recruited additional specialists to lead on consultancy and training projects. To support international operations we began recruiting a network of freelance and part-time support staff in Europe, North America and Asia.
Behind the scenes we began a complete rebuild of the training courses with an upgraded instructional design approach, new branding, and a new model for relationships with learners. We used external funding to support this, develop more courses and aligning existing courses more rigidly behind the three levels of Orientation, Advanced and Masterclass. We also invested heavily in online learning, developing a basic online learning platform to support all of the most popular training programmes. In addition the investment enabled specialist online classrooms to be created for every long term corporate client, and we continue to research new approaches to online learning for extending this further in 2008.

We restructured the team, and recruited at a more senior level in the areas of project management, finance, research and training management. We increased the resilience of our infrastructure further to support business growth in 2008 and 2009, which included new servers and back-up processes, investing in stronger databases to manage our client relationships, disaster recovery and offsite archiving.

Trading outlook

Although the macro economic outlook for 2008 is uncertain, we are confident that the products we create continue to provide a compelling proposition because they allow companies to get the thinking right in one of their key channels for communication. The training courses have been recognised by clients and competitors as being among the best in the world, and firms like the BBC and Microsoft continue to trust us with vital parts of their development. We are expecting strong orders throughout 2008 with a significant increase in the average order value for training as well as the level of sophistication in the training we deliver. Having focussed on product development in 2007 we expect an appropriate increase in turnover and the recovery of that investment by the end of 2008.

Strategic plan

Throughout the next year we will be completing the new training courses and then developing the marketing materials to support them. There will be additional systems and infrastructure going into place in the areas of finance and administration. In our publishing operations we will be increasing the volumes of our outputs and integrating the publications more tightly into our strategy and training activities.

Copies of our full accounts and abbreviated accounts are available from Digital’s finance director.

Danny Meadows-Klue
Founder & CEO
Digital Strategy Consulting Ltd.

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