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#ComeBackStronger: why CTI Digital is feeling optimistic about the future

Returning to another national lockdown has presented its challenges to businesses continuing to navigate the current economic climate. However, with the news of a potentially successful vaccine hitting the headlines recently, which resulted in the FTSE 100 recovering to the highest level since June, the economy is finally starting to show promising signs of recovery.

For the latest instalment of our #ComeBackStronger series, we connected with Nick Rhind, CEO and founder, CTI Digital, an award-winning full-service digital agency, about what he’s been up to through the duration of the pandemic and how the events of recent months have really proven the need for businesses to embrace technology.

This is what he had to say…

How are you accelerating company growth in the current climate?

Over the last few years, we’ve worked hard to scale the business, while ensuring we remain efficient plus profitable. Even pre-COVID, value for money was a huge priority for clients with many looking for more agility and speed, while of course having access to support from experts.

Over the last year specifically, we’ve really doubled down on acquisitions. Before the pandemic we acquired two agencies and we’re on the cusp of acquiring two more, which will increase our size by 40%. The pandemic has resulted in other businesses being more receptive to mergers and acquisitions, which has allowed us to really strengthen our existing offering, bolster our team, in turn helping us to accelerate growth.

Recent months have also really taught us the importance of ensuring we’re not siloed to one specific industry as many sectors, that appeared incredibly resilient pre-pandemic, changed significantly overnight. Traditionally, we have always focused primarily on eCommerce and leisure and, while one essentially doubled overnight, the latter has been faced with great challenges.

Where do you see your future opportunities lying?

eCommerce will continue to be a huge area of growth for us. This really is an exciting time for the sector, as many retailers look to recreate the high street experience by integrating augmented reality (AR) experiences into their online stores. Technology presents retailers with a great opportunity to create exciting and unique experiences for their consumers, like seeing what they may look like in an item of clothing without actually having to visit a physical bricks and mortar store.

Digital is bigger than ever before, with many consumers now losing that initial fear of buying online and having to return a product they no longer want/need, as processes consistently become more and more efficient, in turn eliminating that fear.

We’re already starting to see consumers make more considered purchases online and from the comfort of their own home. Many are even turning to digital channels to make significant purchases like sofas, cars and homes, that they wouldn’t have considered in anything but a physical location previously. 

Additionally, the struggles the leisure and entertainment industry have faced in recent months have resulted in a growing willingness to embrace technology. We’ve seen theatres creating digital experiences to generate income and, thanks to the technology, many have been able to create a truly immersive experience for audiences to enjoy remotely. For these industries specifically, we’re excited to see what’s in store as more organisations across both sectors look to the future and the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI), plus immersive experiences.

What are you most optimistic about?

That the fear of change is disappearing! People really are now more willing to evolve and make different lifestyle/purchase choices.

If you think back to a year ago, there weren’t that many people working from home and now we have such a high proportion of the country doing it – with many looking to adopt a very much mixed approach, which is interesting to see. There are of course the cultural challenges and ensuring everyone feels part of the team, even while they’re at home, but this has created a really great community of everyone supporting each other.

Digital transformation has been accelerated by around five years too, leading to a better lifestyle and in many senses, a better work-life balance for a lot of people as processes have become much more streamlined.

What are you looking forward to implementing/changing?

Embracing change, thinking differently and not being afraid to take risks. We’ve seen more new business owners and more people showcasing entrepreneurial traits recently than ever before – more people really are just going for it, and it’s times like these that we see that spirit come alive.  

As we get older, we traditionally become more risk averse and build mental barriers, which is why we’re seeing lot of new yet young millionaires – as they don’t worry about the risk as much.

The world changed overnight back in March but, amongst everything that’s happened, we’re more connected than ever - thanks to platforms like Zoom, which really are bringing people closer together on an international scale. While the world will continue to change, the tech we’ve seen adopted in recent months is here to stay and with that is the ethos of people checking in on one another more often. We’ve seen some great cultural changes, including the understanding of the importance of mental health and wellbeing, as well as why it’s essential to support each other.

What opportunities have you seen arise?

Our recent opportunities have very much been centred around acquisitions. Exciting prospects have arisen with companies we’ve always wanted to make deals with but, because of the events of recent months, they’re now much more open to working together and have now started to see the value of collaboration – particularly in the current uncertain climate.

On a personal level, I’ve taken much more time to connect with family more often and have been much more disciplined on my time-keeping and connecting with my parents more via video chat.

How are you remaining positive?

Times of crisis often result in a great deal of innovation. The world is moving at a much faster pace and with speed comes innovation. You only have to look at the amazing work the medical sector is doing and how quickly an effective vaccine has been developed.

It’s times like these we all become much better problem solvers – and in many cases, produce some of our best work.

How are you maintaining a work/life balance and ensuring family time?

I’ve been Zooming a lot to catch up with family outside of my household and, because I’m at home more, I’m also able to spend much more time with the kids doing outdoor activities like cycling and roller-skating – we’ve even built a wood cabin in the garden. As a result, I’m also now much more conscious of my kids’ wellbeing and ensuring I’m giving them the time and attention they need, and just being the best dad possible.

What have been your key learnings from the last few months?

To expect change – and no matter how much you plan, you really can’t plan for things you don’t know about i.e. a global health pandemic.

The constantly changing government guidelines have also taught us the importance of making quick plans and even quicker decisions – and to not be afraid of getting things wrong. Being agile is essential, but we can’t plan for impact until it actually happens. It’s okay to accept things are out of your control but, having a great team around you, will help you battle for what’s next.

What else are you doing to prepare for the future?

We’re heavily investing in our team and giving them a future in which they can build and grow. We’re allowing them to fail, while supporting them in finding the solution for any issues they’re facing.

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