Why Brisbane's Chief Digital Officer Says Business Owners Should Embrace Humanity in an Increasingly Smart World

Why Brisbane’s Chief Digital Officer Says Business Owners Should Embrace Humanity in an Increasingly Smart World

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Cat Matson is the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) for the City of Brisbane. What does that mean exactly? Well, she leads the efforts in the digital transformation of the city as a means of accelerating economic growth and equipping small-to-medium enterprises with the digital skills to boost their business.

Apart from her extensive business strategy experience and her mighty personality, Cat stands apart because she looks at digital tech as an enabler, not an end outcome.

For Brisbane, she’s really looking to empower its people to be more effective to do what they want to do, without taking away the human elements.

So why does the Chief Digital Officer still value some old-fashioned human connectivity and interaction?

1. Nothing beats the word of mouth of good service.

The more that your business is validated by other people, the more successful you will be. This means that by prioritising good service, you’ll still win.

Do not underestimate the power of word of mouth because if I absolutely loved the friendliness and quality of my coffee at your coffee shop, you know that I’ll be telling three of my friends to go to your shop. More than likely, two out of those three friends will go to check it out.

Good service is still a point of differentiation, and digital can help you with visibility and discoverability. But quality of service still comes first.

2. Nothing beats the richness of serendipitous and unexpected moments in life.

A truly smart city will enhance the human experience, not take it away. If technology had its way, it would tell you when to wake up in the morning at a predetermined ideal wake up time. Your phone would tell you if your normal route to work was congested and map out a more efficient route for you. It would adjust your life to be as efficient as possible.

The downfall to this version of smart city would be that you would not walk down a new street because you were lost and discover something new. If you’re at max efficiency, you can not engineer randomly bumping into someone to have a conversation that may spark a collaboration.

A truly smart city will not lose synchronicity and humanness of life. To remain liveable, cities should not become algorithms.

So before you jump onto Snapchat and invest many of your resources into artificial intelligence software, consider if the technology truly will be enhancing your business. The opportunities that the digital world presents are exciting of course. But, as Cat so succinctly put it, “Digital for digital’s sake is the antithesis of digital transformation.


More details and topics that Cat and me spoke about can be found here.

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Author: Ronsley Vaz

Ronsley is the founder & chief day dreamer at AMPLIFY. He is an author, speaker & serial entrepreneur.

He has a Masters’ degree in Software Engineering and an MBA in Psychology and Leadership. He is known as the creator of We Are Podcast – the first Podcasting Conference in the Southern Hemisphere, and the host of The Bond Appetit Podcast and Should I Start a Podcast. He has an audience of over 3 million in 133 countries.

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