Gather data. Image your business is an image, and each data point is a pixel. The more pixels you have, the better you can see the image. The same is true for businesses. The more data points you can measure, the clearer you’re going to be able to see how your business is working and identify any weaknesses. Remember, Digital Transformation is about incorporating data into your business operations to help you make the best-informed decisions.
As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kieran Gibb.
Kieran is Co-Founder & Director of Monogic, a data-powered F&B digital marketing agency leading digital transformation of restaurants and F&B businesses in Hong Kong. Kieran brings experience in data management to digital marketing, overseeing the implementation of data capture infrastructure and data-led marketing strategies for award-winning restaurant groups and F&B brands.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Thank you very much for having me!
After graduating from the University of Exeter in 2017, I initially pursued a career in Data Management before moving to Hong Kong in 2018, where I took an interest in Marketing. I became more and more involved in the Social Media Marketing scene in Hong Kong, which really helped me learn all the ins-and-outs of the Industry. I was around March of 2019, when the news of the Coronavirus broke out, that we really took the leap to start our company. The virus had the government imposing social distancing restrictions that really took a massive toll on particularly F&B businesses in Hong Kong and saw many of my favourite restaurants close doors indefinitely. We couldn’t sit idly by and watch businesses that didn’t know how to adapt suffer. So, combining my background working with data with my experience in Marketing and a life-long love of good food, I, with my partner Alexandra Leung, launched Monogic -Hong Kong’s first data-focused F&B Marketing Consultancy.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I think the funniest thing was, that there weren’t many funny mistakes. We grew really fast and didn’t really have time for making mistakes at first. My partner Alexandra had already been working in the F&B Industry for a few years and was somewhat renowned already by the time we started. Together with the social distancing measures put in place by the government, there was a huge surge in demand for smart, innovative, data-powered marketing solutions.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
It’s incredible really, that we really made it through sheer hard work. I remember days where I’d be working a full 8 hours at my day job, only to get home and keep working on Monogic. Not to mention weekends. I’d really like to thank my Partner, Alexandra Leung, who put in an incredible amount of effort handling things on her own for a few months while we were still growing. We were also really fortunate to have a mentor-figure, who has done the whole “Startup” timeline before, and was able to give us really valuable advice along the way (thanks, Matt Lowe!)
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
There haven’t been any particularly significant pieces of media that have impacted me in regards to the business, but constant learning across multiple sources have definitely helped. Whether it’s industry news, new skills or tools, it’s always important to be up-to-date.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
The purpose was always the main drive in starting Monogic and is still the absolute priority to this day — to help F&B businesses to integrate data into their marketing and operations, powering smarter strategic decisions.
Whether that was to create smarter marketing strategies, that gave quantitative return on investment; or eCommerce systems to allow businesses to keep serving customers, regardless of dine-in restrictions.
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
We’re really busy at the moment working on a new project that will allow us to seamlessly integrate data across the whole business, and bridge the gap between online marketing efforts and business that takes place offline. From developing in-store data capture infrastructure to track offline custom and customer behaviour, and mobilizing this data to power digital marketing and branding initiatives supported by hard return on investment statistics.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
Digital Transformation is changing the way your business operates to incorporate the use of data or digital infrastructure.
Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?
Any business that operates offline or at a physical location can benefit from digital transformation. For example, we work with restaurants, which typically operate from a physical location. Much of their business takes place over the counter or from a table in the restaurant. We help businesses to allow customers to order remotely with eCommerce channels, where they can get further data on where the customer has come from, and which of their marketing efforts have been paying off.
We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.
As we’re all VERY aware, the coronavirus has been causing physical business to suffer, whilst we’ve seen eCommerce and online businesses like Amazon boom.
We’ve also been witnessing really tough social distancing measures in Hong Kong, which seem to have taken center-aim on restaurants and bars. Restaurants throughout the region are limited to 2 people per table, and restricted to allow only at a maximum of 50% capacity at times.
It’s made it not only really difficult for these businesses that rely on in-store custom, but also difficult on their customers who want to be able to enjoy the restaurants they love, but are afraid of spending too much time outside their homes.
We recently created a self-owned eCommerce system for a client that had a really strong brand and a loyal following of regular customers. They were previously using delivery apps like Deliveroo and FoodPanda, but were finding the commissions these platforms charge too expensive for them to keep the business running, and additionally discontent with the competition the vast number of other restaurants on the platforms were presenting.
We created a self-owned, zero-commission eCommerce platform with their full creative control to help them open up a new stream of income online, provide them with the insights and data on where their customers are finding them, and which of their marketing efforts are paying off.
Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
The most challenging aspect of Digital Transformation is usually familiarising businesses with their shiny new infrastructure. It can sometimes be daunting, and often, for anyone outside the industry, it can often be a completely new way of thinking and operating a business. Particularly in the F&B industry, where a majority of business is done over the counter or at a tableside.
That’s why we always offer training on our systems to help get businesses up-to-speed with their systems and squeeze the most value from their investments. We also offer maintenance and updates for businesses if they would rather have an expert to help!
Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
#1 — Gather data. Image your business is an image, and each data point is a pixel. The more pixels you have, the better you can see the image. The same is true for businesses. The more data points you can measure, the clearer you’re going to be able to see how your business is working and identify any weaknesses. Remember, Digital Transformation is about incorporating data into your business operations to help you make the best-informed decisions.
#2 — Infrastructure. Your choice of infrastructure is going to allow you to not only capture data at key point, but also store that data, and help you use it. For restaurants, our main areas of data capture happen at interactions between staff and customers. The data is captured as part of the restaurant management systems, and is stored securely, where the marketing, finance, and business operations teams can extract actionable insights.
#3 — Training. In order to take full advantage of Digital Transformation, everyone needs to know how the system works. By varying degrees, perhaps, but everyone should understand the grand workflow, so that your company is innovating along every step of the data lifecycle, keeping things as efficient and streamlined as they can be. And this starts at leadership.
#4 — Bring in the experts! It can be normal for businesses to not have the tools and know-how ready and available to take the plunge. Enlist an agency or professional to help make the process as painless as possible, and have them guide you through the best way to run your business in the digital age.
#5 — Stay agile. It can be easy to get carried away and enlist as many tools and systems to get as much data as possible. However, this is cumbersome, expensive, and there are bound to be problems.
Because we focus not on services we provide, but on who we serve, we are able to offer end-to-end solutions for restaurants and F&B eCommerce businesses. We have developed software with specific businesses in mind, and it means that we’re able to cover almost the entire process. From data capture in stores, syncing with custom-tailored eCommerce sites, to advanced data analysis and business insights, to data-powered marketing strategy.
In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?
Innovation happens when fresh minds enter a business for the first time. What can these people take from their previous experiences and apply to your business? What tactics and strategies can they apply to your business from other industries or sectors? What can your current teams learn from these people and what new ways of thinking can this introduce?
That’s what helps make us innovative. At Monogic, we come from different backgrounds, from data management, to marketing, to F&B operations
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Everyone is an expert at something.” We can always learn something from others, so we always must be open to listen. And that’s what helps keep companies innovative.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!