CDO interview: Why Brisbane’s digital chief is focused on advocacy

Why How Brisbane's chief digital officer is helping to shape the sunshine state's digital entrepreneurship and SMB community

Some chief digital officers have responsibility for the digital transformation of a brand or company. For Cat Matson, her responsibilities scale out to the transformation of an entire city.

As the CDO for the City of Brisbane, Matson is tasked with three missions: To improve the digital capabilities of Brisbane’s small business community; to make Brisbane more attractive for digital startups; and to develop and drive citizen uptake of digital services in both the private and public sector.

Matson joined Brisbane Marketing, the city’s economic development board, in September last year, bringing a solid background in entrepreneurship, small business and digital.

“I’ve spent the majority of my professional life in small business, either working in small businesses or advising small businesses, and I got hooked on everything digital as early as 2001,” she tells CMO.

“The role required a high level of digital understanding, a high level of understanding around the challenges facing small business, and a high level of understanding about the startup scene in Brisbane. And that sounded like the perfect gig for me.”

Matson says her role is not so different from that of the CDO in commercial organisations.But whereas their goal might be transformation in pursuit of commercial objectives, hers drives towards the economic development of the city as a whole.

“A CDO role is more strategist than anything else, and that has been my background from day one,” Matson says.

The role is aligned to the 2014 Digital Brisbane strategy, which aims to make Brisbane one of the most progressive cities in the world.

“The strategy’s focus on economic development is appropriate considering the size of the global digital economy and the Lord Mayor’s vision for economic growth,” Matson says.

Matson’s time involves upskilling her colleagues to understand the goals that she (and Brisbane Marketing) are driving towards.

“The communications part of the role has been significant, whether it is having people understand what innovation really means, or what a startup is and how they are different to other small businesses, or what all of the different innovation vocabulary means and how it is impacting everyday business,” she explains.

“So my role is more advocacy than other CDOs roles would be in organisations.”

One of the programs Matson has started is a partnership with the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, Canada, giving Brisbane entrepreneurs access to its Entrepreneurship 101 live online entrepreneurship course.

“That is a 30-week course that we are offering for free to Brisbane’s would-be entrepreneurs so they understand what is really involved,” she says. “And that is the first program of its kind in Brisbane to be so comprehensive. We have 70 to 80 registered on that.”

Another initiative is Digital Brisbane’s Power-Up workshops for small business, which uses case studies and other resources to grow the digital capability of the city’s small business community.

Whether Matson succeeds in her role will be determined ultimately by the impact she can have in terms of growing the startup community, improving digital skills within small business, and moving more citizens to engage online.

“At the end of the day, digital is about enhancing human lives and human connectivity, so it is coming back always to what is it our citizens and our small business owners and our entrepreneurs want, and how do we help enhance the liveability of the city through a comprehensive digital strategy,” Matson says.

“There are still only a handful of cities that have a specific city CDO, and in my case I get to bring together all of that things that I love into one role. And I get to help shape the city that my kids grow up in, and that’s pretty humbling.”

More chief digital officer stories:

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: ABC's Leisa Bacon

In this episode of Conversations over a Cuppa with CMO, ABC's director of audiences, Leisa Bacon, shares how she's navigated the COVID-19 crisis, the milestones and adaptability it's ushered in, and what sustained lessons there are for marketers as we start to recover.

More Videos

Remote working has gained a lot of attention in the past few months. And the key driver to the smooth workflow of remote working is obvio...

varun

How to manage social media during Covid-19

Read more

Hi everyone! Hope you are doing well. I just came across your website and I have to say that your work is really appreciative. Your conte...

Rochie Grey

Will 3D printing be good for retail?

Read more

Zero proof spiritsUsa since 2011 www.arkaybeverages.com🤪🤟

Sylvie

How this alcohol-free spirits brand rode the health and wellness wave

Read more

okay this a good newsmaybe i gonna try it

kenzopoker1

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 9 July 2020

Read more

Very insightful. Executive leaders can let middle managers decide on the best course of action for the business and once these plans are ...

Abi TCA

CMOs: Let middle managers lead radical innovation

Read more

Blog Posts

Why CMOs need a clear voice strategy to connect with their customers

Now more than ever, voice presents a clear opportunity to add value to an organisation in many ways. Where operational efficiencies are scrutinised, budgets are tighter and discretionary consumer spend at a low, engaging with an audience is difficult.

Guy Munro

Head of innovation and technology, Paper + Spark

MYOD Dataset: Building a DAM

In my first article in this MYOD [Make Your Organisation Data-Driven] series, I articulated a one-line approach to successfully injecting data into your organisation’s DNA: Using a Dataset -> Skillset -> Mindset framework. This will take your people and processes on a journey to data actualisation.

Kshira Saagar

Group director of data science, Global Fashion Group

Business quiet? Now is the time to review your owned assets

For businesses and advertiser categories currently experiencing a slowdown in consumer activity, now is the optimal time to get started on projects that have been of high importance, but low urgency.

Olia Krivtchoun

CX discipline leader, Spark Foundry

Sign in