Asif Shaikh of Digiant Media tells us about web design & development during a health crisis.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Asif Shaikh: We are doing great. Thank you. Our gratitude goes to all essential workers who continue to support us and the neighbourhoods directly or indirectly during these difficult times.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Digiant Media.
Asif Shaikh: I hold an MBA degree from the University of Central Lancashire (UK).
I got into advertising for the love of it, and I continue to do so. An MBA opened up my outlook and entrepreneurial mindset. After relocating to Dubai, I joined an advertising agency as a copywriter followed by a couple of more agencies as a copywriter and a creative director for a short period. As the paradigm started shifting that too in a swift pace – all this increase of internet penetration and growth of mobile technology – I realized adaptation and foresight is key. And adaptation was happening sluggishly with traditional advertising agencies where I was. That’s when I decided to start Digiant media.
How does Digiant Media innovate?
Asif Shaikh: Innovation is part of creativity. Adaptation to new technologies and devices is key to us because we are in an industry that has been witnessing massive transformation, especially the platforms and technology, and content. We understand that creativity can be massively fuelled by not only technology and traditional market research but also by insights and data.
We put it this way – there are no magic buttons, no shenanigans but creativity and timing. We understand business problems gather processed data, which is information, and act upon it, which is creativity for us. Essentially, we deliver real-world results with the fusion of information and creativity. The problem-solving lies in what our clients look for, what problems they have, and what is the most effective solution for them. For us, however, given the inundation of data and proliferation of channels and platforms, the challenge is to be always utterly smart to keep adapting to help expand our clients’ reach.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Asif Shaikh: We made an abrupt switch to WFH and virtual meetings. Thanks to cutting-edge solutions which enabled us to hold effective meetings even in this time of crisis.
For us, digital and web solutions saw a sharp growth while luxury and lifestyle branding took a backseat at this period of time. Therefore, we tweaked our strategies and service offerings. Our focus went completely on digital strategies for our clients to keep their customers engaged and maintain business continuity to the best possible degrees.
We also add flexibility to contracts and payment terms. For heavily affected clients, we paused the monthly service costs until they were back to decent business.
In fact, the pandemic has made our relationship and commitment to our clients more robust.
What are the lessons learned?
Asif Shaikh: In a small team like us means we mainly work with experts with a lot of experience. But, to expand our forte and meet the challenges ahead, we need to keep constantly on top of emerging technologies.
What specific tools and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Asif Shaikh: Working internally and with our clients, we identify and plan the right mix of technology and digital platforms to boost clients’ capabilities. COVID-19 also made us upskill in order to come out with creative solutions.
As we move on, we have put creativity and digital at the heart of our culture; robust processes and work models make our everyday work tick.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Asif Shaikh: We are well aware that we are in the middle of continuing a fast-moving technical revolution, and in order to sustain and flourish we should be agile to provide solutions to our clients in a variety of different scenarios. The key is to solve the problems of our clients.
We just want to keep leveraging on new technologies and providing efficient solutions to our clients – this naturally keeps us moving. Craving to beat the competition has never been the way to solve problems. At Digiant Media, our aim remains the same to strive for excellence in every respect.
Your final thoughts?
Asif Shaikh: We cannot deny the fact that advertising mediums have changed vastly and they will keep changing. The COVID-19 has speeded this change. That said, the good thing is there are ample opportunities for agencies to play a role in the industry.
2021 will be a year of doing things smartly by creating integrated offers, embracing opportunities, and forging partnerships.
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