Microsoft's Digital Futures Index.


With a business decision-maker audience reach of millions, the Digital Futures Index (DFI) generated blanket earned media coverage, fueled significant social engagement and filled a pipeline of thousands of marketing-qualified leads, making it Microsoft CEE’s most successful communications-led lead generation activity of all time.

It brought together over 1,000 data points from open public sources into a single, interactive data model, providing a unique 360-degree view of digital development across 16 European countries. With a comprehensive toolkit developed for local market exploitation that correlated digital progress with societal and economic outcomes, our data-led stories gave business & government leaders the insights they need to accelerate digitization and maximize its positive impact on our lives. 

Most importantly, it created an asset that the business has used to inform and drive thousands of proactive conversations with customers, prospective customers and partners.


Microsoft is a key digital transformation partner for countries, companies and communities alike. But, in a world of competing budget priorities, how could we effectively link digital development to innovation, productivity and economic growth, to positively inform and influence both business and government investment decision-making?​

We wanted to cut through by showing how digital development goes to the heart of a shared agenda; creating an urgency for countries and companies in Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) to invest in advancing their digitization as well as position Microsoft as a thought-leader & trusted advisor on that journey.

Ultimately, we wanted to create strategic business value both through integrated communications activations, but also by equipping the business to advance commercial conversations directly with key stakeholders. And, importantly, we wanted to empower Microsoft’s in-market communications teams across CEE with rich, engaging content that could be used to drive local campaigns, tailored to their individual needs and priorities.


Government and business leaders needed a spark and compelling proof points to give them the confidence to invest in digital transformation.

We knew that data would help us achieve the cut through we were looking for – not just by supporting our story, but by being our story. But we didn’t want to create just another study that looked back at one narrow element of digital transformation, to languish on the shelf with all the others. We wanted to look at the whole picture – to understand the key drivers of digital-led progress and surface critical insights on the future actions and investments that will help build a better future.

Strategy & Approach.

Knowing that government and business leaders were struggling with competing pressures on where to prioritise investment, our strategy was to give them the evidence (and hence confidence) that digital transformation was a turnkey investment that would advance all their other priorities.

However, that evidence didn’t really exist - so we had to build it. Our solution was to create an advanced data-led indicator of how digital development drives societal, economic and business outcomes.

By correlating digital progress with societal and economic outcomes, our data-led stories were designed to shift how we talk about digital development – from vision to action, from concept to impact – all underpinned by a sense of urgency built around why it matters. It enabled us to uncover and tell stories about relationships between digital progress and outcomes which hadn’t been told before – shedding new light on and ‘data-proving’ the positive impact of digitization.


The Digital Futures Index was a data-led, forward-looking, 360o interactive model of digital development in Europe, designed to empower leaders with insights they could use to accelerate digitization and maximize its positive impact for their country.

Using 1,000+ data points, we modelled the level of digital development for 16 European countries and explored the relationship between various measures of digital progress (e.g. digital skills, infrastructure, technology investment, start-ups, etc.) with specific and desirable societal and economic benefits (e.g. sustainability, productivity, innovation, wages, etc.). We benchmarked Central & Eastern European countries against a group of advanced ‘digital frontrunner’ nations (relatable Western European markets) to gauge how far along the digital development journey they are by comparison.

Collaborating with stakeholders, government affairs, business groups and the marketing organization within Microsoft; and working with independent third parties to validate it from its macroeconomic perspective, we used advanced data science techniques to find the key correlations and insights and then published an interactive model.

A video and guide for internal stakeholders helped them to articulate the insights, equipped them on how to best use them externally, and how to work with the data comfortably to create stories with local relevance.

Phase one of the campaign focused on business decision-makers, using digital content (such as animations, videos and gifs to bring the data to life) on social channels, as well as Microsoft’s owned Stories Europe page. We developed 11 country-specific “Guides to the Digital Future” that public sector teams in each market were able to use directly in government dialogues.

After a necessary pause (outbreak of the war in Ukraine), we focused on a lead-gen campaign targeting leaders in private & public sector organizations. An eBook was developed as the core campaign gated asset and leveraged marketing and comms channels to support demand generation activities across the funnel.

Marketing-qualified sales leads.
Pieces of earned media coverage.
Unique content views.
Additional content views from paid media partnerships.

Results & Learnings.

Supported by targeted local amplification via earned and owned channels, phase one of the campaign generated nearly 700,000 unique content views (vs a target of 100,000), securing 300+ pieces of earned media coverage and counting. We exceeded every KPI, generating blanket coverage in the most impactful media, hundreds of thousands of content views, and thousands of marketing-qualified sales leads.

Local campaigns were kicked off with a region-led workshop for local data journalists, a series of news releases, leadership interviews and in-country press events across CEE, with 100+ media in attendance.

Insights from the Digital Futures Index were presented at a series of business conferences, such as NT in Slovakia (2,000 delegates), Poland’s Economic Forum (4,000+ attendees) and the SMART Conference in Hungary. Local teams undertook proactive collaborations with influential local organizations, such as developing a joint report with Digital Poland Foundation & KPMG on Poland’s digitization opportunity. Local comms also drove owned articles bylined to country General Managers and leveraged platforms like LinkedIn to further leverage executive voices and increase both reach and engagement. Paid media partnerships generated an additional 170,000+ content views. Collectively, the local campaigns generated more than 300 pieces of earned coverage in key business and technology outlets across CEE.

With a business decision-maker audience reach of millions, the DFI campaign more than delivered on the cut-through we had hoped to achieve. Most importantly, it created an asset that the business has used to inform and drive thousands of proactive conversations with customers, prospective customers and partners, making it Microsoft CEE’s most successful communications-led lead-generation activities of all time.


Digital Futures Index: a data-led campaign to advance digital progress.

Microsoft CEE's most successful communications-led lead generation activity of all time.

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