Yesterday we once again joined our friends at Adobe to host Marketing Reimagined at the excellent Soho Hotel Screening Room. It was an afternoon packed with interesting presentations, great insights and thought provoking discussion. Best of all, it was a great opportunity for our clients, agency partners and industry thought leaders to get together to discuss issues that are at the front of everyone’s mind in our fast-paced industry.
This year we were lucky enough to have presentations from Chris Taylor, CIO of Telegraph Media Group; Karen Pepper, UK Head of Amazon Pay; John Pickles, Marketing Integration Specialist at Ford; Chris Hartley, Group Account Director at Cognifide; Bertil Snel, Director of Product Marketing at Adobe and, of course, Cleve Gibbon, our own digital super-brain and Chief Marketing Technology Officer.
We had some very thought provoking (and occasionally terrifying!) presentations about the future direction of digital, as well as some inspirational and uplifting discussion about the possibilities that lie just around the corner. We also had some really insightful and pragmatic demonstrations from one of our clients about how they are making clever use of the technology we have right here and now - which made quite a few people sit up and take notes.
Being at the end of the year, there’s always a good degree of reflection about what has happened in our industry over the last 12 months, as well as some anticipation of what’s to come. As always, there were some common themes that emerged, which we discussed both within the theatre, and afterwards over some delicious Soho Hotel Canapés and a glass or three of wine.
Some of the key themes that emerged are outlined here:
Trust is more important than ever
In the age of fake news, fake websites, and fake everything, trust is becoming ever more important. Trust is what brings consumers back again and again, and trust is what earns you the right to get customers to try new products and experiences. Trust can take years to earn and seconds to destroy. Building trust depends on a complete focus on customers and experiences, and a deep understanding of what customers want, supported by good data and insight. Business ethics and maintaining a balance between providing value to customers and generating revenue from customers needs to be kept in perspective if you are to survive over the long term.
Millennials are driving the tech agenda and this is a real opportunity
We heard about the ever higher expectations of Millennial consumers, and how they are driving expectations of seamless integration of technology into a converged physical and virtual world. There is an absolute expectation that the physical experience, such as in-store visits will be enhanced with digital and we saw some great examples of how traditional businesses are rising to the challenge, as well as how digital businesses are displacing those who don’t.
Equally, we saw how technologies like 3D printing and holographic projection are bringing the digital world into the physical. Everyone should be thinking about what this means for their business. We had some great insight into how the proliferation of digital channels can cause headaches in trying to build an audience, but also how, if done correctly, it can produce some amazing and surprising success.
Platform thinking has been a recurring theme for the last few years, but in the last year we have started to see the theory become reality. The traditional pipeline enterprise, where goods are manufactured and pushed to the consumer is being displaced by enterprises that think of both the suppliers of value and the consumers of value within a complete ecosystem. More importantly, the same individuals can operate as both producer and consumer at different times or in different places.
Platform thinking has transformed industries such as hotels, taxis, IT and retail and are set to change many more. Platform businesses are now reaching billion dollar valuations in less than a year; we must all be prepared for a new and effective competitor to emerge from places you didn’t expect and be very successful.
AI and voice are big, but let’s not over hype it
AI was a real and recurring theme. There are over 100 AI tech firms vying for leadership. Over the last decade we have been focusing on big data, how to collect and store it all, but the problem is now how we actually make use of all of that data. AI is going to be essential to crunch the numbers and provide insight. We are some way off genuine interactions with emotion and sensitivity, but that will happen. Meanwhile, the speed at which voice interactions, combined with AI have come to the fore has been surprising, and we have seen a real resurgence in the importance of voice interaction. We are still thinking of new ways in which we apply AI and we should expect to see some interesting and new applications in the coming year.
GDPR is a good thing
GDPR is a super hot topic in digital marketing. The introduction of new and tighter regulation about the management and sharing of personal data is often seen as a negative thing, however there was quite a bit of optimism about what all of this means for digital, and for us as providers of experiences. GDPR will shift the focus from low quality experiences to highly focused, high quality interactions. As marketers we will all have to think more and work hard to create experiences people want to be part of. We saw some great demonstrations of how experiences can be personalised to individual’s preferences, without requiring any personalised information. Future expectations are that personalisation based on real time analytics will become more important, not less. We all need to think about how we can lift our game in this area.
Finally, there was much discussion on how we all adapt to change. The pace of technological change is rapidly outpacing our ability to adopt it but we should be doing everything to embrace change. This prompted some quite philosophical discussion about what it means to be human, how we need to change how we think and the NASA concept of Exponential Thinking which was used to get people on the moon. Exponential thinking is not just the application of logic, but it’s also driven by inspirational leadership, belief and emotion. We discussed how we should be preparing the next generation for even more exponential thinking with a very inspirational quote from Heather McGowan, the CEO of Work to Learn:
Stop asking a young person WHAT you want to be when you grow up. It freezes their identity into a job that may not be there. Ask them HOW you want to be when you grow up. Having an agile learning mindset will be a new skill set of the 21st century.
If you would like to know more about Marketing Reimagined, or would be interested in attending next year, please get in touch by emailing Marketing@cognifide.com.
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