Archive for August, 2018

What happened at MediaCom’s Transformation Week 2018?

Monday, August 20th, 2018

DSC_15535 days

24 presentations

21 partners‎

35 presenters

1,400 attendees

Our first transformation week at MediaCom happened as our English summer transformed into baking heat.

Charles Darwin said “it’s not the strongest or the most intelligent that survive, but those most responsive to change”.  Stephen Hawking said: “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

Change is unavoidable, changes are accelerating, but we need to make sure that the pace of change is appropriate and focussed.

Our transformation week agenda was focussed around our clients’ priorities from the turn of year questionnaire.  We invited the nation’s best media owners to partner with us in addressing them.

From the rich territory of these priorities one week’s transformation festival was created.  (The topics are: Agility; AI; Voice; Creativity; Data; Diversity; GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft); Millennials/GenZ; Purpose/Meaning; Ecommerce).

5 key trends for 2018/19 were clear.

Trend 1: If you stand still, you go backwards.

85% business leaders state that innovation is crucial, but delivering effective innovation is tough.  11 years ago there was a step change year for tech.  2007 was a year of real traction for fb, iphone, Amazon Web Services, big data and open source coding.  Pundits predict that a similar year of step change is imminent in terms of frictionless tech development adoption.  The disruptors are coming in every market.  No-one can think that they’re exempt.  Standing still is not an option.

The customer is in charge.

I know you’ve heard that the customer is king, and queen, (and the grand of duke of York for that matter!) before.  This time it’s different.  This time the customer isn’t standing for sub-standard service, unsubstantiated spin, or shoddy standards.  User Experience is inextricable from the Brand.  Businesses must take care to swerve the traps of path dependence and dabbling.  Ruthless focus about what to trial will separate the winners from the also ran.  Those brands that offer the customer what they want, when they want it and how they want it will triumph over the rest of the category.  They’ll almost inevitably create more data for their business in the process.  Which leads me to the third trend.

Trend 3: Be data informed not a data junkie.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Our speakers emphasised that whilst there are lots of data sources that can be vital intelligence to progress, and that algorithms can help to build better relationships with customers, there’s a danger that once you start looking at data feeds you mistake them for knowledge.  Data might be the new oil, to quote CDDO Ben Rickard, but only in the sense that its toxic unless you refine it.

Trend 4: Agile ways of working drive results.

A shift to more adaptive ways of working can reap impressive rewards in terms of productivity.  A shift in mindset from planning for perfect to planning to deliver a minimum viable product in the least amount of time that you can then beta test and learn from can take days or even weeks of people hours costs out of projects. An approach of build, measure, learn, adapt, measure, learn means brilliant never stops.

Our final trend is about the surprising truth about creativity. Exclusivity gives way to empowerment.  An open access approach to working with all kinds of people and partners creates power and energy for brands.

With enormous thanks to all our speakers, partners and delegates.  The transformation continues.







The new and unprecedented challenge for brands

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

startrekpicTo boldly go, where no brand has gone before.

Brands are facing an existential threat like no other.  Exactly how it will play out and how soon the question.  As Twitter’s Bruce Daisley said on MediaCom’s Connected Podcast recently (and out soon here), it’s impossible to predict the next twenty years, just as twenty years ago we had no idea about what life and work would be like today.  Yet we can be clear about one thing.  There’s change to come that will make navigating the challenges of today look easy.

You can point the finger at Star Trek for some of this disruption. It’s Captain Kirk who inspired one of the great changes that will challenge current orthodoxies about brands.  William Tunstall-Pedoe is the engineer and tech start up founder who taught Amazon’s Alexa how to talk.  He acknowledges that his inspiration was the talking computer on the Star Ship Enterprise.  His definition of his job as an engineer is to close the gap between science fiction and reality.  Of course Captain Kirk’s relationship with the computer running the star ship was largely benign.  (There was the episode with the evil computer Nomad, but Kirk talked it down, luckily for the galaxy).

Tunstall-Pedoe is optimistic about the future of voice.  In future everything that you do via tech you will do simply by asking.  Already millions of households worldwide have voice tech products.  Many people have already made them part of the family, anthropomorphically telling them good night.  What this means is more change.  Tunstall-Pedoe notes that all change means risk, but urges keeping risk in perspective and believes that voice tech will change people’s lives for the better.

We must all hope that the risks will be managed, that malware will stay under control and that change will be for the good.  At the same time we must plan for the worst.

In the world of media and marketing one of the worst outcomes may be the disappearance of some brands.

We have been through several eras of advertising.  In the 1950s we were in the age of interruption, when consumers were happy to pay attention to ads because they sought the reassurance of brand names and trusted what businesses said to them.  From the 1960s to the 1980s we were in the age of entertainment.  People would still pay attention to ads but only if they were entertaining.  For the last couple of decades of the 20th century we were in the age of engagement.  The rise in media channels meant that reaching people at the right time in the right place with the right message was key to successful comms.  The early 21st century was the dawn of the age of dialogue where millions of dialogues between consumers shapes their opinions of brands.  Where what a brand says about itself is just one factor in brand salience together with every other aspect of the customer journey from search, social, influencers, reviews, sourcing, authenticity, employee brand, service and experience to repeat purchase and loyalty.

Most purchase journeys are still predominantly visual.  Brands are designed with those visual cues in mind.  If voice dominates things change.  Maybe only the strongest brands will survive.  There will be categories where consumers defer to the voice tech assistant.  The question to ask is what is it about the brand that will ensure that it continues to cut through.  To be one of the brands that stick in the consumer’s brain so that they don’t just buy the category they buy the brand.

Voice will shift the balance of power and techniques to thrive will be essential.  As Mr Spock pointed out “Computers make excellent and efficient servants, but I have no wish to serve under them.” 

Brand strategy now must plan for the worst to ensure that the brand survives.