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Sir Martin Sorrell outlines five principles for the digital age

WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell has used a LinkedIn post to promulgate five guiding principles for the digital age which he believed will stand Europe in good stead as it struggles to maintain competitiveness.

Sorrell moved to put his observations in writing following his observation that, "Technological change isn’t just a constant: it’s accelerating. Technology will never again change as slowly as it does today."

Offering up his first pearl of wisdom, Sorrell urged Europe not to wait for technological change to come to happen but to ’take control of your own destiny.’ Citing the case of Amazon as an example, Sorrell noted: “Amazon’s original model depended on selling books printed on paper. When the internet threatened to erode this market, Amazon created the Kindle. At the same time, bookshops went under in droves. Those booksellers could have created an e-reader. But they didn’t – they battled to defend the old order and maintain hard copy sales. A battle they don’t appear to be winning.”

Next up was a recommendation to always listen (and respond) to consumers in order to ‘pave the way toward more personalised public services’.

Thirdly Sorrell called for a greater appetite for risk, noting the contrast between the Silicon Valley mantra of ‘success-through-failure’ to the over cautious approach of public servants fearful of a negative response from journalists and voters.

Sorrell also stated his belief that governments should ‘harness the power of platforms’, noting that their power arises from their ability to foster connection and communication. Sorrell said: “social media like Facebook or Twitter enable people to connect and communicate; eBay enables people to trade; Deezer and Spotify enable people to discover and play their favourite music; Google enables… well, just about everything.”

Finally, he urged that coding skills be taught in classrooms across the continent in order to meet ever growing demand digital and programming skills, Sorrell said: ”It’s just as important to recruit Maths Men as it is Mad Men.”

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