Microsoft on playing ‘catch up’ with the consumer and getting ahead of the curve

Why Microsoft is always playing ‘catch up’ with the consumer and how it intends to get ahead of the curve

The constant changes in consumer behaviour is leaving technology giant Microsoft constantly “playing catch up” to remain relevant, but the brand has number of tricks up its sleeve to future proof its marketing department, including better utilising left brain and right brain skills, and taking the millenial approach to workplace agility.

Despite being a technology brand, Microsoft consumer marketing director Paul Davies said it isn’t immune to the “shapeshifting” ways of its consumers. Thus it is building a marketing department staffed by people with the ability to be “agile”, a quality he said is commonly present in millennials who are used to juggling different roles.

“It feels like we are always on catch up as marketers, we are always trying to catch up with our audience and to follow where they are going, what they are watching, and what platforms they are on,” he told an audience at ISBA’s Annual Conference yesterday (8 March). “Consumers are constantly shifting their shape and that is always a truism and that will always be the way, what is happening is that it’s now happening so fast we are having to catch up.

“[In terms of] skills that we look for in the people that we have on our marketing teams, agility is really important to spot trends quickly, and jump on them, it’s a difficult skill to hire for. Millennials are really good at this. My theory as to why is that they come in to the world of work with a portfolio of jobs that they do, whereas it was only when I was in my zenith of the game that I began to look for new stuff… being good at agility is powerful for marketing teams.”

When it comes to making actual change at Microsoft, the business places a huge amount of importance on the fusion of left brain and right brain thinking to avoid a “race to the bottom”.

“There has been a lot of discussion around left brain and logical sills and analytics, and we need that stuff because of the marketing technologies that are available to us in automation and programmatic, but we need to counter that with right brain skills of creativity and ideation.”

Microsoft is constantly thinking about the balance between the two types of thinking and how to get the most out of balancing the two, Davies added. “Because if you just focus on the left brain it’s a race to the bottom, it’s all about efficiency and you need the right brain to covert that in to effectiveness.”

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.