Are you future ready? A recent study by Wunderman has found that despite the importance of investing for the future, 72% of corporations are limited by short term expectations.
At the Wunderman and Adobe 'Breaking into the Future' panel at Cannes Lions 2018, BT Group and Shell talked about how it is not about predicting the future but more about preparing. And how it is easy to be enchanted by technology, and in the process forgetting that tech is an enabler to deliver on customer needs better.
Conversations around the overwhelming pace technology and data are nothing new. At Cannes, Sir John Hegarty stated that creativity is receding because we are hypnotised by data and tech. He called it the "creative deficit". As we are all drowning in data and information, might we need to reclaim and redefine transformation as we know it?
Wunderman chief executive officer, EMEA, Mel Edwards said she fundamentally disagrees with Sir John's statement. According to Edwards, if you are a fantastic creative in everything that you do, data should empower that creativity. "More data should make the work that we do brilliant and sing rather than pull it down into something that doesn't excite or interest."
Technology should in no way replace or reduce the creative process in any way says Adobe's vice president, global partners, Jay Dettling. Many organisations are using multi varied testing, AB testing etc to "inform the creative." For Dettling, data is a tool that takes a lot of guess work out of the creative process.
Swimming in data
We shouldn't confuse data and insight, they aren't the same thing suggested BT Group brand and marketing chief, Zaid Al-Qassab. "The world has always had data, it's now just more easily available. However, we seem to be swimming around in data at the moment." This might be because of the obsession the industry has had with new technologies, he maintained.
The 'Future Ready' study showed that 68% of businesses said that they can't use the data they have to inform the creative. They can't take insight from it. "It's a shocking stat because why are you collecting data if you can't use it," exclaimed Edwards.
"When you think about data and the proliferation of it, and the new data sources," added Dettling, "the two things that come to mind for me are: there has to be some level of agreement on what the insights are and what the actions are that you're taking.
"Insights and action, you can't replace that. New data sources emerge but you still need clarity around what the insights are and what it means for you as a business, where you should go, what customers should you target. And what actions does that drive."
Force fitting digital
If you forget the fundamentals of marketing and are charmed by technology, then you have failed, according to Al-Qassab. "We didn't use to talk about paper marketers, so we shouldn't talk about digital ones."
Shell global head of CRM, Sherine Yap added that it's a personal bugbear of hers when the industry says "we have to use digital first to be consumer first." It should not be the case always. "Although the majority of consumers are naturally in the digital space, sometimes digital marketing isn't the most appropriate way to reach and that's OK."
For Shell, said Yap, the big challenge is also between short term and long term KPIs and how that can be dealt with on a day-to-day basis, especially in a very old, established organisation.
One of the big areas that Adobe said the business is focusing on is helping clients and customers understand the "art of the possible." Dettling added: "Getting them to understand what they can do with the technology is critical."
Don't forget about your human capital
The one thing that businesses continue to forget to talk about is the cultural and human transformation any organisation needs, the panel agreed.
Al-Qassab added further: "Capability for the future is about investment and it doesn't mean just spending on technologies.
"Investment means having an organisation that is fit for the future, which is learning all the time, that is able to bring you new ideas, new tools, new ways of innovation. And is able to coach and develop the staff who are in your business. It's not a platitude to say that your people are the greatest assets in any company.
"That is your human capital. And you better be investing in it just like you're investing in other forms of capital."