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The new dichotomy: ‘You can’t create technology without actually being creative’


By Max Simpson, Journalist

August 14, 2023 | 5 min read

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Leaders from Group Black, Notco and Braze explore the melting point where technology and creativity meet, and how they must both live in harmony to maximize effectiveness.

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Braze spoke to leaders from Group Black and Notco to explore the intertwined relationship between creativity and technology

The dichotomy between the external showcasing of creative marketing and the technology that powers the processes behind the scenes can be stark.

The creative aspect of marketing is one that can inspire, surprise, and delight consumers and users on a daily basis. Even though technology remains a vital part of this process, it can often lead to friction and contention amongst departments. They often live in polarizing opposites. While they need one another to succeed, the challenge is ever-present on how to bring everyone together on the same page.

Mariam Asmar, vice-president, strategic consulting at Braze spoke to leaders from Group Black, Notco and Braze in a panel discussion to explore the intertwined relationship between creative strategists and technical practitioners, how they can live in harmony, and why there can’t be one without the other.

Addressing the divide

The panelists immediately ripped the proverbial bandage by acknowledging where there are gaps in synergy within the industry.

“For a variety of reasons over the years, there’s tension, there’s varying goals,” says Bill Magnuson, chief executive officer and co-founder, Braze. “There’s so many times when the imagined opportunity runs into the technical reality and the execution dwindles and people get burned and then that creates mistrust.”

Much of the misaligned perception has to do with the ease of use of technology itself. Incorrect assumptions of certain technologies being harder to use than they are, may result in forgoing technological advances for fear of poor user adoption.

“You can’t create technology without actually being creative,” says Bonin Bough, chief executive officer and co-founder, Group Black. “I think there’s this weird bifurcation conversation of ‘left brain, right brain’ but it’s actually one brain. So, it actually all works together. Sometimes there’s a barrier between ‘here's the product we have right now’ and ‘what's the dream that the person who’s creating the product actually has’.”

Meeting at the impasse

With the air cleared, conversation shifted towards rewriting the narrative and helping to solve systematic issues at hand.

“If I were working in legal, I would not approve anything,” jests Fernando Machado, chief marketing officer, Notco and Braze board member. “If I approve, and it fails, it becomes a problem. And if it succeeds, the marketing team did the job. There’s no upside. So the only way we’re able to change that is by doing early involvement by making sure that everyone feels that we have the same objective and we’re on the same team. This same thinking applies to tech.”

“Anything is better with creativity and technology is an enabler for you to achieve things that maybe you were not able to achieve before,” Machado adds. “I always try to put the lenses of creativity on top to do things differently than your competition is doing, to do things in a more unexpected way than what your customer is expecting.”

Bringing together multiple project stakeholders earlier on in the process can help solidify the end goal as well as the necessary checkpoints along the way. It can also help lead to transformative opportunities with different perspectives providing solutions from multiple angles.

“The more that you can lower the activation energy of bringing an idea to life, the more creative people are going to be,” adds Magnuson. “The lowest hanging fruit for innovation is usually at the cross section of disciplines because it’s in the areas where no one was looking before.”

Capitalizing on the future

After illustrating the current state of the industry, the panelists elaborated on an ever-present fixture that provides a glimpse into the very real future: artificial intelligence (AI).

“It’s never just AI,” notes Machado. “It’s humans plus AI to do something that maybe we’re not able to do before. There is an idea there. It’s going to allow us to do things that we’re not able to do before. It’s not just a flashy, shiny, new marketing or business word. I think it will change things for the better.”

“What I love about [AI] is that while we think we’re training it, it’s actually training us,” says Bough. “And I think we’re becoming better humans as a result of it. Things will change and evolve but those technologies will always favor those that embrace it.”

Catch up on the full ‘Melting points: where technology meets creativity’ panel discussion from Braze in Cannes here.

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