We’ve all heard about disruption. After all, it’s now been used to death. Recently, I’ve been thinking about the D word and how we make our brands last the test of time; how we make them Futureproof. It’s a challenging thought; and one that is arguably impossible.
After all, how do we know what’s coming round the corner?
I believe there are three core mindsets and twelve technologies that are centrally important for brand managers to be Futureproof. We chat about chatbots, put small hands on big data, yet divert from the alerts that 85% of customer service jobs will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence in 2020.
One could argue there’s nothing new here. Explain new technology, scare everyone to death and charge a tonne of money to implement new solutions. In building our brands, we’ve all been through the never ending cycle of learning new social media channels, mastering marketing stacks and whiteboarding our why’s. We’ve seen the self-professed experts, the overly optimistic promises and the lack of results. So do we still need all this disruptive tech hype?
As much as the slow rhythms of meditation and mindfulness work for busy CMOs, technology doesn’t have the same early morning rituals. Where we like the idea of putting our feet up a little, we need to catch up a lot. And the pace is only going to get quicker. Relentlessly ahead of us.
It’s coming at us from all sides. Blockchain, Cloud, Artificial Intelligence, Mobile, 3D Printing, Smartphones, Energy Storage, Security, Genomics; we’ve heard the terms, we’ve read the blogs, but we’ve still got the gaps. Big gaps of data. We can’t master them all. So we need to know what areas will have the biggest impact on us Personally, Internally within our businesses and Externally throughout society. I call this a slice of PIE. And however simple we try to make it; we’re a long way from the days of social media 2.0. It’s hard work. But it’s good work.
Looking back and gleaning lessons from the past, it’s understandable why many marketers are battle weary and tired. As well as the speed of change, there are few who haven’t experienced the challenges found in the marketing silos. Social Media fought Digital. PR battled Advertising. For years it was a bloodbath; jostles over budgets, wars over technology and the heavy armour of self-preservation. Industry jargon and the arrogant shaming enabled by dashboard analytics were our weapons of choice.
Integrated campaigns seemed like the dream utopia we longed for, but we had to cross through no man’s land to get there. In reality, we needed each other as wave after wave of new innovation hit us hard, but the ferocity of internal conflict caused us to be down in the bunkers. And many of us still are.
For those that carry the same DNA, they will want to draw up similar enemy lines of self-interest, defensiveness and cynicism when it comes to being Futureproof. Without getting stroppy, if they’re playing by old rules, they don’t get a slice of PIE. After all, Artificial Intelligence needs Big Data. Blockchain needs Security. And leaders need good open thinking: Personally, Internally, and Externally.
I believe some of the most powerful needs in these days of change are great minds, big hearts and open hands. With a cheeky nod to one of the past battlegrounds, we want people to embrace their new CRM: Collaboration, Responsibility and Meaningfulness. Collaboration to work openly with customers, internal departments and external partnerships; Responsibility for deep focused learning, memorable branding and the ability to get our hands dirty with new implementations; And the Meaningfulness to create great value in the work we do, ensuring it provides more than just a high performing bottom line.
As CMO’s our role has moved from that of Chief Marketing Officer to Chief Mindset Officer. With this openness, we can collectively explore the technology treasure chest, and consequently, we’re far less vulnerable to shiny tech syndrome. We are more equipped to exercise discernment to assess what technologies are most important for our business, and what we can leave aside.
As brands meaningfully collaborate with each other, we start to see partnerships where once we saw competition. There is a distribution of power; from the hands of the few to the hearts of the many.
Each day in my travels and interviews, I see shoots of life, similar to the early days of the internet and the birth of social media. I experience the launching of new platforms. Meetups are humming. Engagement is jumping. Great ideas are growing.
One meetup I went to at Rise, London in July 2017, was the launch of the Humaniq app. The room was packed, and thousands watched online. Humaniq, which is just one great example, is an Ethereum Blockchain-based financial services app, looking to enable two billion people with access to mobile finance. For years those in developing nations have had a lack of entry to traditional banking.
Humaniq wants to provide the infrastructure for 3rd party services to plug into their platform and offer solutions to this community. They want to connect a common desire to use ‘AI and Blockchain for Social Good.’ Protectiq, will be one of these early partners, and using the bio-metric identification that the Humaniq app offers, will enable people to verify their identities and get access to affordable health insurance. Those who previously had no access to finance or banking institutions, will now be able to receive amongst other areas of care, cancer treatment. Quite literally, the Blockchain will save people’s lives.
Many of us don’t yet have the same opportunities to change the business models of our brands. We may still be locked in the day to day fights we’ve become accustomed to and simply feel like we’re not able to lift our heads up to see what’s coming. Of course, we will still bang the drum and work hard to see our organisations grow their market share. But there must be more to our brands than this. Can we get inspired by the stories being created? Can they encourage us to see things differently?
Yes, the word disruption has been used to death, but disruption is now being used to prevent death. Perhaps with a clear mindset, the right technologies and our collective hard work, instead of just seeing things differently, we can live the gift of being different. We can help our brands create stories that are fully worth telling. I don’t know about you, but I find that truly worth fighting for.