I had never met fellow Publicis employee Rishad Tobaccowalla (according to his bio–Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer of Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi) but clearly he had found a way to see inside my brain and was kind enough to answer some of my most pressing concerns about life, and more specifically marketing, in the digital age. The only bummer was that he did this in front of ThinkLA at a breakfast a couple weeks ago. Which will make these insights much tougher to pass off as my own.
Seriously, this was an amazing talk from an engaging and unassuming speaker. It offered a framework for considering the changes hurtling toward us hourly, at ridiculous speeds.
Here are some of the points that struck me as either comforting or insightful or both. He started with a truth that I know many of us struggle with–
You can’t keep up with new information. This creates insecurity.
Ironically, in light of this, the more you want things to stay the same, the more you will have to change.
Thus, it’s wise to embrace the state of having incomplete knowledge, and–
Decide what the world looks like and get on with it.
So what does the world look like these days? He pointed out a few striking macro characteristics–
We are in a ”connection engine age”. This is what allows everything to happen.
There are different types of connection engines: sharing engines (Twitter), transaction engines (Amazon), discovery engines (Google).
The internal combustion engine was a connection engine. Cars, trucks, planes connect people. The Middle Ages? Not a connection engine age.
The internet is the biggest connection engine yet.
People are analog
We connect in order to share, discover, express. This is not about IT, at least not as much as it is about understanding humans.
Emotion is analog. People don’t think with data.
We are right in the middle of the most amazing period in marketing history.
Textbooks define marketing as “understanding and meeting customer requirements.” This wasn’t what companies did the last three decades (or more). Now they have to, or their customers will expose them.
Marketing is about understanding culture. Thus, it’s a growth industry.
This is good news for thinkers. It’s a lot harder to outsource people with understanding than it is people with skillsets (sorry lawyers, programmers and CPAs).
Digital doesn’t respect boundaries. We are in an age of “digital leakage”. The above mentioned connection engines bleed into one another. And there will be blood.
Facebook vs. Google. Apple vs. Android. Amazon vs. Kindle.
Apple is no longer Apple Computers. Apple technology has cut into Nikon’s camera business, as well as Nintendo’s gaming business (Angry Birds).
Content and Contact. There are no boundaries between them.
All things analog are becoming digital.
All things digital are becoming mobile.
Thanks to location, all things mobile are becoming analog.
Two things our clients want to know:
Do we know what we’re talking about?
Why aren’t we collaborating better?
Our clients are making us reinvent ourselves. And re-inventing means experimenting. And having a tolerance for risk. And a comfort level with fear.
You get more by being an apprentice than a scholar.
Rishad explains many of these points in more detail in the various blogs he writes (after getting up every day at 4:30 am). He’s a sorely needed source of clarity and simplicity in a world of hype and hoopla. If you can hear him, do, and if you can’t, read him. http://rishadt.wordpress.com/about/