#54 A change is gonna come

I’m experiencing a wave of optimism over the last period. Everywhere I look I see small and bigger news facts that strengthen my believe in a bright future driven by innovative new technology. I try not to focus too much on short-term current affairs like the Brexit or the epic supercell storm that ruined the roof of my house last week. I’m looking at the bigger picture – or actually – a huge technological and creative canvas that is waiting to be explored. If you want to now what I mean – read on!

Last year I wrote a blog about Moore’s Law and it’s influence on brand communication. The blog is named Tech Revolution vs. Human Evolution. A few weeks back my colleagues of The Marketing Technologist blog  asked me to translate this blog into English.

And while I was doing this- coincidently – we (our agency) were asked to join in a pitch for the social media activities of one the world’s leading manufacturers of chip-making equipment who use Moore’s Law as a guiding principle for their business. Funny. This somehow gave me the feeling as if I was wearing these goggles where I started to notice all kinds of relationships between stuff I read and people I talked to all related to change and Moore’s Law. Selective perception at it’s best!

Because in the same week, me and my colleague Floris were looking at the past, present and future of our agency in order to give our colleagues a bit more guidance and clarity to where we are heading. We’ve been growing fast over the last few years so people can get the idea that growth itself is our mission – where it is merely a consequence of doing the stuff we like doing.

Floris and I came to the obvious conclusion that crazy things have happened in the past few years (only 4 years) and when we look at the future, we expect even more crazy stuff to happen to us, at an accelerating rate. So dear colleagues; there’s your guidance 😉

Facebook as a guiding principle

Over the last 4 years we have developed by being on top of the latest developments of Facebook. We adopt these developments as fast as we can, and try to apply them for our clients within – and outside of – the Facebook Eco System. In these past few years Facebook has developed from a fun platform for branding purposes into a killer marketing system for brand- and performance marketing that expands way outside the social platform. Our agency activities have roughly followed the same path.

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So if you look ahead we see even more interesting stuff, from dynamic creatives, to 360 video, AR/VR, 1:1 messenger marketing through chatbots and Artificial Intelligence. If Marc Zuckerberg says it’s going to happen – why not assume it will? Following ‘normal’ reasoning we may think this is all in the far future – 10 years ahead? Perhaps longer?  But if you consider what has happened over the last 4 years, if you consider the power of Facebook as an eco system, and if you consider Moore’s Law – you may want to change your perspective and realise this maybe reality sooner rather than later.

So in fact, just like this world’s leading manufacturers of chip-making equipment, Facebook is ‘guided’ by Moore’s Law. We as an agency are guided by Moore’s Law. A large part of the world’s progress is guided by Moore’s Law…

So what does this mean for marketing?

Meaningful marketing

Before I get there, another moment of serendipity crossed my path. Let me take you back to that blogpost I wrote a year ago. In it I described Information Overload has one of the negative consequences of Moore’s Law; Because of all this technology getting closer and closer to our brain we get drenched in commercial messages and captological stimuli all day leading to serious physical and mental problems .

The graphs of the Tech revolution and Human evolution may look similar – except there is about a million years of difference between them.

 

Currently are not living in an attention economy but in a districation economy where businesses make money out of distracting people (quite close to a distruction economy as far as I’m concerned.) If consumers haven’t gone crazy yet they are taking measures by installing ad blockers and turning off their devices in ‘30-day-offline-type-off- challenges‘. At the same time the discussion about the efficiency of online advertising is running hot at the moment! Fact is that there is a lot of waste. And we need to come up with a solution.

Last year Brandhomes’ Erik Saelens used the example of the two graphs mentioned above in one of his presentations. I’m a big admirer of Erik so I’d like to think my blogpost put an idea in his head. And last month when presenting in Bogota (of all places) he took this concept even further and pleaded for more Meaningful Marketing; Less quantity more quality. Great stuff.

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Erik Saelens speaking at EXMA Bogota earlier this year

His plea for meaningful marketing resonated strongly in my mind since one of the core and guiding principles of the things we do at Blossom is he answer to the question: ‘doet ’t er toe?’ (or in English; is there a purpose?’). Is there a point for the advertiser (Hey, there is a business problem to tackle here!)? But also – is there a point for the consumer? (Would he or she appreciate it).

Because only then, a meaningful relation between brand and consumer will have a chance to exist.

A change is gonna come

Floris and I could ease this insights into our agencies fresh’ vision and mission statement. The only constant factor in our business is change. So we spend a few minutes listening the song in different versions. It was a few minutes well spend and I advise everybody to take that time.

 

Change will come faster and faster. This means innovation, speed and agility become key.

I was wondering how we could make change part of the agency structure and my own job without running the risk of following after every fad without thinking. We don’t want to jump on every bandwagon passing. That would drive people insane and more importantly, history has shown it’s a waist of energy.

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I remember the rush around Ello a few years ago…pfff…

And exactly that day my digital source of mindfood Nasser Sahool published a post about Stoicism. Nasser uses the book Meditations, written by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius 2000 years ago as a guidance for 2016 digital strategist. I loved the philosophical angle of his blogpost.

never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present‘.

When change is all around it’s important for the digital strategist to simplify and remain cool. Nobody knows the truth. All we have is assumptions. Knowing this we just do our best to make the most out of a certain situation for ourselves and our clients by embracing change instead of resisting it. But change should never be an objective – it’s only a means to an end; to find creative solutions to our clients business problems and have a purpose as an agency.

Now let’s zoom out a bit mo(o)re.

Perhaps my futuristic goggles created a self-fulfilling (self-absorbing) prophecy but I can clearly see the fruits of Moore’s law poring over society. Predictions are that a big chunk of our jobs will be made obsolete because of robotica and (simple) Artificial Intelligence in the near future. There are calls for a basic income in Switzerland and the Netherlands already.

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But also, production costs of food and energy will drop significantly cars are getting cleaner by the year and healthcare will remain to be more advanced and accessible in the future. If you look at platforms like The Next Web, look at The Worlds Best News – positive developments for humanity are all around us. Yet somehow we have this crazy idea that everything is getting worse!

Historically speaking this is nothing new. When big changes happen, societies first response is to resist – we want to go back to the old days, the familiar days. Just look at the current situation in Europe. Looks familiar right? But it’s not going to happen – better yet – we should not want to get back to the old days. Every time frame has had it’s struggles but in the long run – things have always moved forward. So why would we want to move backwards now?

Societies collective consciousness moves at a slower rate than technological change. That’s the reason why adaption of change is slow and resistance against change seems to be rising. The fact is we were all raised in a time where change was slower than it is now. We have no experience in dealing with faster change. But what will happen when change that used to happen over a period of a lifetime now occurs every 5 years? Or even faster. We have to adjust our mindset.

Currently we are not educated to adapt to change yet. We study for 4 years for professions that maybe obsolete by the time the study is finished. That’s silly. New skills and expertises will rise and disappear faster and faster. This means we shouldn’t educate professions too much, we should educate fields of expertise, multi-disciplinary cooperation and basic skillsets and the capacity to adopt to change. I read a great article about this challenge here in which Julie Ross, the dean of engineering and IT at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, explains why people should adapt to this idea.

“How do we get people to understand and embrace that concept?” said Ross at a recent event hosted by The Washington Post. “That you need to be a lifelong learner, that the things that you’re learning today may be obsolete in 5 years — and that’s okay? You can get comfortable with that idea if you’re comfortable with your capacity to learn. And that’s something we have to figure out how to instill in every student today.”

This implicates that our educational system should change too. And fast.Fact is that it is hard for humans to grasp a future situation. We have an tendency to move backwards into the future. But my guess is the next generation will look at us – working behind screens, struggling with IFS, dealing with stress, responding to pings and vibrations all the time, resiting technological and intercultural change – the same way we look at our grandparents who had to fight wars and worked the lands 7 days a week.

For future generations what we do now, is as incomprehensible as their future is to us now. Think about it. I believe the future is bright. And that’s a fun belief.

T.B.C.

PS. We lost the pitch. But the fun we had in the process was well worth it.

 

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