“The best and latest in corporate innovation.”
That’s how organisers of the virtual summit Innov8rs Connect described the 2019 online event, which took place in mid-December. Professionals from across the globe were asked to contribute audio submissions in response to a series of innovation-related questions.
Here’s an edited transcript of the thoughts I shared.
What one to three key challenges have you overcome in 2019?
I work on the content marketing side of the business. We are challenged by the vastness of the media landscape. Advertisers can put their dollars against campaigns on Google, Facebook, and other social platforms. Amazon is a major player. We’re still up against television, radio, and other digital media. Even print is still a thing.
If you think about formats, podcasts have emerged as an increasingly popular storytelling option, and mixed reality is edging onto people’s radars. I think about marketing generally as akin to an aerobic exercise — you need to constantly jump up and down to get an audience to pay attention. That means being in the market on a regular basis, all year long.
A lot of advertisers still think about short-term, focused campaigns. Convincing them of the effectiveness of a long-term, multi-pronged, multi-platform, multi-format strategy is a big hurdle. But it’s the approach they need to take to be successful.
How are you doing things differently and better? What is your unique sauce?
Innovation inherently requires risk. In 2012, The Globe and Mail introduced its digital subscription model. Seven years ago, it was studded with risks, but over time it has become a significant revenue contributor to the business. Leading into 2012, online audiences had grown accustomed to many years of free digital content and it wasn’t going to be easy to tear down that model.
What does this tell us? At a time when companies seem to be introducing new subscription services every day, it’s hugely valuable to have a long runway. The technology side of our business has grown alongside the subscription business, and one hand feeds the other. We’ve also learned over time that in an age of “fake news” accusations, a significant chunk of the market is willing to pay for quality news media.
What do you see as the most important trend in corporate innovation in general, for 2020, and beyond?
Data, Artificial Intelligence, and machine learning are the story of the past year. If you look at all the popular tech-company hashtags — fintech, martech, proptech, healthtech, edutech, cleantech, agtech, insurtech — they’re all rooted in these three fields. They’re going to continue to disrupt markets, economies, and jobs.
The big questions are: How can humans contribute in this new economy? How can non-tech industries keep up? How can we stem the tide of layoffs, now and in the future, resulting from advancements in technology?
There’s a reason whispers of basic income have turned into more audible conversations.
Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond, the arrival of 5G will eliminate mobile lag times and download speeds. Video and Augmented Reality, particularly on social platforms, will increase in volume and scope and become more viable. Location-based data will become more widely available and far more precise. These changes will impact every industry.
Privacy will continue to be a hot topic and concern in certain quarters. The question is, will more people start to care, particularly federal governments? It’s hard to say.
What is your final message for your peers worldwide?
It may be one of the world’s most overused quotes but I think it’s still super relevant to what I’m about to say: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness.”
We have more information in the palms of our hands than any time in human history. We should be enlightened. Many of us are. But the Internet — and the platforms it spawned — have also ushered in an age of misinformation, where anyone can say anything to a wide audience, whether true or not, with few or no consequences. Where anyone can call anything lies or untruths, even when the facts are established and proven.
We find our tribes, but our tribes usually think like us and act like us, leaving less room for debate and compromise.
Can we emerge from this state of affairs? That will be the question of our age.