Radical's Managing Director Aisling Blake takes a look at the future of crowd-sourced technology
The robots are coming. But this invasion is something to be embraced, rather than rejected. We will always be in the business of human connections and emerging technologies are simply a tool we should harness to forge the strongest connections possible between people and brands. People are still the originators, holding the power to use technologies – such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality – to make experiences and communications better. Use cases cannot be conceived and created without an inspirational insight, a single-minded idea and a collective of great thinkers to bring it to life.
Take Elon Musk – he’s not about gimmicks. He’s obsessed with the problems that humanity faces and won’t stop until he has provided a solution. He doesn’t create companies for the sake of creating companies, but to get things done. And the technologies he conceives are about making the world a better place. He is inventing a future that is world-changing. My favourite is The Hyperloop, a development which will fundamentally change how people connect with each other. Musk’s Boring Company recently announced that it has been given verbal approval by the US Government to build a Hyperloop from New York to Washington DC, making the journey in a predicted time of 29 minutes. Currently, driving this distance takes nearly four hours!
Musk’s mind-blowing innovations require creative and expansive thinking. In the world of communications, we need to use that same unbounded thinking to conceive ideas and present solutions that connect people with each other and the brands we are building. According to the Global Digital Outlook Study from SoDA and Forrester, agency leaders, on a global scale view emerging technologies as the biggest driver of revenue growth for them in 2017. And this is reflected in similar areas where marketers see themselves increasing their budgets. We can’t let cultural dissonance – the confusion and discomfort that people feel when they are in the middle of change in their cultural environment – lead us to reject these emerging technologies and the opportunities they can bring.
Coupled with unbounded thinking, using emerging technologies to foster better communication requires a culture of collaboration and open innovation. Attending Cannes in June, I could see that this focus on the collective ability was a common thread running through creativity, strategy, technology and advertising. In 2017, we see crowdsourcing as an overused word, when in fact the power of the crowd is more important than ever. We cannot possibly know everything there is to know about the Internet of Things or augmented reality, but what we can do is draw on expertise in all these areas when needed to solve a marketing problem. For example, Paul Gaudio, Global Creative Director at adidas, refers to adidas as a community (rather than a brand) in which they partner with designers, sports stars and the people who wear their apparel to create and market their products.
NASA believe in having an open culture to creatively solve problems together. What this means in practice is that a useful idea can genuinely come from anywhere. Showcasing this culture in Cannes, they talked through how they launched a competition aimed at finding a safe, medically-sound solution for the challenging problem of ‘spacepoop’. The problem was opened to the public and was solved by an expert they wouldn’t normally have had access to. Developing human connections, supported and enhanced by emerging technologies, takes creativity and unbounded thinking, as well as an environment that supports open innovation and collaboration. To truly harness the power of the crowd, agencies, brands and marketers, must embrace the potential of where creativity and technology can take us.