Change is constant. And in a world that is consistently changing at a rapid pace, predictions for 4IR are coming in hard and fast.
According to the recent The World Economic Forum, by 2025 the first automated machine will sit on a board of directors. Already, though, technology has changed the way we live, work, consume, love and learn – but how ready are we to embrace the change that 4IR brings?
The IMM Graduate School, in partnership with Nedbank, hosted its second annual Marketing the Future conferences in Cape Town and Johannesburg recently. Themed ‘Unlocking the human element in a digital world’, renowned speakers included Primedia Group’s Shavani Naidoo (data scientist) and Deborah Schepers, group head of analytics and insights; Anne Thistleton of Light Consultancy and ad commentator and industry guru Andy Rice, each of whom gave solid insights into how tech is transforming the role of marketers.
Talk 1: ‘How the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will change the way creatives work’
Data science expert Shavani Naidoo and Deborah Schepers led the talks with a combined presentation.
The duo detailed the core drivers of 4IR – including big data and analytics, autonomous vehicles Virtual Reality, virtual assistants, Artificial intelligence, IoT – and offered advice on how to counter this revolution by preparing for a future in which we may need to market to new entities.
Talk 2: “We are of two minds, as consumers – and marketers are listening and talking to the wrong one”
Anne Thistleton, a consumer marketing veteran and mind science practitioner who first came to South Africa two decades ago as a lead strategist for Coca-Cola, now runs her own consultancy. Offering attendees “a new lens through which to see marketing decisions”, Thistleton likened this view to the clarity through which she could see her lecturer’s scribbles on the board once she had her eyes tested and obtained a pair of spectacles.
Open our eyes she did.
She shared insights and findings from working with some of the world’s leading cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists and behavioural economists, around how the mind processes information. Thistleton’s analogy, that consumers are usually “of two minds,” refers to how we operate on a conscious and subconscious level.
Her overriding advice? Question the market research your brand is doing: “If you’re only talking to the conscious mind through a panel or focus groups, remember that that’s just the tip of the iceberg; go beneath the surface, and ask yourself: ‘What am I lighting up?’ Consider whether you’re lighting up on the customer experience from all five senses.”
This connected substantially with the final presentation, which focused largely on decision-making in a data-driven world.
Talk 3: “Even a Ferrari has a rear-view mirror”
Award-winning brand strategist and ad commentator Andy Rice, co-founder of South Africa’s first brand strategy consultancy, Yellowwood Brand Architects, delighted with a witty presentation that gave a wry look at the critical need for human cognition in a tech-based world.
The title of his presentation – first given 23 years ago – succinctly summarised the gist of his talk: no matter how fast or fantastically you can go, you still need to keep an eye on where you came from as you move ahead.
This, he pointed out, related especially to data – and trendspotting: “If it’s a trend, it’s already blindingly obvious – and if it’s a fad, it’ll soon fade,” he quipped. A surefire way to learn the distinction between the two is to refer back: check any prediction for the year’s accuracy by looking back on how that prediction played out at the end of the year.
Rice’s advice to marketers? “Keep track of trends and technological changes affecting the way consumers relate and react to brands – but don’t rely only on research. Get out there, meet people, and learn to look at challenges from the outside in; see customers in their entire world, in all aspects of their lives, and work that back into the category you’re dealing in, then into the brand space.”
With such a wealth of insights, marketers have all the resources they need to embrace the future.
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