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Brand Managers: Avoid Being Seduced By Technology

Our love of new tech shouldn't cloud our judgement when it comes to delivering relevant products and services.

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Our love of new tech shouldn't cloud our judgement when it comes to delivering relevant products and services.

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Brand Managers: Avoid Being Seduced By Technology

Our love of new tech shouldn't cloud our judgement when it comes to delivering relevant products and services.

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I am often asked what makes for a successful, fast-growing start-up, especially in a competitive sector such as tech. We are all after that elusive magic ingredient that makes the difference between sinking and soaring.

However, it wasn’t until we found out we were once again winners of Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 that I felt it was time to take stock and really define our ‘secret sauce’ - in so doing I came to a rather unusual conclusion, especially for someone in the technology sector!

But let’s start at the beginning. For any organisation to continue rapidly expanding in a sector that is dominated by large players there is a real need to clearly define what makes them unique and build on this.

Innovation is a given - no organisation can hope to thrive without having innovation baked into their very DNA and this means never standing still.

I have learnt the hard way that change is indeed a constant - there is no getting away from this and there is no point resisting it either. To really thrive organisations need to leap into the flow of change and fully embrace it otherwise they will drift and finally sink.

Recognising the next challenge is what made me sit up and really pay attention however.

There is a real need for all of us to ensure that we are not becoming overly won-over by technology. The branding sector in particular tends to be readily seduced by the likes of AI, and I can see why.

It enables us to be more agile and therefore more responsive, it rapidly sifts through data and offers almost immediate insights. Yet we must never under-estimate the power of human emotion, of making informed decisions that are founded on human imagination and creativity. No machine will ever replace that.

Despite being in the technology sector, or perhaps because I am in this sector, I have seen many new trends emerge, succeed and fail. If this has taught me anything it is that technology is a wonderful tool but not a panacea to solve branding issues such as reach and relevance.

Instead, innovation requires, first and foremost, an agile approach based on quick learning, testing and adjusting cycles to drive better performance.

We have only to look at the way changing social attitudes, converging economic pressures and endless choice have scrambled the way millions of people consume. Consumer’s heightened expectations of ‘convenience’ is putting pressure on brands to ensure a joined-up experience. All the more reason for us to become masters of the technology we have at our finger tips rather than its slave.

When I took a Masters in computer sciences digital applications still sat somewhat remotely from ‘business as usual’. Later, as spreading a layer of digital across every sector increasingly became more common, it was exciting to witness how digital could not only improve efficiency, but, more importantly, how it became an invaluable tool that has driven business solutions far beyond our wildest imaginations.

If I take our own sector, smarter technology driven segmentation now enables us to target customers faster than ever before. This means we are now reaching them when they are most likely to be poised and ready to purchase.

Tapping into their behavioural patterns means we are able to deliver ads that hit the mark, and, as consequence, we are shifting away from an era of irritating, irrelevant ads being served seemingly at random.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg - it takes a very sophisticated targeting approach to accurately identify an audience. But this alone is not sufficient. This has to then be filtered to reveal optimal formats and delivery times.

It takes the human touch to recognise the need to continually refine the process, and of course if this is done well it certainly will improve not only brand managers and marketers campaigns as we avoid wastage and brand dilution, but consumer’s lives as we mirror their purchasing journey to improve the experience.

Minority Report no longer appears futuristic, with the likes of Apple hiring software engineers with a psychology background to help Siri have serious conversations, and Gartner predicting that by 2020 the average person will have more conversations with a bot than their spouse, we appear to have nimbly stepped into our own style of sci-fi life.

And this is where I go back to the very core of what makes a fast moving tech company successful - it is the empathy we have as consumers ourselves, it it truly about walking a mile in consumers’ shoes, it is about not getting carried away with technology for the sake of it but rather learning to mould it to our needs and continually focus back on how we can go that much further and beyond that.

Sharon Baker is the founder of Mighty Social.

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Brand Managers: Avoid Being Seduced By Technology

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