Keeping up with transformation

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If you slow your transformation down you will be left behind, writes MediaCom Chief Transformation Officer, Sue Unerman following MediaCom UK’s annual Transformation Week.

I get 200 emails a day, and three-quarters of them are people breathlessly telling me about their wonderful solution that will change my life. Some percentage of them are probably right but I don’t begin to have enough time to read all those emails let alone answer them… it is one of my greatest sources of anxiety: how do I keep up? How do I know what’s going on? How do I know what I need to know?

Peter Horst
CMO Hershey for CMOs at Work

Every year we set out to answer this question in MediaCom UK’s annual Transformation Week. Our MediaCom experts, inspirers, agitators, our colleagues from WPP and GroupM and our partners at media owners come together for what amounts to a festival of transformation.

This year, Transformation Week was September 20th-24th. There were 25 brilliant sessions with more than 2,300 attendees, and overall attendance was up year-on-year by over a quarter. Clearly, we are tapping into a common need.

If you want to know what you really need to know, then the answers and the discussions are recorded here, 20+ videos in which we are truly seeing the bigger picture.

Mark Read, WPP’s Global CEO, and Dame Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, spoke to news anchor Nina Hussein about business transformation, and were united in agreeing on what is a key overall theme of this year’s Transformation Week: acceleration. Strategies for business development, and particularly digital transformation, are in place in many companies and are sound. What is necessary now is speed of action.

There are different ways to deliver this acceleration: from adopting more agile processes, new ways of working, the acquisition of new skills to addressing how we deal with data.

Nigel Robinson, Managing Partner and Katy Woodward, Planning Director talked us through transformation and agile ways of working, with several converts to the new best practice at MediaCom, describing their personal journeys. For instance, Saira Digby explained that she had been nervous of the change until she experienced the agile approach in action. A survey of agile adopters showed three-quarters of those using agile techniques, such as sprint reviews, are both happier and producing better work.

The power of an agile approach to digital transformation was explained by Steve Peters and Dave Heath from Code, our digital transformation studio: using a powerful technique – the “How might we…?” question, they drove millions in extra revenue for one client by taking their booking systems online.

Working in new ways was a key theme of MediaCom’s client session where Kerry Chilvers, Brands Director from Direct Line Group, Catherine Lees, Director of Consumer Strategy from Sky, and Nick Ashley, Head of Media and Planning from Tesco, spoke with MediaCom UK’s Head of Planning, James Parnum, and their respective agency leads, Catherine Pronzato, Hannah McWilliam and Rebecca Davies, about the future of client and agency partnerships. Smashing silos, creating one team of agency and client talent and working in an agile way were key takeouts from this insightful session.

We heard about new skills from Snap, especially how to use Augmented Reality (AR) to enhance the shopper journey (more than 200 million users try things on with AR before buying).

Lindsey Jordan, MediaCom UK’s Head of Creativity, our UK ECD, Tom Curtis, and Bonita Samuels, Creative Systems Lead, talked about the new skills required to maximise the impact of creativity by bringing diverse voices in, by using data in new and exciting ways to power relevancy as well as the rapid impact of democratization on creativity as social allows everyone to have a voice. This session was packed full of amazing work – including Croatia’s Dogvertising award-winning approach.

The ethics of data usage were covered in two sessions: MediaCom’s Owain Wilson – Global Managing Partner, Head of Data, told us to be clear that just because you can do something with data, doesn’t mean you should. Stay in control, be trusted and be relevant was his three-part mantra. Our UK MD, Satin Reid, interviewed GroupM’s Niel Bornman, Chief Products and Services Officer at GroupM, who reinforced the importance of a data ethics policy and disclosed that he isn’t that optimistic consumers will ever be in control of their own data.

It’s impossible to cover every session here, and there’s much more to delve into. Other highlights included Google urging us to update the shopper experience too, with one case study showing a 40% improvement in returns when visual formats were added. Clear Channel and Contagious recommended the power of “mousetrap marketing” where the brand leaves room for the consumer to participate. MediaCom’s Helen Brain and IPA president Julian Douglas warned against the pitfalls of “green washing; green wishing and green hushing”. Savvy consumers will pick you up on the first two and remaining silent is not good enough.

Let’s leave the last words to MediaCom UK’s CEO, Kate Rowlinson and GroupM UK’s CEO, Karen Blackett setting the agenda for the future. They talked about the role we can all play in creating a better fairer society through our work, and the importance of trusting your gut, listening to your instincts for doing the right thing.

Speed and acceleration are crucial, because if you slow your transformation down you will be left behind. All of us also have an active role to play in making work and the workplace better. Forming new skills are an essential part of that…what new skill will you acquire this year?

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