3 min

Networx Highlights – Strategy & Innovation for 2019

Last night several Reload team members attended the final Networx event for 2018 (plus Christmas Party!) where three incredible speakers shared their thoughts on strategy and innovation trends heading into 2019… Jenny Williams, Chief Marketing Officer from Compare the Market, Nigel Dalton, Chief Inventor from REA Group and John Cosgrove, Partner – Salesforce Einstein from Khemistry. The discussions of the evening centred around all things innovation trends, the latest strategic approaches, AI platforms, omnichannel marketing, and what ‘enterprise agility’ really means for marketers. Our team was very impressed by the panel and topics presented, highlighting that it was “probably one of the best Networx events we’ve ever been to!”

There were so many great points and insights, between the panel discussion and the many conversations we had throughout the evening. But, we have done our best to compile our key takeaways to consider when looking forward into the new year.

First, let’s reflect on 2018…

There was a consensus amongst the panellists that customer-centric marketing has come a long way over the past 12 months and a lot of brands have been doing this really well. However, where marketers have struggled and fallen short is in consolidating their data and getting on top of data privacy, which leads nicely into our first key takeout from the evening…

#1 Marketers need to learn ethics and sort out their data

In our Something Digital Highlights, we recalled Caroline Sinders’ point about how “to design with machine learning, we have to come first from an ethical place and a transparent place”. Nigel Dalton reiterated the importance of ethics and transparency for modern marketers. He highlighted that Australian’s are interested in time, trust and transparency, and this is how REA have structured their strategy to support innovation for the Australian consumer. In fact, Nigel’s main point for the night was that all marketers need to learn about and understand ethics. “Trust comes in like a tortoise and goes out like a racehorse”, therefore businesses need to be taking an ethical approach to data management and marketing, or they just won’t survive.

Part of being ethical means getting on top of ethical data management, security and privacy, but as Jenny Williams highlighted, you can’t solve privacy and security unless you get your data sorted out! Jenny discussed how getting privacy right is not just about the technical side of things, but also understanding your customers’ attitudes towards privacy. Some people think advertising tailored to their behaviours is useful, others find it creepy, and the ‘creepy grey line that marketers shouldn’t cross’ is different for different people – so tailor your approach and segment your database accordingly!

#2 Australia used to be 7 years behind the UK…

… But John Cosgrove states that we have now reduced that gap to 2 years! But, we are now at the beginning of the next industrial revolution and the untouchables are becoming touchable in Australia (think, the property market, Big 4, etc). But what did we learn from the last industrial revolution? It took 60 years for mass adoption of the new manufacturing technologies and looking back, we can see that the tipping point of innovation is when the manufacturer refuses to create the ‘old’ technology and only services/produces the ‘new’ technology. However, no matter the developments in new technology, the core marketing principles are still the same:

  1. Understanding your customers
  2. Understanding your customers’ purchase/ decision journey
  3. Know what your customers need to hear and when the right time is to tell them this

#3 A great brand asset is only valuable if…

…it’s telling a story that helps customers understand what your brand does. Jenny Williams discussed how well known and loved the Compare the Market Meerkats are, yet so many people still don’t understand what the company really does. The challenge that Jenny has been helping address since joining the Compare the Market team is revising their approach to how they use those brand assets to tell a better story that helps people understand what they do. What does this look like? The Meerkats are emigrating to Aus and have moved to Melbourne!

#4 Conversational AI is the future!

Chat and audio interfaces are trends that customers do and will expect when they interact with brands and businesses (think around-the-clock, instant access). To deliver on these expectations, brands need to build their AI on an understanding of what their customers want and expect, and how conversational AI can add value to them, in order to deliver a truly rewarding experience. John Cosgrove discussed how this requires understanding their persona and intents and crafting a conversational architecture with dialogue and content, that lends itself to the chat interface and/or audio (which has no interface at all). Ultimately, the only way businesses can feasibly deliver on customers’ expectations for instant 24/7 access, is by integrating conversational AI technology. If you’re looking to better understand Conversational AI, you can check out our page on the topic here.

My personal note on this topic: AI isn’t coming, it’s already here! The tech is already available and accessible, and conversational AI is something that any size business can implement to varying extents. However, it seems that too many businesses are waiting for someone else to make a move!

A big thank you to Networx Brisbane for a great lineup of events this year! 2018 has been a big one and looking back on all the success it has brought, we can’t help but be excited for all there is to look forward to in 2019. Here’s to becoming even more customer-centric, educating ourselves on the critical matters of ethics, embracing AI and conversational interfaces, and becoming smarter with technologies that will make our work bigger, faster, stronger and better!