Leveraging technology to stay ahead of the curve

By Tunde Animasaun

The business and economic landscape of the world has ever been dynamic and vibrant. But at no period in history has the dynamism as frequent and intense as what we have now and there was no pre-warning signs either. Within the space of two to three years, technology has moved from the internet to the virtual, metaverse, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

Knowing the centrality of technology to all businesses in the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) spectrum, MARKETING RDGE ,as is the tradition, organized a Fireside Conversation on ‘Staying Ahead of the Curve: Combining Technology and Creativity to Leapfrog with Superior Value Offerings’, among others, to galvanise, re-capacitate and prepare the staff for year 2023. Facilitators were drawn from the young, vibrant and tech savvy eggheads across the IMC spectrum

Speaking on the above theme, Omobolanle Akingbala, Head of Brands &Strategic Partnerships, Zedi Africa said the pace at which digital is changing the industry game on traditional marketing is massive and dynamic.

She harped on how digital has leveraged agile marketing to disrupt marketing planning.  She said the impact of agility has seeped into marketing such that it is expedient to check customer behaviour, feedback, and adoption culture to know if what we held as valid is still relevant or obsolete. It’s not that this didn’t happen before, it’s just that the timelines in between are far shorter.

“According to the 2022 State of Agile Marketing Report, 55 percent of Agile marketing teams release things faster, and 48 percent can change gears quickly when feedback demands it.

“Since the rise of technology, the focus of marketing has shifted from competitive advertising to the collection and distribution of data for the purpose of understanding the consumers, and finding even more ways to reach them. Technology has impacted the growth of a lot of businesses, as it has availed brands the opportunities to create relationships with their customers and strengthen the effectiveness of the company. “Thanks to COVID-19 pandemic & the lockdown; digital transformations accelerated everything, including innovation, and switching the boards on customer expectations as well as how they want to be served”, she said.

Israel Ogunseye, Head of Marketing at Kobobid, on his part, averred that the first step to keeping up with the latest trend is by putting the customer first. Recalling what business used to be like pre and post COVID-19 pandemic, he explained that the world is evolving at a very fast pace thereby compelling businesses to also move at the speed of light.

“Once upon a time in our profession, you would find that if you wanted to book a ride, you would use Uber, but right now, Uber as a business looked at the landscape, understood their consumers, and pivoted their business models to food deliveries through Uber Eats. Uber as a business would have said we are comfortable with just doing rides, but it looked at the business landscape and decided what other revenue opportunities we could take advantage of by opening up food deliveries and person-to-person deliveries,” he said.

He therefore advised participants to have open minds and welcome change.

“From this conversation, I want us to open our minds to endless possibilities that can happen to us as a business, individuals and as professionals beyond the now, and look into the future. In the future, where do you want your business to be and what position do you want us to be”, he queried.

Emphasizing the strategic place of culture, even,  in this fast-paced technological evolution, Oladipupo Mohammed, Manager, Brands Marketing & Communications at Inlaks said that not paying attention to culture is one of the culprits for strategy failure.

According to the business strategist, “A business strategy is an outline of the decisions and actions an organisation plans to take in reaching its goals and objectives. It defines what should be done and why; to guide various processes for resource allocation. A business strategy helps different departments to work together; ensuring decisions support the overall direction of the company.”

Emphasisng the importance of culture, he said culture is the mother of strategy. He quoted Peter Drucker, the management consultant, educator’s popular saying that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ to buttress this. “No matter how great your business strategy is, your plan will fail without a company culture that encourages people to implement it”, he stressed.

Another facilitator, Itua Aihezi, Head of Brand Marketing Communication & Digital Experiential Business at Connect Marketing Services, who spoke on Business Strategy, and Building Cutting-Edge & Competitive Strategies: Keeping Up with the Latest Trends in a Fast-Paced World maintained that technology remains the best way to enhance operational models. This, he said, will enable unique product offerings that will lead to profitability and sustainability.

He identified two ways to stand out with a business model that cannot be easily copied. These are through technology and trend spotting.

“Understanding your market and how you play in it, and understanding what your competitors are doing. This is very key. Your primary; that is, your direct competitor, as well as substitute. Knowing what to look out for and where the money is coming from is necessary to stay sustainable. “

Driving his message home to his primary audience, he charged, “How can we make this industry better as journalist, as a media people, because you are a strong voice in this space. Even in your report, how you want to be perceived is important. Agenda setting is one objective that you should not joke with. Who determines the discourse you amplify and who needs to be amplified”.

He advised that for the leading marketing journalism platform to successfully negotiate the waves of change, it must harness its competitive edge using new technology in a new way.

The fifth speaker at the Fireside, Tony Eguridu, General Manager at Michael Angelo Media Ltd, and one of the leading lights in the Out-of-Home advertising, also identified technology and creativity as the basic ingredients for business success in the integrated marketing communications industry.

He agreed with Akingbala and others that faster response time (agility), technology, innovation, impeccable customer management system are germane to business success in the contemporary business world.

“To remain in business and stay relevant, you must be able to differentiate your product from others. Staying ahead of the curve is all about being faster than other brands, people, companies, ideas, and technology. It is by being competitive and doing things differently. We must be creative by developing new products that will keep us ahead of our competitors, and embrace technology that can keep the overhead very low. Also, we must offer value to our would-be buyers/clients, ensure we have zero tolerance for distractions, avoid procrastinations as well as being deliberate and intentional,” he said

Leading the pack of eggheads that congregated MARKERTING EDGE for the Fireside was a veteran and former managing Director at StarComms, Feyi Olubodun who now plies his trade as the, Founder and Managing Partner of Open Squares Africa.

Feyi who wowed the audience with his incisive, insightful and experienced-based extempore presentation on ‘Prioritizing Social Responsibility: Integrating Sustainability within Business Strategy’, hinged his presentation on transiting from the present to the future of the industry.

According to Olubodun, the focus of the Nigerian IMC ecosystem should be towards having groups and big Agencies that will be able to compete effectively on the global level. He stressed that this can only happen when leaders of the industry are favourably disposed to synergy/strategic partnerships between old and new generation agencies and professionals.

The seasoned strategist, who has traversed the Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) spectrum, stressed the need for the younger generation of professionals to be included in the strategic affairs of the industry to engender continuity and knowledge transfer, if industry growth must be stimulated.

“For business sustainability, partnership agreements between older agencies and new ones should begin to manifest with each allowed to bring its unique selling point to the table for growth and sustainability. When this doesn’t happen the older agencies die off and the new ones struggle to grow and may eventually sell to international conglomerates at big prices and move on,” he said.

The stakeholders all have take-home messages to all stakeholders in the IMC ecosystem in Nigeria.

On regulation, the seasoned marketing communication expert posited that agencies and advertisers should have mutual understanding.

For the regulatory body, the advice is for the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria, ARCON to harmonise the industry by continuous stakeholder engagement until all are on the same page.

They also advised brands and businesses to optimise listening, cancel silo working, and optimise omnichannel communication. This will activate feedback that facilitates more creative innovation.



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