Q5: Trends & tenacity, with Tessa Conrad [interview]
by Carey Finn (@carey_finn) Global director of operations for TBWA\Worldwide, based in New York City, Tessa Conrad (@tessaconrad) shares some insights from a recent visit to TBWA\South Africa. She talks innovation, the future of work, and how local businesses can leapfrog into the next decade.
Q5: What is the most important future trend companies need to be planning for?
Tessa Conrad: People are what set us up for success, and therefore companies need to be planning for the future of talent, above all else. When it comes to innovation, people put far too much focus on technology; innovation is simply a change or idea that can be applicable to opportunities around just about everything. The evolution around talent desires and needs, regarding things like transparency, work-life balance, gender parity, diversity, upskilling, etc — these are some of the talent areas calling for innovation, and the future of talent is not a trend that companies can afford to not plan for.
Q5: Some companies are moving off Facebook — including Lush UK, recently. Will we see a shift away from social media over the coming years, when it comes to marketing strategy?
TC: I don’t think we’ll see brands shift away from social media over the coming years, given so much of the world’s population continue to be present there — and brands will always follow consumer habits. What I do think we’ll see is a more-evolved way of using social that focuses on a very clear value exchange between consumers and brands in regards to sharing their data. For example, things like: solid branded content, personalised and relevant offers that consumers have knowledgeably agreed to receive, etc. A more-transparent relationship will likely increase consumer trust in brands as data-privacy concerns rise.
Q5: What does an office of the future look like to you?
TC: Hopefully, the office of the future will be us on a roadtrip in an autonomous electric car with an interior that’s cool and [conducive to creativity]. But, in all seriousness, I don’t think an office of the future is an “office” at all — it’ll be a revamp around how people work. We’ll see a continued shift towards remote working, digital nomads and the like, meaning an office will be wherever you can connect to the internet.
Q5: What do you think South African businesses’ strongest selling points are in the global marketplace?
TC: South African businesses are pros at leapfrogging the competition when it comes to innovation. If you look at things like the use of data, mobile penetration, mobile banking, etc — these are all areas where, in very little time, businesses here have been able to make significant strides. Through that, I’d say a major selling point in the global marketplace is the sheer tenacity of businesses pushing for progress while surprising the competition. I’m excited to see what’s next.
Q5: Where do our businesses need to improve, in order to remain competitive internationally?
TC: When it comes to replicating success that competitors have [enjoyed] internationally, SA businesses need to ensure they really listen to and adapt to specifically serve their local audience. Being the first-mover in a market is great, but it’s also a missed opportunity if you don’t learn from other countries that have done something similar, and ensure you adapt an idea that you’re scaling to directly suit a different local audience. When it comes to creating success and sharing it with the world, SA businesses need to continue to be brave and proud. Using their leapfrog positioning to their advantage, they’ve got to just go for it when it comes to innovation — and then boldly share it with the world.
- Read more about Tessa: tbwa.com/pirates/tessa-conrad
Carey Finn (@carey_finn) is a writer and editor with a decade and a half of industry experience, having covered everything from ethical sushi in Japan to the technicalities of roofing, agriculture, medical stuff and more. She’s also taught English and journalism, and dabbled in various other communications ventures along the way, including risk reporting. As a contributing writer to MarkLives.com, her new regular column “Q5” aims to hone in on strategic insights, analysis and data through punchy interviews with experts in media, marketing and design.