In the middle of the STREAM
Joe McGlynn, Business Director, Wunderman
What exactly is an “unconference for unconventional people”?
· It’s a place to find out what you can learn from a unicorn.
· It’s a time to learn what work and life look like if we live to 100.
· It’s an opportunity to hear how 3D body scanning will disrupt retail.
It’s 72 hours with 350 people at WPP’s Stream.
A typical conference is a one-way street of information. Speakers, either in front or behind a lectern, will deliver talks aimed at presenting their points-of-view. There are clear roles and responsibilities assigned.
And while some may say, “Well, you get out of it what you put in,” the difference with Stream is that everyone must contribute, and wants to contribute. Death by PowerPoint doesn’t exist at Stream. Discussion topics are inspired and created by those attending. Scheduled via chalkboards, taking on formats from your conventional discussion to PowerPoint karaoke and ignite talks.
While at first glance some of the session titles may appear as irreverent, even slightly ludicrous, the information remains highly relevant. Stream reminds us that we all work in a creative industry. In its unique way, it enables everyone to embrace inner creativity, challenge the norm, and brainstorm what the future may hold. Stream brings together people across WPP agencies, partners and our clients including experts in creative, media, data, and technology to provoke radical thinking. It also includes relevant and radical entrepreneurs, artists, and investors, making the debates even more interesting.
While topics varies, a few areas kept surfacing:
Customer Experience Remains the Core
Is branded content dead? In today’s world, can a consumer be loyal? What is the future for brands? We can debate these topics until we’re blue in the face (and we did). We all kept coming back to what constitutes the customer experience. Successful brands focus on getting the customer experience right, and that should be driven from the top of the organisation. As a customer experience led-agency, Wunderman has a great deal of familiarity with this topic. Through ethnographic studies, data, analytics and brilliant service design, we’re able to gather the insights required to understand a day-in the life of our customers, and enhance every customer experience by focusing on moments that have the biggest impact and creative services that answer genuine customer needs. We see brands making the mistake of viewing customer experience at a very-high level and missing the granular level detail that is required to create meaningful experiences. The successful ones (think AirBnb and Selfridges) succeed today because they commit to ensuring every consumer touchpoint is an incredible one.
AR, AI and other emerging tech is not yet realised
There is tremendous amount of new technology available that everyone is eager to use. The question is how? We don’t have to look back very far to see the use and misuse of technology (May I scan your QR code anyone?). We throw “shiny objects” at the customer experience — perhaps doing more harm than good. We often ask ourselves, can we do something with AR? Maybe AI? A better question might be: “Is this what’s right for the brand?” The answer is “yes” if it brings value to the customer experience. Without knowing it, many of us interact with AI every day. Deliveroo has used AI to reduce delivery times by roughly 20% whilst Ikea has built an AR app to help e-commerce shoppers visualize how items might look in their homes while shopping online. These were right for their brand.
At Wunderman, we like to say “fail and adapt quickly”
It was interesting to see how many people talked about “making things”. Often, we get so held up in developing a strategy, and lose sight on what technology enables us to create. At Wunderman, we like to say “fail and adapt quickly” because technology affords us to fail faster — and cheaply. One of my favourites quotes is from General Omar Bradley who said, “amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics”. It’s nice to see this sentiment still rings true 70+ years later. By placing something tangible into customers hands we accelerate our learning cycles and our strategy becomes rooted in what we know will work.
The ability to bounce back and learn from failure, creating something far more impactful than you began with, comes down to behaviour. Behaviour of our people, that was ever more evident at Stream. The thing that stood-out to me the most, is the diverse group of talent that sits across WPP and our partners, who constantly strive for success, push boundaries and dare to be different. There has never been a better time to be in the creative industry, and part of WPP.