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Creativity unlocks technology

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The distance between bands and consumers has almost disappeared, and this combined with new technologies has changed our understanding of what creativity is and what it can achieve, writes ROB NEWLAN, head of the Facebook Creative Shop in EMEA.

Today the bar for creativity is extremely high. It starts with people. Anyone can use the phone in their pocket to shoot and edit high quality video – something that would have been unthinkable even ten years ago. Anyone with a mobile phone has a computer in their pocket – from shooting and editing video on a smartphone to banking on a feature phone. Small businesses can shoot a video of their product, market it and accept payment all online. Brands and consumers now exist side to side, and often face to face, in a vast digital landscape. The distance between brand and consumer has all but disappeared, and the resulting intimacy – combined with the ongoing explosion of new technologies – has changed our understanding of what creativity is, and what it can achieve.

We need to inspire people, and more importantly, we need to create value for people. What’s good for people is good for businesses.

The (fast evolving) context 

Digital communication in Africa is booming. The change is so fast paced it’s hard to keep track. Even so, at Facebook one word matters to us above all others. Mobile.

According to ITU data, roughly 685 million Africans have mobile cellular subscriptions, while some 200 million have access to the Internet. 120 million Africans are on Facebook, and more than 80% of them will return to Facebook using mobile devices, predominantly feature phones rather than smartphones.

Mobile is a deeply personal device. Your phone is often the first thing you check when you wake up, and the last thing you check before you head to sleep. Your phone is so much more than a communication device – it is often how you get directions, bank or read the news. And that doesn’t include WhatsApp. The bottom line is people are living their lives on mobile devices.

People are at the core of the Facebook and Instagram experiences. The average user now spends more than 46 minutes a day across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. At Facebook we believe ads can be amazing experiences. Technology unlocks the power to tell incredible stories to the right person at the right time no matter where they are. And the creative community – agencies and brands alike – now have the mobile canvas to tell better stories to people that are relevant, inspiring and impactful.

Video, collaborative creativity and emotional connections

People are increasingly adopting visual language to communicate. As a result, video consumption is sky-rocketing, particularly in high-growth regions. Billions of videos are viewed on Facebook every day, and a full three quarters of these views take place on mobile devices.

We have just started to unlock the potential of sight, sound and motion in a feed-driven world. Two case studies from the recent Cannes Lions festival reveal the power of this transformation.

Despite its long running success for P&G, the Always sanitary pad product recently risked losing relevance with a new, younger audience. The Always #LikeaGirl campaign changed all that by asking every day consumers to explore the meaning behind a common and rather patronising phrase, ‘Like a girl’. (As in “she throws Like a Girl”). #LikeAGirl became the most watched video in P&G’s history, with 48 million views in North America and 76 million views globally. Ad recall was extremely strong, and emotional connection to the brand went up in the target audience, while rivals suffered slight declines. The video was distributed not on TV, but through social media.

Similarly, American sports apparel brand, Under Armour, turned its previously macho male identity on its head with a quirky exploration of the pressures of being female in the 21st century, inclusive of a celebration of women who ‘defy expectations and ignore the noise of outside judgements.’ The campaign centred on the pay off line I WILL WHAT I WANT, and featured two stunning videos, the first highlighting ballerina Misty Copeland and the second model Gisele Bündchen.

Two things stand out in both campaigns.

First, the brands combined science and art to show different audiences various creative ways to discuss ideas that really mattered to them. The end result in both cases was a campaign that genuinely touched people’s hearts and minds. Both brands laid the foundation for consumers to get creative in the realm of personal life philosophy.

Second, in both instances people were a primary creative force. The #LikeaGirl video incorporated real young people, exploring – on camera – gender and life philosophy. The conversation at the heart of the campaign was defined and carried out by the target audience, through the prism of social media. Equally, the I WILL WHAT I WANT videos redefined audience participation. In the video featuring Gisele Bündchen, Facebook user comments were at the heart of the experience: After seeding a teaser film on the platform, we used people’s real online reactions on the platform in our TV ads just two days later. A web experience then became a live interactive experiment.

A custom engine scraped the web for comments made about Gisele. Comments were rendered instantly and displayed on the site. For the first time, the entire online discussion about a single person was happening on one website in real time. Gisele is seen sticking to her routine while contradictory opinions on social media flash behind her, proving will beats noise live.

Collaborative creativity is a vital new force

Facebook cares more about creativity than any other platform. Our goal is to create value for companies and the people who receive it. The Creative Shop wants to be an essential partner to brands and agencies: it wants to help move the industry forward.

Facebook Creative Shop is a team of brand marketers, creative directors and strategists who build ideas to help clients grow their business. We believe that every person’s experience on Facebook should be personal and relevant. Even the ads they see. We work closely with businesses and the larger Facebook team to build tools, processes and creative that drives real world business results and delights people.

To help global businesses show beautiful visual stories in News Feed on every device and connection type, we started Facebook’s Creative Accelerator programme designed to help brands unlock the power of personal storytelling in high-growth countries. For example, in Kenya, Coca-Cola delivered a high impact campaign that had Kenyans sharing their stories of happiness. Nurofen, meanwhile, reached 54% of its target audience through a Moments That Matter Facebook campaign in South Africa.

Facebook recently opened our first African office in Johannesburg, South Africa. This is an important first step in strengthening our partnerships on the continent. People in the creative community are working to “hack” Facebook and Instagram in exciting new ways, to develop new marketing executions. We want to continue to work with the creative community to hack creative on our platforms, and our new office brings us closer to the creative community in Africa.

This expansion has happened because we want to ensure we are able to effectively support the huge range of new advertising formats and communication tools now open to communicators. These include new advertising formats and new connection tools that allow for improved contact with audiences (Book Now buttons are just one such new feature), along with advanced measurement tools like Conversion Lift and Ad tech.

We believe we can work together to create rich creative expressions on Facebook and Instagram that are not just better for marketers but better for people too.

The Creative Shop wants to be an indispensable partner to brands and agencies. We know the future does not build itself. Together with our partners we can build for where people are going.

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IoT at starting gate

South Africa is already past the Internet of Things (IoT) hype cycle and well into the mainstream, writes MARK WALKER, associate vice president of Sub-Saharan Africa at International Data Corporation (IDC).

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Projects and pilots are already becoming a commercial reality, tying neatly into the 2017 IDC prediction that 2018 would be the year when the local market took IoT mainstream. Over the next 12-18 months, it is anticipated that IoT implementations will continue to rise in both scope and popularity. Already 23% are in full deployment with 39% in the pilot phase. The value of IoT has been systematically proven and yet its reputation remains tenuous – more than 5% of companies are reluctant to put their money where the trend is – thanks to the shifting sands of IoT perception and success rate.

There are several reasons behind why IoT implementations are failing. The biggest is that organisations don’t know where to start. They know that IoT is something they can harness today and that it can be used to shift outdated modalities and operations. They are aware of the benefits and the case studies. What they don’t know is how to apply this knowledge to their own journey so their IoT story isn’t one of overbearing complexity and rising costs.

Another stumbling block is perception. Yes, there is the futuristic potential with the talking fridge and intelligent desk, but this is not where the real value lies. Organisations are overlooking the challenges that can be solved by realistic IoT, the banal and the boring solutions that leverage systems to deliver on business priorities. IoT’s potential sits within its ability to get the best out of assets and production efficiencies, solving problems in automation, security, and environment.

In addition to this, there is a lack of clarity around return on investment, uncertainty around the benefits, a lack of executive leadership, and concerns around security and the complexities of regulation.  Because IoT is an emerging technology there remains a limited awareness of the true extent of its value proposition and yet 66% of organisations are confident that this value exists.

This percentage poses both a problem and opportunity. On one hand, it showcases the local shift in thinking towards IoT as a technology worth investing into. On the other hand, many companies are seeing the competition invest and leaping blindly in the wrong direction. Stop. IoT is not the same for every business.

It is essential that every company makes its own case for IoT based on its needs and outcomes. Does agriculture have the same challenges as mining? Does one mining company have the same challenges as another? The answer is no. Organisations that want their IoT investment to succeed must reject the idea that they can pick up where another has left off. IoT must be relevant to the business outcome that it needs to achieve. While some use cases may apply to most industries based on specific circumstances, there are different realities and priorities that will demand a different approach and starting point.

Ask – what is the business problem right now and how can technology be leveraged to resolve it?

In the agriculture space, there is a need to improve crop yields and livestock management, improve farm productivity and implement environmental monitoring. In the construction and mining industry, safety and emergency response are a priority alongside workforce and production management. Education shifts the lens towards improving delivery and quality of education, access to advanced learning methods and reducing the costs of learning.  Smart cities want to improve traffic and efficiently deliver public services and healthcare is focusing on wellness, reducing hospital admissions and the security of assets and inventory management.

The technology and solutions selected must speak to these specific challenges.

If there are no insights used to create an IoT solution, it’s the equivalent of having the fastest Ferrari on Rivonia Road in peak traffic. It makes a fantastic noise, but it isn’t going to move any faster than the broken-down sedan in the next lane. Everyone will be impressed with the Ferrari, but the amount of power and the size of the investment mean nothing. It’s in the wrong place.

What differentiates the IoT successes is how a company leverages data to deliver meaningful value-added predictions and actions for personalised efficiencies, convenience, and improved industry processes. To move forward the organisation needs to focus on the business outcomes and not just the technology. They need to localise and adapt by applying context to the problem that’s being solved and explore innovation through partnerships and experimentation.

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ERP underpins food tracking

The food traceability market is expected to reach almost $20 billion by 2022 as increased consumer awareness, strict governance requirements, and advances in technology are resulting in growing standardisation of the segment, says STUART SCANLON, managing director of epic ERP

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Just like any data-driven environment, one of the biggest enablers of this is integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

As the name suggests, traceability is the ability to track something through all stages of production, processing, and distribution. When it comes to the food industry, traceability must also enable stakeholders to identify the source of all food inputs that can include anything from raw materials, additives, ingredients, and packaging.

Considering the wealth of data that all these facets generate, it is hardly surprising that systems and processes need to be put in place to manage, analyse, and provide actionable insights. With traceability enabling corrective measures to be taken (think product recalls), having an efficient system is often the difference between life or death when it comes to public health risks.

Expansive solutions

Sceptics argue that traceability simply requires an extensive data warehouse to be done correctly, the reality is quite different. Yes, there are standard data records to be managed, but the real value lies in how all these components are tied together.

ERP provides the digital glue to enable this. With each stakeholder audience requiring different aspects of traceability (and compliance), it is essential for the producer, distributor, and every other organisation in the supply chain, to manage this effectively in a standardised manner.

With so many different companies involved in the food cycle, many using their own, proprietary systems, just consider the complexity of trying to manage traceability. Organisations must not only contend with local challenges, but global ones as well as the import and export of food are big business drivers.

So, even though traceability is vital to keep track of everything in this complex cycle, it is also imperative to monitor the ingredients and factories where items are produced. Having expansive solutions that must track the entire process from ‘cradle to grave’ is an imperative. Not only is this vital from a safety perspective, but from cost and reputational management aspects as well. Just think of the recent listeriosis issue in South Africa and the impact it has had on all parties in that supply chain.

Efficiency improvements

Thanks to the increasing digital transformation efforts by companies in the food industry, traceability becomes a more effective process. It is no longer a case of using on-premise solutions that can be compromised but having hosted ones that provide more effective fail-safes.

In a market segment that requires strict compliance and regulatory requirements to be met, cloud-based solutions can provide everyone in the supply chain with a more secure (and tamper-resistant) solution than many of the legacy approaches of old.

This is not to say ERP requires the one or the other. Instead, there needs to be a transition provided between the two scenarios that empowers those in the food supply chain to maximise the insights (and benefits) derived from traceability.

Now, more than ever, traceability is a business priority. Having the correct foundation through effective ERP is essential if a business can manage its growth and meet legislative requirements into the future.

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