Just when we thought we were getting digital

Just been reading an interesting article about Creative Technologists by Crispin Porter & Bogusky which was food for thought.

Creative Technologists are beasts which already exist in many digital agencies, but often is the case that ‘traditional developers’ are still at the fore.

What do I mean by the traditional developer?  Basically someone who is passed a brief, and asked to build something, pretty much without asking questions. This is compared to a Creative Technologist who in the ideal world is involved in the project from the start to finish, pushing the boundaries, not hemmed in by their particular programming language and looking for opportunities to apply technology creatively for brands they work with to help them grow their brand. Which will win? As technology infuses our lives further and further it only makes sense that roles like the latter become increasingly significant in creative agencies and account planning.

But to truly make the shift I don’t think this will be easy, for all parties.  For ‘traditional developers’ it would be a steep learning curve and shift in skill set: understanding branding/brand communications and being able to apply technology to the brands, improving communication skills so they become more like account people in a way (technology sales people essentially), generally being less code driven and more creatively driven (therefore a wider tool box of technological knowledge that reaches well beyond what a programming language) – they also need to be infinitely curious and open to learning, to prove their true worth and stay ahead of the fast moving curve.

For account people and producers, it will be a challenge to open their eyes fully to the breadth of technology and understand how this can fit into projects and account planning.

For clients it will be to be brave and work in new unchartered territory.  Balancing any risk with the fact that this is often where the biggest wins can be found. And ultimately recognising how technology is going to become more integral to our lives as themes like the ‘internet of things’ start to breathe more life.  This being the idea that we will live in an intelligent world of objects, things and products all conversing with each other throughout a network – it’s no longer about the internet, it’s about a whole infrastructure of technology supporting our lives and interactions.  The new opportunities for brands will be there for the taking, if they can keep their eyes open to new types of opportunities, models and partnerships.

Naturally it will be developers who will make the easiest transition to this new mind set.  You can also see that masses of developers have natural leanings towards creativity.  However I think true Creative Technologists will be relatively rare in the current market place and not it’s not particularly anyone’s fault, it’s just because many developers are used to being delivered a brief and not being part of forming the brief so they aren’t in the habit of trying to inform the solution creatively and being an agnostic source of technology information.

I guess the key is starting to put developers even more at the heart of the creative solution (and not just lip service) – otherwise they won’t have the mandate to behave as such.  There will also be a job to be done in skilling up in the areas that aren’t part of their current tool box (less about code and more about the brand angle).

New creative team models will also play a role. I think creative teams could and should in future include: art director, technologist + ‘a/the’ brand expert (which depending on the agency set-up could already be the Art Director already), to provide a good balance of perspectives.  The old model of copy writers and art directors, seem less relevant, although not entirely irrelevant.

I think for any one who works in an agency, it’s going to be a whole new learning curve away from creative applications of digital and towards creative Technology, new business models and new concepts of the role of agencies for their accounts.

…just when everyone thought they were getting digital!


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