Change is a good thing.

Can anyone remember when Nokia was the only real handset of choice? The time (I think, the late 90’s) when they had huge market share? I seem to have Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” ringing in my ear and memories of customizing my Nokia 8210.

I am also pretty sure it was the time when Apple was starting to break through, after a decade of a lot of developments, including, like Nokia now, an alliance with Microsoft (with the addition of Internet Explorer browser to every copy of the MacOS). As a student in a creative field, I was only ever going to be a die-hard Apple fan.

Remember the funky iMac? Back then it was fastest selling PC in history (August 15th, 1998) http://www.theapplemuseum.com/index.php?id=57

So what’s happened to Nokia then? Enter the iPhone and Google, mix it up with a lot of business R&D complacency and a resistance to change. Who would have ever predicted it? A sort of Apple v Nokia reverse of fortune?

On the topic of Nokia, did anyone see the news about the allegedly leaked memo from Stephen Elop, (CEO of Nokia, and formerly of Microsoft). A roughly 1300-word memo, addressing the company’s employees, and in this, suggesting that the company is “standing on a burning platform”. I loved that analogy. So basically, they either need to jump off and risk drowning, or stay and burn. Burn, I say! I love my iPhone, way too much! :)

But seriously, what would you choose for a giant like Nokia? Well Elop knew what the outcome was, and he was clearly warming his subjects! But most importantly for me, this memo was about selling in change that they need to embrace a whole new way of thinking, and a reality that things have changed (and of course it’s time to pick their socks up!).

I’m all for change, and it’s something that drives the business I work in, without question. I work in a Customer Engagement Agency, (what the hell is that you say?) It’s an agency that creates content for magazines, websites, emails, and tablets like iPad. We create all the lovely stuff people actually like! Well OK, we might sprinkle a bit of product in there too.

For those who do work in agency world, whether it be advertising or digital agencies or through the line – new ideas are like bread and butter, and what we create every day. Creating ideas, new thinking, it may sound clichéd, but it keeps us in business. But from my experience, in our business, many marketers (across many sectors) and companies at large, really struggle with the concept of breaking old thinking – which was obviously the real issue with Nokia.

I don’t profess to be an expert on Nokia, or mobiles (but i have lots of friends, access to reports, and Google, to help me out!). I am however, a consumer, and a passionate marketeer, as well as a strong believer that knowledge, and a sense of priority for always embracing change should be an essential ingredient in any business.

On the topic of innovation, for our business it’s all about integration, working across whatever medium our clients customers are engaged with. We don’t put boundaries up. We are working on what I would only describe (and to use a lovely term I have just heard) as an “accelerated time line”. The world is speeding up, and it’s all about being prepared to keep up with its pace and continually rethinking things.

We are now getting more involved in creating content for brands on iPad too. What I don’t understand though, is that there seems to be so a lot of cynicism about the iPad. We’ve really embraced this shift in our industry, but not all of our competitors have. Some publishers think that the iPad magazine is just another gimmick, a sort of ‘bubble’ surely about to bust at some point. “it’s too early, “yadda, yadda”. I wholeheartedly disagree, and to me this thinking seems incredibly old-fashioned. Great brands invest in tomorrows technology, today. They get a march and they maintain it.

The iPad is a very clever little platform, and one that will provide a brand with a great deal of creative and commercial opportunities, particular having great potential within branded content. And I think we are only at the tip of the iceberg of what power this little device is going to hold in our worlds, (well for now). And the potential for content to be loaded up on this surely is going to be endless. Have you seen Virgin’s Project magazine yet?

I’ve also read several articles saying that Apple iPad sales is forecast to reach 34m units in 2011, (a quick Google will pick that up). What can we compare this too? And moreover, according to eMarketer, the electronics brand will make up 78 per cent of the global tablet market in 2011

As the iPad increases its infiltration into the average Jo’s home, and across several regions. I can’t help but feel excited about it how will transform marketing communications, and in particular branded content directed at us as consumers. Furthermore, how these conversations can be so much more efficient and engaging.

I also picked up a lovely little stat this week from the Retail Week conference from Accenture: 1/3 of China’s 420M population now shop online. So it’s not all about the UK right? What about the emerging markets tapping into our retail brands online?

Someone who does understand the potential of forward thinking is Carl McPhail, CEO, New Look. At his recent address at the UK Retail Week conference he said “invest in the future, be bold, get excited about e-commerce, and most importantly listen to your customers and engage with them”.

It’s now time to start jumping off the proverbial “burning platform”.

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