Tuesday, 29 November 2011

IPA joins Next Gen Coalition

Delighted to report that the Government response to the Livingston-Hope Next Gen review sounds promising.

Here's what I said on behalf of IPA members at the Coalition launch, held at Google, yesterday, 28th November:

The 20,000 people and 250 companies in the IPA members give the Next Gen Coalition their whole hearted support.

We were late to the game… not involved until the report came out… but struck by its timeliness and relevance…

The digital revolution is transforming our businesses.

Interactive comms is now at the heart of everything we do. The visual effects industry inspires our creative output. Gamification informs our brand narratives. We are fast moving to a new era of real time trading, real time testing and monitoring of creative product/content.

Digital convergence bring gaming, interactive TV, video on demand, online search and mobile platforms ever closer; and we need a new generation of creative pioneers who can help us exploit multi-platform communication opportunities effectively and efficiently.

Creativity and technology are now more than ever intertwined.

Just three examples from one of our fastest growing member agencies, SapientNitro – enjoying double digit growth in both income, profits and people year on year.

How do you get people to watch more Sky TV programmes?
Create an App to record TV from your phone, so that they can take action at the point when they are having daytime conversations with friends about what to watch in the evening.

How do you sell more ice creams or cokes for the same square footage?
Create a vending machine that smiles.

How do you create a Ladbrokes ad that separates your brand from the competition?
Build a trading platform that allows every ad to pass on real time information about the trading odds.

The future of creativity is technology enabled. The agencies in our membership who get this are experiencing double digit growth. Those who don’t, aren’t. It’s as simple as that.

So where’s the downside?

The downside is that what keeps many of our agency CEOs awake at night is worrying about where they are going to find the right talent… there is too little…there is too little from the UK so we are having to search far and wide – to India, Eastern Europe and the UK…they cost too much.

What’s the problem?...

It’s cultural.

We’ve just come back from the US… we took 15 member agencies on an inspirational study tour of Silicon Valley…

In Silicon Valley respect for ‘engineers’ that have come from a computer science or software engineering background is palpable… it isn’t the same here.

At TedX a 12 year old app developer from the US, Thomas Suarez, gets prime billing and plaudits from US innovators and entrepreneurs… he’s teaching his teachers how to do it, and helping other kids in his school to become developers too… it isn’t the same here, but it should be.

Last week I spent a morning with Dr Leslie Carr, Director of Web Science at the Doctoral Training Centre at the Uni of Southampton, which boasts Tim Berners Lee as its Chair...

This is how he put it to me….

“To be a creative pioneer in computer science you need to imagine by the age of seven that computers are not only useful and exciting, but they can change peoples’ lives and individuals can have a part in their evolution and development, rather than simply being a recipient and creating just another powerpoint slide show."

What he'd like to see is a cadre of creative programmers…people who can invent software and systems and are aware of the business context in which they are operating.

Principally creative people who can develop new web businesses and new business models.

Whereas what he finds is: "The UK not only refuses to train people in that way but also when it provides them with jobs it all too often punishes them for being non-corporate.”

What a sad indictment.

If Government really believes in the UK creative economy and the UK digital economy, it needs to open its ears to the findings of the Next Gen report, put its money where its mouth is, and work with the Next Gen Coalition to make it happen.

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