Isobar’s Sandipan Roy explains Why Innovation Needs A New Agenda at AdAsia Bali
Last week, the advertising and marketing professionals gathered in Bali for the prestigious AdAsia 2017 conference. The bi-annual three-day event attracted over 1,000 delegates from across Asia, and featured an incredible speaker line-up including former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Kofi Annan.
This year’s conference theme was ‘Globalization Advancing New Possibilities’, with a specific focus on fresh innovation and creativity, representing the region’s increasing impact and contribution to the Global Economy.
Isobar Asia-Pacific’s Chief Strategy Officer and Dentsu Aegis Network’s representative in the steering committee of the World Economic Forum, Sandipan Roy, took to the AdAsia stage on the third and final day to present ‘Why Innovation Needs A New Agenda To Successfully Create New Agendas’.
Sandipan opened with a summary of the economic landscape today, citing that we are in an era of stagnation with productivity growth rate at only 1%, “Although the overall wealth pie is growing, median incomes are declining” he said. Sandipan told the audience that innovation should be playing a much larger role in productivity and the global economy today, “If global productivity is about maximising output with minimal input, then innovation has to be playing a big role in that”.
Focusing on where innovation has the most impact, Sandipan highlighted the reduction in retail prices for products like TVs, toys and clothes over the past 10 years. However, prices in core sectors of the economy like healthcare, education and energy have ballooned in the same time period. He told the audience, “It’s clear that innovation isn’t having the positive impact it ought to have on people’s lives. And this isn’t for the lack of opportunities as companies are sitting on massive piles of cash reserves and obsessed on increasing shareholder value."
According to a survey done by Harvard Business School, only 6% of top industry leaders are satisfied with their innovation agendas. In his session, Sandipan shared his insight into why some approaches to innovation are flawed, explaining that many innovation agendas are focussed on designing solutions first, which are searching for problems to solve, rather than identifying neglected problems and customer’s unmet needs first then designing solutions to solve these problems. “There are a lot of neglected problems and unmet customer needs out there which need to be addressed in new and different ways. And that has to be innovation’s biggest role”.
Turning his focus on how businesses and brands can maximise the potential of innovation, Sandipan shared with the audience the five key principles that form the basis of Isobar’s approach to transformation in Asia.
1. Make for meaning: Look for neglected problems to solve, and search for customer’s unmet needs.
2. Disrupt or perish: Disruption isn’t an event. It’s a process. Big legacy incumbents typically focus on making their products ‘better’ to serve their mainstream profitable customers, in the pursuit of increased profit margins. This compulsive focus on product and not the unmet customer need is a highly risky strategy as it leaves firms vulnerable to disruption. While, the core business has to continue ‘sustaining innovation’, they also need to incubate new and different ways to meet unmet needs and non-consumption, in other areas of the business.
3. Accelerate: Tech in itself is not a disruptor, unless it’s owned by a company, but it has a massive impact on the speed of disruption and transformation. Sectors, where tech has a greater degree of maturity, are getting disrupted at a faster pace than others. Therefore, look for tech accelerators that will increase the speed of transformation.
4. Build for scale: Ensuring that unmet needs and neglected problems are of a certain size, will result in solutions that impact millions. This will then have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line and productivity growth rates.
5. Integrate: While big companies are pursuing innovation in non-core areas of their business, they usually find it difficult to integrate the incubation and core zones of their business because of a big difference in culture, skills, metrics and capabilities in those two areas of the business. Companies need to be able to develop mechanisms and metrics to scale successes from their incubation zones and integrate these into the core parts of the business.
Closing the thirty-minute session, Sandipan discussed how Isobar’s global mission, ‘Transforming Businesses, Brand and People’s Lives Through The Creative Use of Digital’, encourages leaders to design new, different and creative ways to solve neglected problems and use technology as an accelerator to increase the speed of transformation.
Former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Kofi Annan, closed the AdAsia 2017 conference with an inspirational session, urging delegates to be empowered to make positive change with the work they create, with his presentation ‘Campaign For A Better World: The Courage For Positive Change’.
Find out more about the AdAsia Bali conference here.