Taking tech with a pinch of salt

Harjot Singh and Deirdre McGlashan

Harjot Singh and Deirdre McGlashan

Think of technology as salt, Harjot Singh advised Lions delegates at yesterday’s WARC Future of Strategy seminar. For McCann Worldgroup’s European CSO, technology, like salt, is not something you want to chuck about indiscriminately. “You just want enough to improve the taste.”

Singh was running through his top six truths for strategists operating in today’s experience economy, the first of which is to recognise we have entered the “era of meaning”. “I think the future belongs to people with a point of view versus a point of difference,” he said. He also urged strategists to engage with multiple points of view, stop confusing innovation with creativity, be ready to blur boundaries and to start thinking about data as “a way to solve problems rather than a way to sell”.

“Data is the only other four-letter word that relies on context,” he added. “The only way to talk about data is to stop outsourcing common sense. We have more data than we have ideas. We have a lot of data about the fact that we have a lot of data. We have big data FOMO. Let’s just stop it.”

Deirdre McGlashan, global chief digital office of MediaCom, turned to Walt Disney for inspiration. Under a picture of him captioned ‘Creating experiences since 1901’, she said Disney had given generation after generation “places to play and explore as young children and old children”. He did this so brilliantly, she added, that the company and the belief system he created is still as current and relevant today as it was back in the 1920s.

McGlashan’s advice to strategists was to “make friends with everybody in the class, from that weird kid in the corner in the glasses to the cool kids who can play the games you can’t play”. That way, if you encounter problems, the chances are that somebody out there can find the solution. “It may not be you but one of the kids in the class that’s become your friend. That’s why it’s so important to have a broad range of talent, both inside and outside of your agency.”

Harriet Palmer