Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The Road to Madfest: Leigh Gammons, EMEA CEO Wunderman Thompson Technology

Ahead of Mad//Fest London 2021, official media partner NDA is chatting to some of the brilliant line-up of speakers before they step on to the stage (for real) at the industry’s first big in-person event in the UK in over a year. Today we hear from Leigh Gammons, EMEA CEO Wunderman Thompson Technology.

The past year has definitely been an inflection point for digital transformation. As the world’s population moved to live their lives online as the pandemic took hold, businesses everywhere pivoted in extraordinary ways to better serve their consumers. One of the biggest outcomes of that was that the already content-hungry customer experience management machine went into overdrive. Now getting the right content, to the right audience, at the right time, at scale is one of the predominant marketing challenges.

Technology is rising to the challenge and, for me, one of the most impactful disruptions has been the introduction of the new breed of content and asset management solutions that we are seeing coming through.  Very broadly, they marry together the capabilities of traditional DAM and CMS and introduce the power of AI and machine learning to refine manual processes and accelerate the content supply chain.

It’s the positive impact of AI in this context that really excites me too. For instance, these solutions can  help brands to address inclusion and accessibility to genuinely drive change – going beyond base-level legal requirements and instead building inclusion into their digital DNA to serve a more diverse range of people and ultimately shape a fairer world. It’s this kind of purpose-led approach that really resonates with consumers and helps brands to better connect with the communities that they serve.

What has kept you smiling in your working life during the last year’s turbulence?

I think a lot of people would agree that having a good work-life balance has been key to staying positive. My wife and I had a baby last year, so I feel really fortunate to have been able to spend extra time with family during this time. We always start the day by walking our dog Baloo, and having breakfast together before getting started with the working day.

I’m a great advocate of taking some time away from the computer when its needed – whether it’s going for a run or catching up socially with a colleague, it’s really important for us all to look after our bodies and minds. It’s been great to see the team embracing flexible working and supporting each other through their different experiences.

What positive impacts on long-term consumer behavioural shifts will the pandemic have?

COVID has completely transformed the way we all live, work and consume things and it’s clear from some of our own research that expectations are higher than they’ve ever been. After a year online, consumers now accept that this is the default way to do business. Most of our existing clients are pretty far along the digital maturity curve already, so we’re really trying to focus on ways in which we can help them to deliver even better customer experiences using technology.

With so much progress made digitally in 2020, people have been able to engage with ideas, initiatives and opportunities around many of the world’s problems in ways that they haven’t been able to before. It’s encouraged businesses and brands to really take a hard look at the opportunities in front of them to create change for good, and embrace technologies that will help them become more relevant and valuable to their customers.

What technology, innovation or market development are you most excited about for the year ahead?

Looking at ways in which we can help businesses deliver even better customer experiences with AI and machine learning is the most exciting prospect for us, looking ahead. Our recent Building Better Experiences survey revealed that less than half of marketing decision-makers (41%) strongly agree that they have access to the right tools across the content supply chain and that 71% find their department to be a bottleneck when it comes to delivering an optimal experience. We’ve been focusing on an AI-powered solution that can support marketing, production and agency teams to intelligently manage their content and assets, with complete quality assurance.

As I touched upon earlier, brands need content to be liquid, consistent, compliant and inclusive, and given the proliferation of channels and increasing sophistication of segmentation and personalisation, they are often managing hundreds of thousands of assets at any one time.

Our tool can review images, video and text across several areas such as branding and legal compliance, channel-specific requirements, creative excellence, accessibility and inclusion, along with any other bespoke needs. It provides insights on a vast scale at speed, freeing team members to focus more on creative and strategic work – and that’s an incredibly valuable proposition for our clients.

Madfest, Opinion

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