More than a third of business and marketing executives are looking for arguments to operate a change in the way their company works, a spot poll of the 210 delegates at the 2010 OMD Predicts conference has shown. Another third admitted to seeking inspiration to perform better.
While many businesses have identified that technology is the most significant factor of change, the implications are so broad and far reaching that there is still a lot of uncertainty about the ways to capitalize on market trends.
This is precisely what OMD's OMD Predicts conference set out to ease back in 2007. The 2010 edition, titled "Breaking Free", illustrated the new ways to operate in the light of the current economic, consumer and media trends. The program, which featured Omnicom Media Group's Dimitri Metaxas, the Economist Intelligence Unit's Robert Powell, trend forecaster Jody Turner and Peter Kirwan, media editor of Wired UK, relied on international and regional data and analysis to help business leaders formulate effective responses.
"We're headed towards a future where brand advertising will be managed differently, mostly automated but also massively shaped by consumer reviews. Media consumption will be replaced by participation," explained Dimitri Metaxas, regional executive director-digital at Omnicom Media Group MENA. "What this means is that, eventually, media and agencies will be remunerated not on a promise of performance but on actual results." Data will become the most valuable asset, serving to align the interests of all stakeholders in the communication ecosystem.
What's more, a beta-mindset of continuous testing, learning and improvement will become essential for companies if they are to remain ahead of the curve, he added.
Looking beyond the obvious and testing uncharted waters was also the advice of Economist Intelligent Unit editor/economist Robert Powell. While providing good news, in that the economic recovery is underway, he explained how the highest growth potential will be in emerging markets, including in the region, putting Iraq at the top of his list. Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon and Bahrain are also promising markets, according to him. "Most countries here have taken positive steps to shake off the effects of the downturn but more must be done," Powell advised.
Having described and illustrated the most salient global consumer trends and how companies have embraced them, Jody Turner, a trend forecaster and founder of Culture of Future, shared the basics of innovation to walk the future. She also alerted the audience to the fact that, with growing affluence, consumers are moving away from an industrial culture fulfilling needs to an emotional one. "It is no longer about having to be someone, but it is about self-achievement and cross-sharing," Turner said. Once companies understand the true aspirations of consumers and build meaning into their products, they can resonate better with them.
Peter Kirwan, media editor of Wired's British edition, discussed how print and broadcast media companies in the West are operating the transition to digital platforms, the forces at play and the resulting media landscape in the next decades. "Among the biggest issues for media companies to deal with are the choice of platforms and the monetization of audiences," he said. "Analogue economics don't make sense for those away from the top and switching early to online could turn their success around."
"As an annual gathering, OMD Predicts allows us to take stock of the situation and emerging trends, the analysis of which informs our conversations with clients and industry stakeholders," commented Elie Khouri, CEO of Omnicom Media Group MENA. "What this edition has allowed us to demonstrate is that the answers could well lie in something radically different from the past. In that, it is a valuable event that focuses us on what is really at stake."
"The presentations shared by our speakers certainly illustrated the way our industry is changing," explained Shadi Kandil, managing director of OMD UAE. "These changes can be profound for both clients and agencies, leading to new forms of communication and remuneration principles. Change is less challenging when you are ready for it."
The third OMD Predicts conference was produced in association with Rotana Media Services, MediaquestCorp and The Economist Group.