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iMedia Industry Update: Creating the Future of Marketing Innovation

Posted by Kurt Indvik on July 30th, 2014 at 11:32 am

"Every organization is going to be affected by exponential technology...Do you want to play with it so you can make an opportunity with it, or do you want to be playing catch up and reacting to it?"

So muses Lina Yang, director and futurist for the Advanced Technology Lab of The Hershey Co. At iMedia, we whole-heartedly agree, and that's just one of the reasons we're excited to have Yang as one of the featured keynote speakers at the upcoming iMedia Breakthrough Summit, Oct. 26-28, in Atlanta.

The idea of marketing innovation -- of market disruption -- goes beyond embracing technological evolution. Your organization has to pursue breakthrough organizational structure; it has to budget for that pursuit of innovation. That's going to be the spectrum of thinking attendees will pursue during the iMedia Breakthrough Summit. And hey, who better than a company investigating 3-D printing of chocolate to be a part of that dialogue?

Companies today are bringing in or cultivating their own futurists like Yang, whose sole job is to help drive that pursuit of innovation. Hershey's own CEO calls his confectionary enterprise a "knowledge company" dedicated to understanding its customers as deeply as possible and delivering products that resonate with them now and in the future. Yang's office is located in the well-known Singularity University in Mountain View, Calif. The institution was founded by Pete Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil to serve a broad range of organizations (profit and non-profit). It provides a wealth of research resources and mind power for executives who, like Yang, are looking to be at the forefront of technological innovation in a way that empowers their organizations for the future.

While a Forrester poll in 2013 noted that only 11 percent of brand marketing companies were setting aside budget dollars for "marketing innovation," there is no doubt that trend is and probably already has grown past that mark. More and more startups are getting the attention of brands through brand hacks and other test investment. Atlanta-based Coca-Cola is well known for its 70-20-10 marketing budget rule: 70 percent of marketing budget is for "now"; 20 percent is for "new"; and 10 percent is for what's "next." The beverage giant will be represented on the iMedia Breakthrough Summit stage by Doug Bush, director of global social media platforms and strategy at Coca-Cola.

Over the last several years, the "lab" concept has been a great example of investment growth in innovation and the future -- not only by academic institutions (often funded with corporate dollars), but also by myriad marketing organizations and leading agencies. An excellent example is Westfield Labs, a division of the global Westfield shopping mall conglomerate. The lab, based in San Francisco, is headed by digital industry veteran Kevin McKenzie (formerly founder of JiWire and SVP of CNET Networks' shopping services). McKenzie will deliver the opening keynote at the iMedia Breakthrough Summit this year.

Launched in 2012, the lab has already made headlines with such innovations as its ground-breaking digital storefront, introduced last holiday shopping season at the Westfield San Francisco Centre and Garden State Plaza in New Jersey. Also for the San Francisco Centre, the lab just launched "Dine on Time," which enables shoppers and anyone living within several miles of the mall to order food -- online, by iPhone app, or via mobile device -- from a variety of its in-mall restaurants for pickup or delivery. This is the kind of technology that Westfield is employing to ensure its shopping centers remain vibrant and relevant in the era of ecommerce.

It's this kind of future thinking that melds the pursuit of innovation in marketing technology with deeper consumer insights. Is your company making the organizational and investment changes necessary to propel brands and careers -- yours in particular -- into the future?

We hope to see you at the iMedia Breakthrough Summit, where we'll be fueling this dialogue with both great content and lots of fantastic networking among the best and brightest minds in the business. Request your invitation today!

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