Spark a culture of creativity—with technology

Workfront, SSE, and Optima leaders talk about how technology sparks creativity

I had the great pleasure of hosting a panel discussion at the Festival of Marketing: “Creating the spark to deliver world class customer experiences by optimising the creative process.” The discussion was about how to build a culture of creativity and efficiency using technology. I was honoured to be joined by Richard Farquhar, Head of Marketing Transformation at energy behemoth SSE (now part of OVO), and Alasdair Crawley, Business Transformation Director at Optima Partners.

We talked about how to propagate the spark that allows creative teams to create personalised customer experiences ripe for the consumer of today. Our conversation centred around how work management technology, people-first change management practices, and the right structure during these uncertain times enabled SSE to go from a semi-chaotic state to one where its creative teams can thrive.

Prioritise technology—and the people using it—to champion the creative process.

Whatever the industry, managing complex marketing projects using a mixture of legacy tools can lead to missed deadlines, ineffective prioritisation, low collaboration, and poor results. Disparate tools that have accumulated over time often result in an incoherent strategy, a lack of buy-in from teams, and a stilted speed to market.

Through the right technology and processes, companies can fundamentally change the way they work. But, as the panel discussion highlighted, managing the human element is often the most crucial part of the process. There’s no point implementing new technology and processes if no one uses them. The most important aspects of driving successful technology adoption are aligning it to a solid commercial case from the off, auditing the process throughout implementation, and creating a powerful ‘coalition to change’ to encourage buy-in across the organisation.

Like many others, SSE’s marketing was often siloed. The teams had grown apart and were working independently. They were also managing projects using their own tools—ones that were largely offline. Richard estimated that approximately 70% of the team’s time was being spent either on admin or in meaningless meetings. He, understandably, felt that creative talent couldn't focus on the job they were hired to do and that the work they did manage, often went under the radar of colleagues.

SSE wanted to empower the team to deliver high-value creative work that delivered measurable results more in-line with the business goals. Since turning to Workfront, SSE managed to streamline its whole creative operations. The team has been re-fuelled and feels more engaged than ever before. So much so that there has been a 40-50% improvement utilising creative throughput, and effectiveness. The team went from feeling frustrated to feeling valued. Now they are back on the map internally, building empathy and credibility throughout the entire organisation.

Enable what marketers value most: creativity.

It is transformational to a business to have creative people focused on creative work and not being burdened by disruptive tasks. We know this from our 2020 Global Marketing research, which asked almost 900 marketers in five countries to rank the skills that are most important to their jobs. “The ability to think and act creatively” was the number one answer across the board.

Unshackling that talent leads to greater creative excellence which, in turn, leads to a better customer experience.

Already, SSE has seen an increase of more than 50% in speed to market, real-time progress reporting, improved visibility of processes, and dramatic performance improvements.

As brands across the world continue to weather the effects of a global pandemic, the ability to think creatively is essential to execute marketing campaigns that stand out. Work management technology enables marketing teams to launch multi-faceted campaigns, programs, and creative assets; anticipate constantly changing demands; and understand how everyone's work contributes to the bigger picture.

The creativity roadblocks raised during the panel discussion are not uncommon. Many businesses today struggle to deliver high-value creative work that delivers measurable results due to a disconnected technology stack. Companies like SSE—organisations with a work management platform that integrates disparate tools, centralises visibility into work across people and teams, and frees up time for high-value, creative work—have been able to quickly pivot their operations during the current pandemic.

Now more than ever, marketing leaders need to empower their creative teams to deliver by ensuring they have the right technology in place to anticipate, adapt, and prioritise campaigns that deliver results using the skill they value most: creativity.

Please listen to the webinar in full to learn more about how SSE transformed its marketing and communications operations to deliver world class customer experience.