Sam Noble
May 7, 2015

Our future depends on our ability to ‘collide to thrive’

Collisions are usually something to be avoided, but may be a necessary part of surviving in business for both clients and the agencies that support them. Sam Noble of Iris kicks off the discussion.

Sam Noble
Sam Noble

It’s a thought provoking and sobering fact that 70 per cent of The Fortune 1000 companies from 10 years ago no longer exist.

This is proof (if proof were needed) that markets, business models and companies today (not to mention the societies, infrastructures and cultures that they operate within) are being disrupted at an incredible rate all over the world.

Fundamentally, this is because the ability to dream up, attract support for, make and deliver new and differentiated ones is becoming increasingly democratized in our modern, globally networked economy.

Marketers and agencies are learning to recalibrate their ambitions and their roles as a result of this new, radical reality, although with varying levels of success. The smart ones understand we have to put as much energy and effort into the business of transformation and innovation, as we do into the business of creativity and communication.

Broadly speaking this means evolving to help brands and businesses to make the leap beyond the traditional boundaries of the consumer / category relationship and find new ways of becoming a more vital, vibrant and valuable participant in their lifestyles.

Not an easy task, of course.  In order to make this shift we need to be much more energetic about exploring the ‘spaces in between’ our traditional disciplines, crafts and capabilities and the perspectives and talent of people and partners that are breaking new ground outside of our industry in many different fields in technology, culture and commerce. 

It’s in this interplay that our ability to ensure brands and businesses continue to thrive really lies – continually colliding with ideas and skills from a diverse melting pot of tech pioneers, entrepreneurs, social activists, cultural thought leaders and curators, experimental artists and scientists, emerging ‘Influentials’ in the new creator classes, and more of the ‘long tail’ of creative innovators.

This notion of ‘Collisions’ was a central theme at this year’s SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas.  To use the phrase of Paola Antonelli, one of the keynote speakers this year and Head Curator at MOMA in NYC, ‘the contamination of disciplines’ was embodied in many of the prominent speakers there and ran like an electric current through the tequila and taco fuelled week.

The cultural setting may be different, but similar dynamics are also playing out this week in TechAsia, which I’m enjoying exploring for the first time.

Collisions. A powerful approach, but not that straight forward when you’re unsure where to point your guns or how to get the process started.  Or indeed how to ensure they are efficiently and effectively applied against a brand’s specific objectives and marketing challenges.  They are challenging to operationalize - and pretending otherwise is potentially to play fast and loose with your budgets and even your companies and careers. Which is why it is an agencies role and purpose, to become a brilliant partner for their clients in this space. As a business partner for clients we need to be as much collaboration and collision software as ideas engine, if you like.

That’s why we’re hosting the first interactive ‘Collide To Thrive’ event tonight at iris in Singapore.  Brand experts from LEGO and Philips will be talking about their own innovation and collision agenda, local community Singapore Ideas Lab will be discussing the local innovation and start up scene – and we’ll be discussing some hot off the press inspiration from both SXSW and TechAsia. 

Fuelled by Heineken and Johnnie Walker (thanks guys) we’re hoping to make the first of many steps in encouraging agencies, marketers, hybrids, progressive thinkers and would-be creative innovators of all shapes and sizes to ‘Collide to Thrive’.

We’ve got to – our future as an industry depends on it. 

Sam Noble is co-founder and global chief strategy officer at Iris 


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