The link between saving the planet and and successful business transformation – recent articles

One of the topics I spent a lot of time looking into in 2019 was the common attributes of organisations who execute successful change programs. One factor that came through as being critical to the success of these programs was having buy-in from staff.

In parallel, the past few years have seen a growth in interest in measuring employee engagement within organisations. This has been great news for companies such as Qualtrics and local hero Culture Amp, who provide tools to measure and influence staff engagement and organisational culture. It’s also been interesting to witness the increased interest in purpose within many organisations. I’ve spent quite a few hours listening to executives talk about the importance of giving staff a sense that what they are doing is for more than just shareholder returns.

In this article for CMO, and again in this special report for The Australiian, I had the chance to talk to a number of business leaders about the importance of sustainability to their brand. But the discussions also uncovered another lesson that might be useful for many organisations – that of how having a strong purpose around sustainability can make a workforce more resillient to change. The idea is that people are more willing to accept and even embrace radical change when they can see that the outcome will be of significant benefit to their organisation in terms of its ability to meet its purpose.

Instilling a sense that ‘this is for the greater good’ is a critical element in succesful transformation programs. And that desire to push forward with chance can clearly be enhanced when the greater good is much greater than just being for the good of the organisation itself.

Does stereotypical marketing arise from a stereotypical industry? – CMO

Anyone who leaves their home on a regular basis might be aware of one of the unfortunate truths of the Australian marketing industry – that the faces we see in commercial advertising don’t really reflect the faces we might see on the train on our way to work.

There are many reasons why the people who are used to promote products look the way they do. Advertisers have only a brief window of time to capture a consumer’s attention, and are generally keen to ensure the strongest possible connection. Often that means falling back on sterotypes.

But what if those stereotypes were actually serving to limit a products exposure?

With team divesity now a critical issue in the markeing industry, in this article I took the opportunity to investigate one possible reason why stereotypes are so prevalent in Australian adverrtising – that the composition of the people creating and signing off on campaigns may be influencing the choice of faces that appear in those campaigns.

For the full article, follow this link to CMO Australia.

How virtual humans could transform the brand experience – CMO Australia

Marketers often talk about brands having a ‘personality’ – effectively a collection of traits and attributes which are specific and potentially unique to the brand. Now the technologies of artificial intelligence and computer animation technologies are coming together to enable that personality to be centralised into a virtual persona – complete with its own face and voice.

There is great potential that in the near future we will no longer look at websites or interact with contact centres, but interact instead with virtual humans as naturally as we might interact with real people. That virtual person will have a record of all of your interactions, and knowledge of all of the offers and services its organisation can provide. Furthermore, that virtual person might also be a specific instance for you – tuned to your age, ethnicity, or any other known attribute that might serve to make it more useful to you.

It is an idea that has been promised for some time, but in this article for I explore how the necessary components are now falling into place to make this idea a reality.

Tech to the future: Reselling next-gen technology – CRN

Tech companies spend millions of dollars inventing and developing new technologies, but it’s all for nought if no one buys it. Crossing that chasm often involves a creating professional sales team – which can be an expensive proposition. So why not hire someone else’s?

Hence the global technology reseller  modelwas born. But resellers have a tendency to prefer selling those products which are easy to shift, with a sizeable and eager market (and one that is also willing to pay a decent margin). Much easier to sell something that people already want, than to convince them to buy something they only recently learned exists.

But for those resellers willing to make the leap into selling new and untested technology, the spoils can be great. There is the chance to get in early and build a market position long before a tech is commoditised. And of course there is all the learning that can be gathered along the way, and used to create additional value propositions.

In this feature article for CRN I was able to delve into the thinking of a number of Australian resellers and services companies and find out why it is that some companies are willing to take the plunge into the unknown, and how they avoid losing their shirts in the process.


What data-driven thinking is doing to help LifeSpan save lives – CMO

I have spent a fair chunk of the last few years writing about how Big Data analytics can be used to influence consumer behaviour, such as by encouraging us to open electronic mail or buy things we didn’t know we needed. So it is nice everyone once in a while to write an article on how these same technologies can be used to perform a social good – such as savings lives.

Suicide is an increasing problem in Australian society, with rates on the rise. Rachel Green and her team at LifeSpan at the Black Dog Institute are determined to do something about that, and have been using data analytics techniques (and some help from SAS Institute) to create a program they believe will do something about it. Their goal is to reduce rates by 20%, using a combination of evidence-based programs applied in areas of highest need.

You can red more about LifeSpan and its work in this article for

Driven to distraction: The rise of the self-driving car experience – CMO

There is a very real danger when using a smartphone today that you might run someone over or crash into another vehicle. Just think about all the time we could be spending on our devices if we weren’t distracted by having to drive a car at the same time?

Let’s face it, a lot of Australians get more pleasure from their devices than they do from being stuck in traffic. So amongst the many arguments in favour of driverless vehicles, the emancipation of commute time could prove to be one of the most compelling.

But what will we do with all these regained minutes? And who will provide the services that we chose to consume?

Occaisionally my editor at lets me of the leash and I get to write stories that take a longer and and more obtuse view of the world of marketing, such as this one, where I looked into the long term implications of driverless vehicles and what they might mean from a service provision perspective. It threw up a number of interesting concepts, including whether many of us will actually chose to own vehicles in the future, and which companies will be most important to us – the car makers, the mobilty service providers, or those companies that create the services we consume whilst on the road.

The story itself is actually an output from a much larger ongoing study into the impact of automation on the workforce (particulary the impact on regional Australian economies that might stem from the advent of driverless trucks), and has become a key point in my presentations on the Law of Unintended Consequences.

How artificial intelligence is transforming marketing – CMO Australia

xl_31692394-artificial-intelligence-binary-resizedIs AI just the latest victim of the mar-tech hype cycle, or will it really have a lasting impact on how marketers operate?

The answer is probably both, but the long-term impact may be more profound than is immediately obvious. Right now the focus on AI is as a tool for marketers to achieve conversion by refining how and when they reach customers, and which which messages. In this respect AI is being used to extend and simplify work already taking place in customer personlisation. The hope is that AI will simplify these tasks and free marketers to get back to marketing and out of data science. But how much of a role will remain for all but the best marketers?

And what happens when consumers begin to get hold of true AI agents of their own, that are capable of scouring the market and seeing through the clever manipulations of marketers to gain the very best deals possible?

Will the future be one where AI-based marketers are marketing to AI-based consumer agents? And if so, exactly what role is left for people?

Read more about the future of AI in marketing in this feature article for CMO Australia, then make up your own mind – before an AI makes it up for you.

Why CMOs should be paying more attention to cybersecurity – CMO

Cyber SecurityThat cyber attacks can have a strong impact on brand value is indisputable, with the damage to the brand potentially outstripping the value of lost intellectual property or other damages. The extent of brand damage from a cyber attack can also be directly proportional to the quality of the brand’s response.

Data security is not just an issue for the IT or cyber security team. The damage from a cyber attack can affect the entire operation, and especially its brand reputation, and as such it is a topic that a broader set of executives are taking an interest in.

CMOs in particular are coming to realise that the era of data-driven marketing brings with it new responsibilities in terms of how their organisations manage and protect the customer data they are using. and that this data can be highly valuable to malicious actors.

So it is not surprising to hear that a growing cadre, led not surprisingly by marketers in the tech sector itself, are equipping themselves to better understand how their data is protected, and how best to limit the damage when an attack does take place.

You can read more about what they are doing and the links between cyber security and marketing in this article for


CMO – Why this marketing and creative chief switched from global brands to local startup

Photo by DAMIAN

Photo by DAMIAN

Startups are renowned for being able to build brands off a shoestring budget – a talent that at times has left established competitors scratching their heads about how they can rise to prominence with such small budgets.

Craig Davis is now learning those lessons first hand. The former chief creative officer of Publicis Mojo is now heading up marketing for a small but exciting Australian startup, the parcel delivery service Sendle.

He describes the experience so far as being like an MBA in the new ways of brand building. Given how successful many startups have been in stealing attention (and revenue) from big-spending established competitors, it may be an experience that more up-and-coming marketers might want to see featured on their resume.

You can read more about Craig and the lessons he is learning in this article for

CMO – Getting the lowdown on people-based marketing

people_1All marketing is about people – surely? As with all things related to digital marketing, the term ‘people-based marketing’ means much more than what it seems. While much of the marketing world works on probabilities – buying ads in a certain program at a certain time will ‘probably’ reach a certain audience, people-based marketing aims to be very specific – reaching actual (although usually ‘anonymised’) individuals whose attributes have been pre-determined through some form of opt-in system. To learn more, take a look at this article I wrote recently for