All posts by Fred Roberts

Plenty to be positive about at London Tech Week

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There’s always a buzz around London Tech Week, but that felt especially so this year – the year of Brexit – as London was announced as Europe’s leading tech hub, drawing significant investment in its tech businesses and producing the most tech ‘unicorns’ behind just the USA and China on the world stage.

That energy and excitement was apparent yesterday at Central Hall Westminster where many of the highest profile names in the UK tech scene gathered for Bloomberg’s Sooner Than You Think event. Liberty was privileged to attend the flagship technology series’ inaugural UK visit, and to spend the time to hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, and one of the first public appearances from Deliveroo CEO Will Shu following the company’s investment by Amazon.

As the name suggests, the focus of this event was to explore the technological transformations that we think are many years off, but which are actually being deployed at a rapid, and perhaps alarming, rate.

It was to be expected, given the high-profile nature of the politicians in attendance, that Brexit would dominate any conversation about the UK’s near future. However, the Chancellor struck a positive chord, saying “I don’t believe tech companies will fly to Europe,” in spite of the political uncertainty facing many UK business and investors right now.

Similarly, as 5G networks are being switched on across the world, the question of UK policy towards Huawei was inevitable. Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, acknowledged in his interview that in a “hugely interconnected telecoms world” the UK needs to consider what its European and Atlantic partners are doing, as it would be foolish to act unilaterally. Though, he did assure businesses that the UK is approaching the end of its much-anticipated telecoms review – which has not been without its controversy.

Moving away from the political, highlights included Natalie Massenet, founder of designer fashion portal Net-a-Porter and a co-founder of Imaginary Ventures, speaking about how retail businesses can succeed in the ever-changing retail landscape. Massenet suggested that retailers need to use tech to be where the customer is, and that there is a strong demand for consumers to be able to “live” the brand, which does not spell the end of bricks and mortar stores.

Interestingly, Nigel Toom, CEO of Graphcore, the company behind the ‘Colossus’ chip for AI applications, argued for a change of tack towards how we talk about AI. Toom warned that the anthropomorphising of AI is dangerous and questioned whether the industry should adopt the term machine intelligence in place of artificial intelligence, as it’s a different kind of intelligence after all.

And in a rare public interview, Will Shu, CEO at Deliveroo, gave a hint that the delivery company may take advantage of Amazon’s drone delivery service in the not too distant future to ensure it can expand its offering to more parts of the UK.

Plenty of food for thought, then, at what was a fascinating and insightful two day conference – and much for UK tech businesses to be positive about!

What makes customers tick?

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How do you know who you are marketing to?

You’ve done the customer surveys, read the online profiles, and spent hours curating content for your audience to download all so that you can build a profile of the perfect customer.

So how are you breaking this information down? We’ll bet it’s by age, or perhaps by gender, maybe both. But why can’t a 46-year-old female be interested in why the Huawei P20 has a better camera than the iPhone X?

That’s a classic b2c example and most of us typically assume it’s easier to market to consumers than to other businesses. After all, isn’t it only men over 50 who make the buying decisions when an enterprise decides to replace its cloud infrastructure?

Clearly the answer is no, but what’s the point? The point is that too often businesses focus their marketing efforts on demographics and binary characteristics like gender rather than focusing on personas or what makes people tick.

At Liberty, we like to advise our clients to think differently and not abide by this traditional maxim. When planning our marketing efforts alongside clients, we want to know who their customers really are. This means knowing what fills their heads, what they care about and how that translates to their activity both online and offline.

With this information, we are seeing forward thinking clients blaze a trail away from traditional demographic and geographic segmentation marketing. Instead, the innovators are exploring the value of psychographic and behavioural segmentation, and how this impacts marketing strategy.

Many may be thinking of the controversies surrounding Cambridge Analytica when reading this. In reality, what we are talking about is much simpler than that. By using publicly available customer behavioural data, as well as surveys and a bit of good old-fashioned desk research, marketing and communications strategies can better link their output to the neurons that help customers make that buying decision.

This is not a new marketing theory. It’s been around for years, but there are still marketing teams in b2b and b2c organisations that still have not got the hang of it. We’re able to help. Get in touch for a chat or some advice.

Celebrating 20 years of technology – the company with a vision for the future

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As we continue to celebrate the last 20 years of technological innovation, I’ve chosen to give credit to video-sharing platform, YouTube.

As a member of the so-called ‘millennial’ generation, I was 13 when YouTube launched in 2005. At the time, it was difficult to predict just how ubiquitous the platform would become.

The most successful video in YouTube’s first year was an online tutorial for paint design titled ‘I/O Brush’. It’s a pretty dry video and amassed just 247,000 views that year. By contrast, as of January 2017 – the latest figures to be announced – the music video ‘Despacito’ had been seen almost three billion times.

YouTube’s growth in views year on year correlates perfectly with how video content has shaped our daily lives. The founders behind YouTube predicted the move towards video consumption, which left a lot of industries playing catch up – not least our beloved journalism sector.

13 years since the platform’s inception, however, it is common for users to associate YouTube with cute (or grumpy) cat videos or getting “Rickrolled”. It’s easy to forget that YouTube is a platform for all kinds of content. From video game walkthroughs to party political broadcasts, YouTube has a user base of over a billion users who benefit from the platform almost every day. That’s almost one-third of everyone on the Internet – so YouTube says.

It’s important to note that YouTube has its problems, too, most recently in battling the spread of terrorist videos. These problems must be addressed, but it’s also important to recognise the positive impact that online video content has had on society, and few companies have been as instrumental in that movement as YouTube. I look forward to seeing how the company adapts its technology the next 20 years!