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60 Second Interview: Will Smyth on innovation

60-Second-Interview_Will-Smyth OMD

What do you see as the major trends in digital / multichannel for the next 12 months?

Clearly TV viewing is going to be more socialised and I think there’ll be more programming created with a social / interactive idea at its core. How TVs will develop to have integrated social software will be interesting too, although the likelihood is that the interactivity will take place on a phone or tablet rather than via the actual TV.

I think we’ll see a lot more change and development in mobile too, especially in relation to high street shopping and obviously location services. 4G connectivity will be a massive factor in consumption of more mobile content, but it looks like this may not be until 2013.

What are the characteristics of great innovators?

Restlessness and an inability to be satisfied are characteristics of innovators. Crucially, they don’t just talk about stuff; they do it, and do it with belief and self-confidence. If they fail, they’re not put off and just keep going – James Dyson is a great example of a genuine innovator who had a lot of knock backs before he really broke through.

Is innovation in your organisation driven by a creative, ad-hoc desire to develop something new, or a consistently strategic need to develop and improve existing services and products?

We like trying new things and opportunities because we’re naturally curious people, but 9 out of 10 times there needs to be a good strategic or commercial benefit (for us and our clients) to go through with something – you have to be judicious about what you experiment with as there’s a lot of chaff to filter through.

Which ‘innovation’ from the past 30 years do you wish you’d come up with?

Graphene – it’s going to change everything!

How do you protect the innovation budget in times of austerity?

It’s really about making sure you have an investment in the future – if you come out of recessive times having put innovation and trial on hold, you’ll be behind your competitors that have continued to trial new things.

Are most clients happy to go along with innovative ideas, or do you have to work hard to persuade them to take chances?

Our clients trust us to make sound, strategic and commercially robust recommendations to them. So I don’t think it’s a question of ‘going along with innovative ideas’ but more of making a case for why trying something new is in the interests of their business. If you can show how doing something innovative will give them genuine competitive advantage then clients are usually embracing.

*as featured as part of Econsultancy’s 20 Days of Innovation

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