Before the digital era tapped in, there were a series of marketing tactics that were carried out in order to build products from scratch and market them as per the target audience. With the digital era knocking at the doors, multiple opportunities to target customers and market the product directly to them arose. Opportunities that helped companies that wanted to transform and wanted to be a part of digitization.
With the inception of the digital era, the way the products were built and marketed changed. The intent behind the product development became more user-centric and with the inception of technologies like AI and machine learning, the intent to provide more value became denser.
In this interview, we’ll be sharing our conversation with two brand marketing leaders who have seen the pre and post-digital transformation era. They are the dynamic duo, the joint managing directors at Future Platforms, Remy Brooks and Greet Jans. Remy is a joint managing director at Future Platforms and co-founder at What’s Next. He’s also a BIMA 100 judge. Greet aside from being the joint managing director is a founding member of Chief (an organization for women in leadership).
Therefore, let’s start this interview and get some insights from these marketing leaders…
Remy: I’ll go first. Well, I guess my background is kind of a mix of startups and agencies. I’ve been working in the digital industry when mobile was brand new, big data was brand new. These things were emerging and a lot of my career has gone in helping companies all over the world to understand what it could mean for their business.
I’ve trained them to get the best out of SEO. To think about social media as it was emerging. A couple of companies, I worked for got acquired which grew my career and made me move to the world of agencies and digital products. Since then I’ve been heavily involved in creating digital products and services be it web, apps, wearables, or TV with which customers love to engage. I’ve delivered results to businesses worldwide in a mix of agencies and now I am working as a joint managing director at Future Platforms.
Greet: My career path has been kind of similar, however, I have always been in a design role. I studied industrial design, and product design, however, initially I went to this design company where I moved into a digital role. All of this kick-started in Belgium. After that, I moved into an advertising agency which was quite quirky.
Before working for a smaller company that designed academic community products, we were setting up digital communities in an offline world. We got acquired by a company that was trying to make it all digital. I moved to London and worked at Publicis Groupe in various markets and roles before I joined Future Platforms.
I’ll start with the obvious one so it's going to be AI. The last 18 months have been mind-blowing. It’s my prediction that AI is going to be the next epoch of technology on the same level. For instance, the internet coming out was a massive change, web 2.0, social media, and even mobile were a massive leap. After all these things, I don’t think we’ve seen anything as impactful in the world digitally.
I believe AI is the next massive league. It is already being induced in most of the products and services for simple things such as AI recommending a photo or Google putting a collage of all your trips. Even the simple recommendations of words while typing on your smartphone that are driven by machine learning and AI is a leap.
People are already experiencing it every single day with millions and billions of interactions. However, last year, with the launch of ChatGPT and stable diffusion which is sort of driven by written prompts has been amazing. With stable diffusion, essentially you can create any image just by writing prompts. Also, you can throw almost any question to ChatGPT and it will give a response that feels almost human.
These leaps that have been made are going to continue for the next five years. I think computers and digital are going to become much more useful and much closer to answering really tricky questions for which you had to do a lot of hard work in the past.
It’s kind of like us typing in queries on Google and having to dig through six different links and then having to rework our query to find another link and end up with 38 tabs open on the machine and it starts slowing down while the fans turn on. I think AI is going to genuinely change that so suddenly you put in these queries and you are getting responses back that are filling those gaps.
I am happy for us as we keep using this language loosely and interchangeably. However, if you are looking for a definition of machine learning, it is a technique that has been successfully driving forward to better recommendations for computer vision, image recognition, large language models, etc. It is the technique that runs in the background and is driving those leaps.
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In our minds, we pictured robots that feel human and talk back to you while talking about AI. However, the definition that I agree with is AI is anything that feels like magic at the time. I think 100 years ago, printing out words into a book could have been defined as AI. I think 30-50 years ago, programs that were able to play chess successfully was AI. We get new leaps, and we call it AI. However, general AI is essentially a system that can understand any task and is able to adapt. So, you can literally throw anything at it and it will provide a solution, however, that is science fiction. I am really comfortable saying that anything that feels magical at the time is AI.
AI is the outcome that feels magical, machine learning is the technique to get magical things. Adding to it, big data is the input that is fed to the machine learning technique to create magical output. If you think about OpenAI who created ChatGPT, the language learning model has been trained on the entire internet.
I went through a lot of papers related to ChatGPT. Originally, there were a lot of PhDs who had been working for years and years in places like MIT. There was an original thought that humans need to be involved in tweaking algorithms through machine learning. It was to ensure that we get closer and closer to what’s understandable. To us, the output feels useful and we can understand it.
Well, it actually makes sense but a breakthrough happened when they discovered that you simply need to feed more data. Take the human involvement out and the better the model actually got. Trucking the entirety of the internet, it is the biggest library of human data that has ever existed and will possibly ever exist.
What we are seeing is that people are taking these models and tweaking them on much smaller levels. To give you a real example, stable diffusion is open source. People have tweaked it in a specialist way so there are a bunch of services. Now, we have Lensa AI, Avatar.AI, etc. They’ve taken massive models which will create any image you ask for and they’ve turned it into specialist models by using a much smaller dataset.
When buildings are built, architects use 3D CAD modeling so that they can upload the picture to property websites. We’ve got an empty shell but we want to put some sofas, mirrors, some art on the wall, some plants, etc. Now, there’s AI that can pick an empty shell and fill it in with a bunch of stuff that feels real. The work that took hours now can be crafted within minutes. We are moving into a world where a small kind of specialist data is helping us create products and services on top of those much smaller models.
Well, experience-wise, it has affected a lot of designers as they started to use a lot of tools that are not meant for design. For example, GitHub and other developer kind of tools.
We started plugging in and playing with InDesign, however, there hasn’t been an overfocus because of the technologies stated earlier for example image generation and machine learning. I think at this moment, we are repurposing things that are already out there and playing with what one can do with their design.
From the perspective of trends, things are going everywhere. If I’m honest, I was looking at the CES trends and those things are different than last year. Right now, everybody is experimenting and seeing what sticks and what doesn’t. Every year, there have been two or three trends in the design world such as the new magenta color. However, today the focus is more on sustainability, being kind to each other, and having empathy while doing great things. It may not sound sexy but it is probably showing the right balance while pushing the craft further.
Well, we are a big fan of personas but we use a lot of archetypes. We’re going more in the jobs. We tweak those things and they work for us. So, if you take the basis of something that already works, we want people to feel the emotion of that functional thing. I think that is one of the baritone's unique.
On the contrary, one could say that it’s harder to develop these personas because we’re all so different. I think in a way, it’s easier for example you don’t need everything to adapt while people think everything needs to adapt.
I remember even a few years ago, there were different component blocks and everything was changing but that’s not the answer to it. For example, if you visit Virgin Active (health clubs), there will be different people interested in different things. For instance, some may be interested in Yoga, some in normal gym exercises. Like, there are completely different profiles existing of what you like. Therefore, the components and structure are there but some of the content within it changes.
For example, if you recognize that I’m a female interested in Yoga so when a male fills in, the imagery would be completely different. Therefore, it is important to adapt while you can make little things, reiterate, and keep doing what you are doing.
In 2023, we have taken over as Detroit MDS. I think one of the things that we are excited about is the focus on craft. We are trying to make sure that the products and services, we work on feel a little bit special. For instance, if they are made to fit the brand and clients that we are working for, they should be properly bespoke.
I think, as we have had a conversation about trends and patterns, it doesn’t really matter that everyone feels in a homogeneous way. The difference between brands and experience has started to feel like it could have been from anyone. If everyone is using the same pattern, how do you start to feel different? So right now, we’re quite focused on the next year. How do we find the right moments?
However, in those moments, it really matters how we make those experiences genuinely differentiated to fit the brand and its personality. We are working to infuse the personality of the people that have created the brand. We are trying to take all of these things that feel unique. We’re fairly bespoke which is an interesting dynamic. For instance, last year the tools and processes we were using, we changed that all to kind of reflect the brand. We almost made ourselves irrelevant without losing the core of it.
I think our combo hopefully helps the people who work with us to deliver it both on the client side and the people. The over flexibility that we offer hopefully gives a bit of a counter and as you mentioned in the beginning joining teams to help give a little bit. Again, I think both of us play a role in the clear visuals of things considering, I am a woman and Remy represents the black community. I think we are in the sense where it’s comfortable for us to keep playing a key role.
Want to further connect with Remy Brooks and Greet Jans, check out their LinkedIn. To get notified of similar interviews, subscribe to MobileAppDaily. To read similar interviews in the future, click here.
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