Blog Post - Naji El-Arifi, Jun 20 2017

One way to be a better digital problem solver

One way to be a better digital problem solver

SLAM, the Salmon Innovation team, went on an expedition to Israel last month. The visit centered on Tel Aviv, which is often viewed as the start-up capital of the world.

Salmon, a Wunderman Commerce Company, believes in reaching out to start-ups to enrich knowledge. It’s easy to become overly focused on existing and local thinking, and not to look further afield at what is available, and lies ahead, in tech. As part of WPP, SLAM gets fantastic access to some great talent across the world, enabling an exciting peek at the future.

What we want

We all want to be that person that comes up with the killer solution that solves a massive problem or paves the way to a stellar opportunity. Now, though, it’s often not just enough to crack the challenge - a lot of us want the solution to be fresh, innovative and original, and to be the first person to solve it this way.

And increasingly we’re having to come up with solutions that use techniques or technologies that are not a core competency. My favourite example has to be Nike+. Nike had the knowledge but had not built software like it for consumers. Now they have created one of the most successful health applications in the market and, I suggest, can be revered as a digital-first brand. That’s an amazing transformation from selling shoes in other people's stores to a brand that can help you lead a healthier life.

The question is how do you come up with these breakthrough solutions? An ongoing dialogue with the rest of the world sure helps.

Most of us can’t reach outside of our own understanding to come up with an idea – we’re limited to our own knowledge and experience. It's always based on our current understanding of the world as we see it. In order to broaden our minds, we need to broaden our horizons.

As Salmon’s Innovation team, team SLAM needs to consistently create new ideas, which sees us conducting a series of tasks. One of these is quite a simple process which centres on the phrase “You don’t know what you don’t know”. And the answer we’re seeking is “How do we find all those things you might not know?” You could commit to research and discover things online, and sure, that’s an important part. But if, like Salmon, you’re set on shaping future commerce, a deeper perspective – and the associated expertise – is called for. Cue start-ups…

Go Far. Go Wide. Go to Start-ups.

To help your business truly accelerate, it pays to meet start-ups, in particular those building hardware and software that you hadn't even thought of.

Meeting people and forging new relationships helps us start to understand what is possible, with every company we talk to becoming an arrow in our quiver we can call upon at anytime to help us execute ideas. This is perhaps the most important aspect of interacting with start-ups: you are meeting people who are actually developing the tech, which means you don't have to build anything completely from scratch. And you get to bypass the prohibitive expense of doing so.

Last month, for instance, team SLAM met a variety of companies in Tel Aviv with a wide range of expertise, that we can learn from or access, including:

  • Smart fashion
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Internet of Things
  • Fintech
  • Security
  • Marketing
  • Tech giants (e.g. Microsoft and Intel)
  • Accelerators
  • Venture capitalists

Get out there!

You can't build every solution yourself. We don’t suggest you try to. That’s why it’s worth looking for opportunities to go and visit overseas start-ups for yourself.

Start connecting and collaborating with start-ups you click with, that can truly add to your business, and the rest will follow. Salmon and many of our clients -- most notably DFS -- swear by this strategy.

Even if you never end up working with the people you meet, you’ll learn so much that you can bring back to your business to inspire new ways to get an edge on your competitors.

To find out more get in touch with our Head of Innovation, Naji El-Arifi. Naji is a key member of SLAM, the Salmon Innovation team.

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