Take a bet on untapped talent for digital innovation

Great ideas don’t always come from wizened executives with CVs the length of War and Peace; they are often bred from untapped talent that isn’t blinkered by KPIs or performance bonuses. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see a colossal brand like Kraft working with indie start-ups to help curate its digital activity.

Lara O'Reilly

Kraft is hosting a series of developer gatherings this year to crowdsource ideas for its digital marketing projects, such as Joyville.

Sonia Carter, Kraft Foods Europe’s head of digital, said the company will continue to roll out programmes like this until its “culture is changed”. By this she means, Kraft will continue working with start ups and developers until its own employees truly get a handle on innovation in the world outside Cadbury’s chocolate factory.

Kraft isn’t alone in choosing to work alongside start-ups to inspire its staff. O2 parent group Telefonica named 16 start-ups earlier this month to join its incubator scheme Wayra and organisations as diverse as the AOP, Mozilla Tesco and the Financial Times have all hosted hack days in recent months.

That’s not to mention the countless numbers of major brands inside and out of the technology space who have acquired start-ups in deals worth up to $1bn in a bid to fill in the gaps of their digital strategies.

Of course, acquisitions are vastly different to collaborations. Working alongside start-ups allows those developers to share ideas while maintaining a comfortable work pattern and ethos that isn’t jaded and restricted by the corporate culture.

An entrepreneur often has a very different personality to a marketing director that has tirelessly worked their way up the ranks to gain their position. An entrepreneur is usually unlikely to want to play by someone else’s rules, which is why collaboration – over acquisition – can be an extremely valuable way of unleashed their flair, in a way that a job ad simply wouldn’t allow.

Marketing collaboration should also occur within the organisation if it wants to drive innovation, even with divisions that don’t have marketing at the heart. This week’s CMO Strategy explored how chief marketing officers are forming dynamic collaborations with their IT and data counterparts.

Keith Weed, Unilever’s CMO says he can’t really see how any business hoping to be successful these days can do it without IT at its side – which is why marketing departments shouldn’t be afraid of speaking to the backroom kids in their hoodies busily coding, programming and innovating. Imagine nobody had paid attention to Zuckerberg.

A marketing or digital director’s biggest fear should be being behind the curve and being too late to spot the next big thing their customers will be falling in love with.

Collaboration with those both inside and out of your organisation, despite any apparent lacks of marketing experience in their LinkedIn profiles (and a secure password this week it seems!) is a key way to unlock innovation.

Learn more about how online and mobile developments can help your brand gain a competitive edge at Marketing Week Live. The event is being held on June 27 and 28 at London Olympia and is free to all registrants. Find out more here.

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