Theresa May’s proposals for a modern industrial strategy is ‘major step forward’

The Prime Minister’s commitment to the creative industries has been hailed as a “major step forward” but the industry has to ensure it is clear with policymakers to get the investment and support it needs.

Number Ten

Theresa May’s proposals for a modern industrial strategy, which aims to secure a future for Britain as a competitive global nation, was welcomed by the creative industries that will benefit from a collaboration with technology.

In her speech, the Prime Minster listed the creative sector as one of the five industries that could benefit from new ‘sector deals’ and investment in research and development – as part of a bid to “support the industries of the future where Britain has the potential to lead the world”.

The deals will offer support not only in addressing regulatory barriers to innovation and growth but also in the creation of new institutions to provide leadership, support innovation or boost skills.

The industrial strategy will also see the government invest in cutting-edge technology through the new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, offering support for smart energy technologies, robotics and artificial intelligence and 5G mobile network technologies.

The Creative Industries Federation said the announcement is a “major step forward for a sector [that] has never been formally recognised in an industrial strategy before”.

But added that “innovation is not the sole preserve of science and tech and many new businesses are being established by science and technology coming together with the creative industries” and “investment in both digital and physical infrastructure must consider and reflect the needs of the creative sector”.

There’s an early-mover advantage to experimenting and launching innovative services while others wait and see.

Daryn Mason, Oracle

Ian Barber, communications director at the Advertising Association agrees and says the “support for the creative industries is reassuring – but advertising plays a unique role, fostering competition and innovation across every sector”. He says the “onus is on ourselves to be clear with policymakers as to the value we deliver and the support we need”.

Technology driven incentive

The creative industry has been given a boost in being recognised but it’s being driven by technology, which will see a “richer ecosystem”, according to Cameron Worth, founder of Internet of Things agency SharpEnd.

Worth believes it will result in a need for specialists “who can make sense of the technologies to activate” and would “love to see other specialist agencies coming to the field with other focuses”.

He says: “The investment could help develop the creative industries, the same way the creative industry had to invest in digital, the social and now mobile experience.”

The adoption of technology by brands for consumers needs to take a considered approach, according to Daryn Mason, senior director of customer experience applications at Oracle. This is despite Oracle’s research showing that, of 800 senior marketing and sales professionals across EMEA, 78% of brands expect to provide customer experiences through virtual reality in the next four years and 80% expect to serve customers through chatbots.

Mason says: “Brands will always look to experiment with new technologies. There’s an early-mover advantage to experimenting and launching innovative services while others wait and see, but they need to walk before they can run.”

READ MORE: Marketers must ‘work hard to get priorities heard’ in Brexit deal

Investment in necessary post-Brexit

Investing in innovating British industry is not only good news for businesses but necessary to be able to compete on a global platform, even though the effect and details of Britain’s exit from the European Union may not yet be clear.

“Taking advantage of smart manufacturing and the industrial Internet of Things will fuel the progress of UK industry and ensure that we can compete on a global platform,” says Martin Walder, vice-president of industry at energy management specialist, Schneider Electric.

He adds: “It’s essential that British Industry is given every opportunity to be at the leading edge of global industrial innovation through fresh investment, in order to combat the risk of stagnation.”

However, Walder believes that in order for that to happen the Government “will need to drive capital investment in new manufacturing plant technology and equipment, such as robotics, automation and artificial intelligence” – and that “research and innovation in these areas will have a direct impact on how new technology is rolled out”.

Taking advantage of smart manufacturing and the industrial Internet of Things will fuel the progress of UK industry.

Martin Walder, Schneider Electric

Recognising the creative sector as an industry is a necessity post-Brexit, according to Alasdair Lennox, executive creative director at WPP-owned brand consultancy FITCH. He says enforcing a new industrial strategy will be essential to keeping momentum and innovation in the creative sector.

READ MORE: Advertising ‘key to UK’s post-Brexit success’, says culture secretary

Lennox says: “Our industry has always been famed for cherishing diversity and has long valued EU funding, joint initiatives and exchange programmes all of which contribute to the island’s creative and design industry – that’s worth a staggering £71.7bn in goods and services to the economy.”

He adds: “Enforcing a new industrial strategy will be essential to keeping momentum and innovation in the creative sector.”

Creating a need for digital skills

“Those best able to navigate the digital shift will put people at the centre of their approach,” says James Elias, former Google marketer turned chief marketing officer at education startup AVADO. “This doesn’t just mean relying on new starters or specific departments to plug the digital gaps, but making sure all staff are upskilled.”

He says the marketing industry has always been “at the forefront of digital adoption” but is at risk of being left behind “unless there is continued investment in the skills of today and tomorrow”.

However, Elias adds that it’s “not just about spending more money on training” but ensuring investment “is effective and is focused on creating the most necessary skills”.

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Comments
  • James Souttar 29 Jan 2017 at 1:13 pm

    It’s just unfortunate, then, that the EU Referendum vote Ratnerised Brand UK. Inescapably, and no doubt forever more, we’ve repositioned ourselves in the world’s eyes with an unforgettable new proposition: “Britain hates foreigners!” Indeed, we Britons seem to hate foreigners so much that we would even ‘bet the farm’ on it (as our similarly self-destructive Anglophone cousins say) – we’re willing to risk our jobs, economy, wellbeing, even the sick old NHS we affect to love so much – in order not to have them here. But, on the positive side, ‘we’re open for business to the world’ (as long as we go to it, and it doesn’t even think about coming here). And there is also that brash new vision of becoming a global beacon of Free Trade, even if this is looking more and more like a toxic mash-up of unregulated casino capitalism, arms dealing and precarious employment. (How do you visualise Antigua meets Chavistan, with a dash of Richard Roper entrepreneurism?)

    Having spent the last three decades of my life helping to build brands (including some pretty tarnished specimens) I have to admit defeat here. ‘Brand UK’ really is now a no-hoper, taking on water like the poor old Titanic. We didn’t just shoot ourselves in the foot last June. We blew our fucking brains out.

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