For innovation to really have an impact on both the brand and society at large, it needs to be the product of diverse minds, according to HP global chief marketing and communications officer, Antonio Lucio.
“I believe innovation is not possible unless you have diverse teams who reflect the communities that you serve, it’s as simple as that and it’s as much a values issue as it is a business imperative,” Lucio explains.
“In a business like ours that thrives on innovation, you have the CEO to the board of directors to all of the operating units squarely focused on ensuring we improve not only our numbers [in terms of diversity], but also the numbers of all the people that work in our ecosystem.”
HP has a well-established commitment to improving diversity across both its agencies and in-house teams. In 2016, the tech giant insisted its main agencies start appointing more women and people of colour to positions of influence on its account. Since then HP reports that 61% of the people working on its account worldwide are now women, a 20% improvement, with more work in place to improve the representation of minorities in 2018.
Lucio’s core belief is that if companies want to create brands which stand the test of time they need to constantly “reinvent” themselves, which is why innovation is central to the role marketing plays in any organisation.
He does, however, acknowledge that marketing’s relationship to innovation differs depending on the type of organisation, meaning that while in FMCG businesses the fundamental premise is that the customer is king, the approach differs in technology companies.
Innovation is not one more thing that marketers need to do, innovation is the way that a marketer needs to think and behave.
Antonio Lucio, HP
“We are in the invention business. Our teams are inventing things that consumers have never dreamed about. Therefore, the role of marketing becomes a little different,” he explains.
“[Marketing must question] is there really a need for this invention? And if there is, what is the best way to actually bring that invention to life from a design, offering, pricing and consumer experience standpoint? Whether you are at the centre, in the case of consumer goods when you’re optimising customer needs, or whether you’re on the technology side, creating needs that have never been invented before, the role of marketing is critical.”
The invention environment
The way marketing interacts with innovation at HP is determined by the company’s three-pronged approach to invention. There is the core business, which requires “sprinkles of innovation magic”; the growth business, such as HP’s graphic printing arm, which is intended to drive demand over the next three to five years; and the future business, including the 3D commercial printing operation, which is aimed at creating revenue for the next five to 10 years.
In the core business everyone is expected to deliver innovation whether they are working on product, sales or marketing, whereas HP felt it was best to separate out its future-growth unit for special nurturing.
Lucio explains that the future business will need space to roam, the reason why it made sense to hive it off into a separate business unit under the leadership of one of HP’s most senior leaders, reporting directly to the CEO. The head of marketing within the future growth group reports directly into Lucio.
Wherever innovation sits, HP’s CMO firmly believes driving innovation is part of marketing’s responsibility: “The only way to maintain relevance is to transcend the noise and clutter and the only way you’re to do that is through innovation and building strong, emotional connections,” he adds.
“Innovation is not one more thing that marketers need to do, innovation is the way that a marketer needs to think and behave.”