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BIMA & Microsoft Digital Leaders Roundtable – The Future Agency in the AI Era

29 Nov 2018

Posted by Anna Doyle

“Data gives us new ways of knowing and new things to know”.

The 22 November saw BIMA Strategic Partner, Microsoft return to Edinburgh for a deeper delve into the challenges of incorporating AI and data into the creative process. Around the breakfast table we had Agency Heads and Heads of Digital from: amazerealise; Dog, The Data Lab; Emperor; Equator; iProspect; Leith Agency; Lewis; Screenmedia; Yard; Wire.

Microsoft teamed up with BIMA members Screenmedia to bring practical insights into how to implement AI tools into the business, discuss some of the challenges and explain the upsides.

Phil Harvey, Cloud Solution Architect for Data & AI in One Commercial Partner, Microsoft opened the session with examples of ethical Ai and providing road maps to navigating the Ai landscape.

Phil walked us through the Ai maturity model:

Foundational - Questioning what AI is and how to apply it

Approaching - Hopeful on AI and its promise

Aspirational - Experimented and applied AI

Mature - Emerging Data science and operational capability

These steps equate into the following shift change within the organisation: cultural – ethical – ownership.

This raised lots of questions focussed on how you start the journey within your organisation and with your clients. The first steps can seem overwhelming and Phil distilled these into a journey planner which formed the structure of the majority of the debate. Many questions focussed on where to start? Inhouse or with client? How do you take your team / client with you on this journey? How do you sort your data? This is where the experiences shared by Screenmedia brought practical peer learning into the discussion.

Screenmedia explained they take a collaborative approach, keeping an ongoing discussion with clients and sharing knowledge when we have something to share to keep ideas evolving, and workshop ideas with clients to have them as part of the ideation process which is key. They are looking at the possibility of running hackathons in the future. Screenmedia have ring fenced time for some team members to focus purely on the investigative Ai product development. This resonated around the table as everyone acknowledged the need for clear head space to work on such projects although finding and resourcing that headspace is a challenge too.

The lively discussion around the table explored challenges and opportunities to integrate Ai into their organisations and for their clients, covering topics and angles including:

- Creatives are usually led by triggers, as such there is a need to educate Creatives as to what is possible through Ai and how it can work for them

- Demystifying Ai is one challenge and then demystifying what data can and can’t do is another

- You need to know when the model is stale. This is not just about Developers but everyone needs to be involved: Design; UX and New Business…..

- How do you sell it to the client when you don’t know what it is going to be?

- It was observed in the post Waterfall era it is easier to bring the Tech and Creative sides of the business together to work on these challenges and opportunities.

Unsurprisingly, the data challenge reverberated throughout the conversation. Where does the data sit? Why is it hard to find? How does Ai grow in creativity if the data naturally shrinks over time? How do you go back in to continually test the data accuracy?

Phil invoked a fundamental rule of UX to start addressing the data issue: if you want someone to do something in a certain way make it the easiest way to do it.

The discussion led to a light bulb moment of innovation for a new Ai product perfect for all digital agencies but mum’s the word on that for now….

We closed with a couple of points of consensus in the room:

- Next step is to find one thing to implement and start there

- What does Scottish Ai look like? Pure dead brilliant.

A very big thank you to everyone who took part in the breakfast session, openly sharing views, ideas and concerns. A special thank you to Screenmedia and to Microsoft for leading a lively and thoughtful breakfast session.

Watch out for more BIMA Digital Leader roundtable events and more from Ai across the community.

Anna Doyle
Posted by Anna Doyle

A member of the BIMA Team since 2012, Anna‘s time is focused on the day-to-day operations of BIMA, building BIMA communities across regions and disciplines and, best of all, spending time with BIMA members to learn more about their business challenges and aspirations. Based in Glasgow, Anna is also responsible for delivering member services and support for BIMA Scotland. Everyday offers a new insight. Previous experience includes 4 years in the BBC Arabic Service newsroom, heading up a pan-BBC World Service change management programme, and working in a diverse range of industries from financial derivatives trading, petroleum engineering and spring manufacturing.

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