Agencies, stop chasing buzzwords

Adam Smith
Adam Smith Managing Director | Operations Team

I was mind-numbingly scrolling through my LinkedIn feed the other day when I realised agencies, consultants, start-ups, even ‘influencers’ are all in danger of seriously missing the mark and becoming irrelevant if we continue down the “buzztechnology” path.

Buzztechnology is any tech that’s currently cool to talk about, often without context, meaning, commercial justification or experience.

As agencies, we feel we have to talk about these topics, merely to give the illusion of being at the forefront of the next best thing, when at best, we’re just deciphering the noise.

Is my honesty self-defeating? Well yes, but only because I want to force us, and other agencies to up their game and step away from the very thin marketing veneer we try and get away with.

Let’s be clear. Going to a conference on Blockchain doesn’t make you an expert. Buying a Vive for the office doesn’t mean you understand VR. Posting an article on chatbots doesn’t mean you have the first idea about how a machine actually learns.

Or does it?

With buzztechnology, it's just too easy to get away with the illusion of expertise with very little real effort. To be a ‘relative expert’, you just need to know more than others within the same system. So to appear as an expert in agency marketing circles is actually quite easy, forget the University students that have been studying and researching these areas with blood, sweat, and tears for years, we can imitate expertise fairly easily after an afternoon’s browsing.

This isn't good enough, we need to work harder. We need to invest real time into actually becoming useful and relevant, not just paraphrasing something we heard on a webinar. We should be hiring graduates who are at the leading edge of these technologies and then using our strategic and commercial expertise to weave these technologies into a real client need. If we do that, then as agencies, we’ll stand out a mile as the charlatans continue to create content that simply regurgitates the basics.

Let’s just get real - let’s shout about real-life examples, even if they're only small wins, build up our case studies and draw that magic line between technology and commercial benefit. Else we’re just all playing the buzztechnology game and fooling only ourselves. Let’s also be honest, just admit that most chatbots are actually fairly easy to set up, don’t need true AI and can perform very well by just following standard IF statements and routines. With for example, it's possible to programme a chatbot to track an order and answer basic questions in one afternoon. This isn't cognitive computing or AI, it's now thankfully rather straightforward. Starting small like this is a great way to explore a new field and grow expertise organically while offering clients real value by allowing them to easily leverage these new technologies. That's a far more useful approach than trying to have a voice on something we’re just experimenting with.

In many ways, we’re acting no differently than an X-Factor contestant, wanting instant fame without putting in the groundwork, doing the graft and learning the trade. For every LinkedIn influencer, there are hundreds of real experts at the coal face. Let us not fall into the same trap looking to shortcut success. We’ve got to earn it.