I feel sad and proud at the same time while recounting my journey through this last stretch of the Masters. When we started this module at the beginning of the year we were told we were going to learn about project management in the creative industries as well as how to work in this field. What we didn’t know was that these months would increase our creative confidence and would give us the boost to make it to the next round: the dissertation.
Tom Kelley (2013) from IDEO describes Creative Confidence as the “natural ability to come up with great ideas combined with the courage to act on”. This was definitely the sum of these past few months.
The first big project that we had was a submission to the D&AD New Blood Competition. This journey would take us months and we thought we had all the time in the world. At the same time we started learning about project management based on the Agile methodology. We also created out personal development plans to see a general glimpse of our future, or what we wanted it to be.
As a film producer, a skill we are encouraged (or forced) to develop is time management. Without it, we wouldn’t make it. Not only that but we would also not get there within out budget. I feel that I can handle it when it comes to other people’s work but when it comes to my own work and projects sometimes it feels like it can wait, and wait, and wait. Procrastination is a big problem, specially with social media you can get caught and lose track of time. So it’s good to put down every task that you need to achieve by day and organise your week in advance. Including every event that not involves work so you know you don’t have that time available. But it is better not to lose so much time on organising and categorising, because this can be not only overwhelming but also making you waste precious time. I usually take a few minutes and then just start with the easiest one, so I can feel that I’m moving forward.
When we were ask to choose a brief for the D&AD it took me a while to pick one. At first, I wasn’t sure because none of the brands or even the causes caught my attention. Then, I thought I might chose the BBC brief just because it was the closest one to my profession, even though everyone kept telling me it was the hardest one.
I can certainly feel overwhelmed by the work sometimes. And when I started with the project I certainly felt so. The purpose of this project was to reimagine the relationship with the brand using new and emerging technology. I had to understand some key things about it. The audience (who watched BBC), the value (what is good about it), the market (who is BBC competing with) and what are the emerging technology trends.
Csikszentmihalyi (1996) says that creativity is the relation between a person and a system. To come up with an idea, first I needed to understand the field and the environment. My first source was BARB viewing, TV and SVOD reports. After reading and analysing endless pages of data from the past year, I was able to understand a bit more about the audience in the UK. Who they are, what they watch, when they watch it and most importantly, where they watch it.
After learning that BBC is the top broadcaster of the UK and that the average viewer of BBC traditional tv is over 50 years old, I started thinking how could I add value to the brand with technology. While digging deeper I realised that BBC had interest in attracting the young audience, those between 18-35 years old. They were even creating content to attract them, like BBC ideas, short videos about current topics with the usual BBC quality. They were also saying that the iPlayer grew 11% over the past year. They were certainly paying attention.
I believe I am a somewhat savvy technological person, but I can’t keep up with all the things that come out every day. So after digging a bit about trends in this area and just analysing what I already know, I realise that consumers want everything in one place, any time, anywhere. We don’t even want to type anymore or search, we just talk. No Interface is a definite shift for technology. Brands and consumers are realising that there are few interactions that are more natural or faster than simply talking.
It was time to let creativity flow. As Kelley (2013) suggests you can strategise once you have real information from the field. My first idea was to create an app that lets you access any of the BBC content (news, videos, shows, radio, etc.) by just talking to it. It is seamless and easy to use.
I decided to create a mock-up of what it would look like in order to test it, another advice from the Kelley brothers on their book creative confidence. Create and test it as soon as possible. I tried testing several webs that offered free app prototype development. I finally decided on Marvel app website, it was easy to use and free. I created a mock-up of how my app would look like and showed it to some people. As David Kelley explains, people will instantly tell you what’s wrong. So the testing part is messy and painful. But the sooner you test the sooner you will learn.
Here comes another learning from Agile PM, be adaptable to change. In order to learn you have to test, and unless you are very lucky, you will fail. With failure comes learning, and with this comes change. You have to be able to change fast and often. As I realised with my app, I had to make some changes. When testing it, I realised it didn’t offer anything new. Yes, it was easy to use, but would people prefer it over Netflix or Amazon? (primary competitors of the BBC app).
While thinking about what should I do, I was also researching for my final dissertation. I was always interested in how technology and new developments help the film industry. I started reading about transmedia storytelling and a book by Nuno Bernardo caught my attention. In his book, Transmedia 2.0, Bernardo (2014) talks about how people nowadays prefer buying into an experience over content. So, I started connecting these things.
BBC has an amazing variety of quality content but people are still preferring Netflix or Amazon. What would give its user an experience that would attract them? So, I decided to pivot. Instead of “creating the wheel” and creating an app with everything I decided to reimagine the BBC iPlayer that’s already there. I recognised some problems with it and came up with some solutions.
Based on those solutions I used new trends in technology to improve it. I decided to focus on three elements and put them into the app. I wanted to stick with the voice element, more specifically, that users will be able to ask the app what they want and have a seamless conversation with it. Amazon’s Alexa is doing it very good and is dominating the market. Users seem to love talking to their devices and the trend is just growing. Apple’s HomePod wanted to get into the same market as Alexa, they released a great film advert to promote it. I argued in a previous post about how it does more to sell the brand itself and create a buzz around it than selling the product.
During one of our individual sessions at school someone said to me, what about time? So I decided to take a look at it in terms of number. Smith (2017) says that the average time of commuting in the UK has reached 81 minutes in 2017, people are spending more and more time on the way to and back from work/school. I started noticing a lot of people watching shows on their smartphones or tablets. The second element I added to my app was a feature of being able to choose the time that you have available and input it so the app would give you recommendations based on that. Users would also be able to sync to their calendars and get suggestions.
The last element I wanted to incorporate was mood. Using Artificial Intelligence technology the app would identify how the user feels based on a picture and propose shows or movies relating to that mood. This is linked to the fact that people want experiences. And this would be a way that users can experience the app in a whole new way and share it with their friends. Besides, it’s something that no other media app is doing.
Basing my app on these three elements I created a new mock-up on Marvel. It was also time to make the submission to D&AD. And what I learned is that we will never have enough time, specially if we can’t organise ourselves. Creativity is messy and management is organised and it’s really hard to integrate these two together because they are complete opposites. But sometimes you just have to go with it, you just have to do it. I also learn that is good to share and communicate with others. Sometimes, specially where I come from and the industry I come from, people are very jealous of their work and don’t want to share with colleagues for the fear of them stealing it. But what I realised is that sharing let us be more creative and get inspired by other people’s progress and work.
My biggest learning on this past few months is that we just need to do what we want to do. We should research the market we want to focus on and create something. We just have to go out there, test it and find out what people think. Then change it, as many times as necessary. But the main thing is to just try it.
John Howkins (2002) says we are all born creative but we need freedom to explore our creativity. And we are in luck, because businesses are becoming more dependent upon creativity. We just need to let it out.
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