Australian Financial Review recently named Isobar in their top 50 most innovative companies list. So we decided to catch up with the person responsible for delivering innovation for Isobar in Asia Pacific, Erik Hallander.
Isobar Australia has been known for its creative innovations for some time now, what are your top tips for creating a culture of innovation?
I think there’s been enough clutter about ‘How to: Innovation Culture’ from too many people, so rather than ranting on about it, I’d summarize it in three points:
1. Get out of the way. Autonomy pays off when it’s instilled in an agency
2. It’s not about ‘failing fast’ as much as it is to be prepared to go into unknown territory more
3. If the ‘product’ for an agency is the revenue, you’ll fail to inspire good work
From Vic Roads back in 2013 to Chevrolet CoDriver – What has been your most exciting innovation to work on, and why?
The work that has probably inspired me personally the most has been the work the AU team has done on ANZ. Banking is one of those areas of life that has an unfortunate constant of being uninspiring, and the work the team did on redefining what a banker desktop looks like keeps making me a happy camper whenever I see it.
Innovation in our industry can take so many forms – does it have to be delivered via technology? How do you measure the success of your innovations?
Our industry is infamously guilty of equating innovation with technology. It’s not the same at all, but there is a reason for it being so closely associated. It’s something tangible, and something people can latch on to. It’s very hard to get the average human excited about an innovation of processes, but show them a fantastic use of interactive emerging technology and there’s bound to be eyebrows raised.
Success is a trickier one. The objective is not always sales. Our reason for being is to help our clients Invent, Make and Change, and so the KPI of our work varies drastically from project to project. Most of the time though, it comes down to the impact our work generates.
Technology is the zeitgeist right now. Is innovation just a fad?
I think we’re just getting started. Technology will eat into a lot of aspects of our society, and whoever can capitalise on that (and by capitalise I don’t mean make money) the best will come out stronger on the other side.
Ogilvy in London has just closed its innovation arm, do you think innovation hubs should stand alone, separate to the core business?
Depends. It has legs as a concept when the ‘core’ business is bound by a large amount of business restrictions. Corporate entrepreneurship is really nothing more than a quick fix to what happens when businesses grow. Beyond that, dedicated innovation arms can be effective in jumpstarting a capability.
But ultimately I feel like the goal should be to integrate behaviour in the core business. For mature freethinking organisations, dedicated innovation units don’t feel entirely healthy.
Finally, what technology are you most excited about right now?
It’s impossible to answer this question with anything other than AI.
Erik Hallander is Regional Mobile & Innovation Director at Isobar