in Business & Marketing

Digital Transformation: From Innovation to Adaptation

Just a peace of writing I have been playing around with. Maybe someone finds it interesting. It relates to the advertising and marketing industry and the transformation mindset we need to adopt in order to adapt.

It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself……so says Charles Darwin in his “Origin of Species.”

An adaptive organisation is an applied learning organization aimed to drive sustainable positive impact to its environment for which it is out to serve. Only through continuous adaptation, can an organization forge a constant flow of innovation that will catalyze its evolution into the digital era where change is it’s only constant. – Chris Baldwin 🙂

Just as we grow up in life learning from the information in our environment, which provides us the life experiences that ultimately define who we become and what we believe; so to, must an organization grow through defining itself and its beliefs, which ultimately shapes its existence.

Something is wrong. Our advertising industry is struggling to adapt to a new digital era where we (the consumer) is adopting and adapting to technology that is radically transforming the way we communicate, consume, create and share the things that give us meaning. This has placed our industry in the midst of a major disruption, making us extremely vulnerable as an industry and at risk of disintermediation by disruptive innovators.

Furthermore, our business model, which has traditionally brought together creative, media buying, planning and performance agencies is under attack on multiple fronts: Activist investors are putting pressure on the biggest advertisers to cut spending while professional services firms such as Accenture have emerged as able competitors to the big agencies. Regulators are implementing major constraints on the use of data to protect consumer security and privacy and last but not least, the consumer is fed up with an interruptive advertising model that is following their every step in a digital ecosystem and interrupting them in un-meaningful ways. Something is wrong.

While new disruptive ways-of-work are being proposed, the transformation that the advertising industry requires will need to be more “adaptive” than “transformative” in order to keep up with a continually evolving consumer, obsessed in adopting new technologies. A new world of connected-everything is giving rise to an abundance of signals, which is requiring an AI-first approach through machine learning to remain competitive. The human capabilities we hold valuable today will have no match to the smart machine approaches of the near future that will drive campaigns with greater ease and efficiency than we could possibly imagine today.

This will require our industry to develop talent with a vastly different skill-set in order to remain competitive and attractive to large multinational clients. It will also require a way-of-work that will marry the human qualities of empathy, creativity and strategy with the machine qualities of efficiency and scalability through data-driven mindsets, which will lead to winning formulas in our industry’s future.


The good news is that our industry is largely composed of people based organisations with no big fixed structural costs and workforces that are “culturally attuned”, giving them a competitive advantage to “shape-shift” with a changing environment. Applying learned knowledge with speed and efficiency will be key to transforming into an adaptive organization built to weather an accelerated pace of technological driven change experienced in this digital era.

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