Recently my employer Razorfish appointed Ray Velez to the newly created position of chief technology officer — a move that underscores the importance of information technology to the agency business. As my Razorfish colleague Joe Mele wrote, “You better have devs in your creative department.” In 2010 you can expect more talk about technology coming from agencies and marketers — but what we’re really talking about creating great experiences that build businesses.
Much has been said already about how agencies need to possess strong “back-end technology skills” in order to compete effectively — as if technology is supposed to be an invisible support tool. It’s certainly true that the ability to link a web store front to an ecommerce booking engine requires gritty technology lifting skills beneath the surface. But in addition, technology helps clients create memorable customer experiences in highly visible and innovative ways.
Clients and agencies are at a crossroads. Customarily agencies have helped clients say things more effectively. But clients need agencies to help them do things more effectively, like launch new products and services, create great consumer experiences, and participate in the social world. As Jeff Bezos said, “Your brand is formed, primarily, not by what your company says about itself, but what the company does.”
Technology is essential to empowering brands to do things, especially in the creation of great experiences in the digital world. For instance, Mercedes-Benz USA and Razorfish applied CGI to bring to life the luxurious nature of the new E-class sedan via a digital campaign and immersive microsite. Three-D technology was essential to a recent effort to demonstrate the features of the new Coors Light cold activated can on the Project:Cold microsite. And AT&T has turned mobile phone shopping into a playful experience by applying Microsoft Surface in-store.
To be sure, the real innovation occurs when technology is coupled with customer insight, creativity, and strong user experience skills. But technology is the catalyst, front and center.
When he was announced as CTO, Ray Velez discussed the importance of cloud computing at Razorfish. He was thinking of companies like H&R Block, where Razorfish used an existing cloud infrastructure to create the Don’t Miss It Game (instead of building a video hosting infrastructure). In February 2010 Razorfish will give a more complete insight into the importance of cloud computing to the marketer at our third Technology Summit in San Francisco. Throughout 2010, multitouch will continue to play an important role in the work we do, too, shown to great advantage on the Razorfish Emerging Experiences blog.
You can get a better sense of the Razorfish technology vision on the Razorfish Technology blog, hosted by Ray Velez. And of course through our work throughout the year.