Elia Méndez, MMA Spain: “Companies will have to use more agile strategies in order to transform themselves”
Today in our blog we have the pleasure to interview Elia Méndez, General Director at MMA Spain (Mobile Marketing Association). She talks about the development of the digital industry and the challenges companies will face in the coming years.
After almost 20 years developing in the digital industry, what is the vision that you can give us from your professional and personal experience?
The changes in technology in the last 50 years have been exponential. I’ve always been in love with technological advances and the technology itself. I was fortunate to have my first contact with the world of technology in late 70’s and since then, I’ve worked mostly in tech companies or in areas related to technology.
All this has given me a vision of technological progress and its use in different areas, but I think that currently with the situation we are experiencing, the penetration and use of technology both at the level of government and society, and in the business world or in the most domestic it will have another twist.
If with access to the Internet in the early 90s, the world acquired a new way of perceiving globalism in terms of access to information, with the appearance of mobile technology with new smartphones, in the late 90s, the direct access one-to-one and the exchange of data changed the way we communicate both personally and professionally.
Since then, what we imagined as science fiction have become a fact: artificial intelligence applied to all sectors, robotization and intelligent automation of both internal processes (ERPs) and those linked to marketing (intelligent CRMs, attribution measurement, chatbots for customer service or promotional actions), advertising (programmatic advertising) or everything related to security (cyber-security solutions; blockchain technology), such as in terms of devices with more sensitive sensors that monitor and adapt to different environments providing information for better management of people or resources or even prevention in sectors such as those related to health or the environment; day-to-day apps that facilitate user activities such as paying directly in a store with a mobile phone, finding a related geo-located activity, monitoring your own health or perform geo-positioned activities.
How are we going to have to position the technologies to offer, now more than ever, differentiating experiences?
If we want to make the user/customer experience with the brand being fluid and generate brand loyalty, technology must serve as a tool to achieve this challenge, but it will not do it if the brand hasn’t done previously a powerful positioning job based on evidence facing its target audience.
In the current situation of uncertainty, companies will have to use more agile strategies in order to transform themselves. Something that we see in the ecosystem of start-ups or in technology companies where the concept of “digital adaptation” is a core part of its strategy as well as its business models.
Technologies linked to the monitoring of behaviour, habits, consumption or movement flows among others, data analysis and prediction are key and not only for short-term actions, but for decision-making adapted to situations that arise well of crises like the one we are experiencing, or of changes in consumer behaviour or of groups and communities with which the company is related.
Currently, there is a change in perception regarding what the consumer or society values in a brand. And that assessment has more to do with actions being directed towards social welfare, so it’s important that their positioning is based on their vision and the values derived from it, regardless of the characteristics or benefits of their product/service or technological scope.
Brands that differentiate themselves will be those that have aligned their discourse to current social concerns, showing empathy with the interests and concerns of their customers/consumers through actions and campaigns that demonstrate this. This implies to evolve their creative formula to a more mindful narrative.
The technologies that they implement or use can be part of their discourse as long as they serve to reinforce their social commitment with proven evidence. Research studies on creative impact show that people are less receptive to sentimental messages intertwined with technical aspects of the product or transactional sales messages.
Is the global business ecosystem prepared for the radical change from off to on? Could we talk now more than ever about the famous “adapt or die”?
Speaking of “digital transformation (DX)”, the applicability of the advances and developments related to “digital transformation” shows us that still, it’s at different speeds, both at the business level and at the user level.
Last 2019 in a study carried out by various companies it was indicated that 41% of companies in Spain still didn’t have a DX plan for the entire company.
Companies that started with their DX plan years ago with the implementation of technologies in all aspects of their value chain have a much faster and more efficient adaptation capacity than those that still have the concept of “digital transformation” on the adoption phase.
From my point of view, this adoption process has now been accelerated for most of the businesses. The current situation of global confinement due to COVID-19, which we have lived since the beginning of this year 2020, is changing the need to be digitized at a high speed. It is no longer a question of seeing how I adapt o it, to survive DX is a must.
The implementation and application of the different technological tools are strategic to avoid, as far as possible, the productivity slowdown and the total stoppage of the system that is already being suffered in some areas and sectors, and to achieve the prompt re-establishment of the economy and the welfare state.
We will see that at the end of this year the companies that will stand out will be the ones that have reacted the best to the challenges that this critical situation has created. They will be those that, among other actions related to its structure, have put in place ways of safeguarding its human team, providing connectivity, processes and internal relationships that facilitate telework, as well as secure their suppliers and of course their customers. This is a reality that feeds the saying “either you adapt or you die”.
As the Director of MMA Spain, what can you tell us about what the future will be like in the short term and what challenges does MMA have to face?
Now the future is more uncertain than ever. This situation is being a litmus test for governments, companies, associations and citizens, where the level of preparation of governments and companies, as well as their ability to be digital, is being tested.
With companies that have had to quickly prepare all their digital resources to operate remotely or the saturation that exists in some public bodies due to weak technological infrastructures. All this will mark a before and after.
We will see the prominence that telework has had; how it has impacted on efficiency, productivity and results; impact in the reduction of costs in physical spaces and infrastructures and in the satisfaction of employees and at a social and also environmental level, in fewer journeys with less traffic at peak times and less pollution.
Cyber-security and privacy is another workhorse that takes on a special role. The adoption of new ways of communicating through video-conferencing or collaborative work platforms, as well as everything involved in teleworking and in the change of processes will demand a more robust implementation of systems aimed at safeguarding company data and the privacy of individuals, with constant digital surveillance.
AI applied to all sectors, but above all to establish preventive and contingency plans for possible impacts, whether health or economic, with, for example, healthcare bots, population identification sensors, measurement of data for the establishment of mechanisms security and resource supply, among other aspects. Likewise, the robotization of processes (RPA), which although it was already a reality before this situation, currently becomes a necessary way of improving the workload of remote teams, traceability of processes or adjustments of performance indicators derived from the telework activities.
More sophisticated robotic devices that serve as trackers or watchers as recently seen in some Asian countries or identification with ultraviolet lights (UV-C) and germicidal lamps to disinfect spaces. And many more developments aimed at the health sector with applications of telemedicine, telecare, sophisticated wearables that will monitor much more than our heart rate or devices at home that will measure pollutants or our state based on body heat indicators, etc.
Regarding the strategic aspect of marketing, brands will have to adapt themselves to a consumer who has changed the way they engage and see the brand, as well as their consumption habits.
As I mentioned before, marketers will be required to be even more friendly if possible and evidence of how they have collaborated and provided solutions and initiatives in this crisis and in the coming months.
Consumers are aware that the return to normal will be gradual and longer than desired. This will lead to restrictions regarding consumption with an orientation towards saving and a change in purchasing habits that will translate into an increase in online shopping and the consumption of digital content and experiences. Media consumption is also being altered, although TV is still the main channel of information, VOD platforms have gained in subscriptions, as well as access to digital media.
Like everyone, trade associations also adapt. Being our leitmotiv to facilitate connections between companies and professionals and disseminate knowledge, provide standards and guidelines to marketing professionals in order to improve consumer confidence, as well as information on experiences and success case stories that help those companies and professionals in their digital strategies where mobility is core. MMA is adapted to these times, facilitating exchange through virtual events, webinars or specific spaces such as the “MMA COVID-19 Marketer Support Hub”; a global space for information, orientation research studies for brands on how to navigate marketing during this global crisis.
Our goal in this period is to provide a space with tools and tips for remotely managing teams, crisis guidance and programs to support businesses, as well as marketing and advertising best practices and trends in behaviour and strategies related to the consumer to be able to provide MMA members with tools for decision making.
Trade associations play a fundamental role in society, whose existence is based on defending the general interest of the ecosystem it represents, based on the support and contribution of members who are part of these associations.
What does having a partner like Telecoming mean for MMA Spain?
At MMA, we believe that the best way to prosper, and the only way to survive is by committing to proven, peer-driven best practices and as part of it, Telecoming is one of our most active local partners at MMA Spain, sharing with the association their knowledge, experience and support in the different dissemination, communication and networking actions that MMA carries out in Spain.