Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Ogilvy Australia has launched a new commercialisation arm, OgilvyVentures, and partnered with global IT and consulting business, Wipro, to launch new technology-driven products for brands.
OgilvyVentures is headed by Anthony Johnston. He told CMO the companies are looking to drive innovation and build enterprise-grade offerings to satisfy the two core pillars of their businesses: The CMO and the CTO.
“Wipro traditionally sells into the technical office and does so very successfully globally, and Ogilvy do the same in the marketing officer space,” he said.
“Solutions brought to these businesses tend to have a technical or marketing output, so we’re finding a consortium view that is getting real traction with large-scale businesses. The only way Ogilvy could do that was to have a ventures arm and use the skillsets already in the business, and re-purpose them to suit the commercialisation of the idea.”
While agencies have advised clients around taking risk and being wary of disruption, they haven’t traditionally been good at taking their own advice, Johnston said.
“In this case, we are making a clear statement to the market that we are prepared to back our ideas, truly partner with brands and help them make money, because in the venture space if the venture doesn’t make money, then neither do we,” he said.
“When we do get in front of CEOs, they’re very interested in this story of shared risk, the commercialisation of ideas and how we can take them to market. With Wipro, we have the might of a 150,000-strong company that is very technically robust, and we can go to a CEO and answer their technical and customer questions because we understand that space. We’re helping the CEO to solve those problems.”
According to Johnston, the partnership will focus on building and launching proof-of-concept platforms to take to clients, starting with the energy, insurance and banking sectors. These include a disruptive product to bring banks back closer to their communities.
In insurance, the focus is on telematics and using data to drive policy outcomes, both in homes and in auto. In energy, meanwhile, product innovation is being done around opening up more community and neighbourhood-based access to power, much like a stock exchange for electricity.
The products are expected to launch in two weeks’ time and are all big and scalable, Johnston said.
“It is very different for an ad agency to be pitching this scale of ideas to a brand, because it tends to be more brand focused. This is about brands and products – and how we go about commercialising them,” he said.
Johnston also saw long-term potential in using Wipro’s big data focus to drive insights into customers, markets and technology.
“Wipro Analytics understands big data and its power better than anyone, and can talk credibly with any business in any country,” he explained. “It is this scale and expertise in data that we see as presenting huge opportunities locally and abroad, and where the partnership with Wipro will be focusing.”
Johnston said the aim of the partnership was to grow OgilvyVentures to a level where it is contributing revenues and helping both Ogilvy and Wipro clients navigate through the constant change seen in current market conditions.
“This is the driver; to be able to open up products and markets for both Ogilvy and clients using technology as the anchor,” he said.
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