Speaking at IACT on The Future Of Marketing & Communications

Speaking at IACT 20151202
The great bunch of students I had the pleasure of hanging out with. 2 Dec 2015.

I was invited to give this presentation to a student class at IACT College, which was founded by the advertising industry to become Malaysia’s premier college specialising in creative communication.

I enjoyed my time with the students as well as the insightful questions they asked.

I spoke on “The Future of Marketing & Communications”, exploring the disruptions impacting marketing and communications today as well as what capabilities practitioners need to develop for the future. In a world where the scarcest resources are attention and engagement, marketers and communicators need to:

  1. Have a conversation – Marketing and communications today is essentially a dialogue with the marketplace. We need to design organisations and capabilities that set us on a virtuous circle where we sense/listen, integrate, and communicate again and again to remain relevant and engaged with our audiences.
  2. Embrace and co-create with your community – From the conversations we have with the marketplace, we are able to take in input and perspectives that result in truly engaging initiatives that already have buy-in from our audiences and customers.
  3. Tell authentic stories – In a world saturated with banal noise, authentic storytelling helps cut through the clutter; engaging both the heart and the mind.
  4. Integrate across media – Marketing and communication channels can no longer operate in silos. The sum of parts are often stronger than the individual parts.
  5. Build your own media platforms – As the media and channel landscape becomes even more fragmented, a brand’s own media platforms often become an authoritative source of information.

My slides are available here:

I also shared some case study/examples from both Microsoft and Shell. The videos I refer to in my slides are as follows:

Shell – Destination Home

  • Link to video on Youku
  • More context to this campaign available here and here

Shell #MakeTheFuture – Morro de Mineira Project

Microsoft – Decode Jay-z with Bing

Speaking at Comms Malaysia 2015 on The Future of Communications

CommsMalaysia_2015-40Photo credit: Advertising + Marketing

I was very honored to be invited to join a great panel of speakers at the recent Comms Malaysia 2015 event, organized by Advertising + Marketing, a publication of Lighthouse Independent Media.

Comms Malaysia Speakers

I spoke on the topic, “Looking to what’s next: The Future Of Communications.” In my presentation, I made the case that the marketing and communications landscape is being completely disrupted by many forces, including: the globalized & hyper-connected world we live in today; Big Data and the Internet of Everything; Social media; an ever-changing and ever-fragmenting media landscape; ubiquitous connectivity, and changing interfaces.

Drawing on case studies and examples from both Microsoft and Shell, I then outlined four capabilies marketers and communicators could build on to prepare themselves for the future of communications:

  1. Embracing & co-creating with your community
  2. Telling authentic stories
  3. Integrating across media
  4. Building on our owned media platforms

Here are the slides from my presentation. I hope you enjoy them and look forward to engaging with you on it.

There were two videos embedded in my presentation, which can be viewed via YouTube here:

  • #makethefuture Morro da Mineira Project:

  • Microsoft Bing – Decode Jay-Z Case Study:

I Miss My Tech: Life After Working In A Tech Company

(This version below was as originally submitted to PC.com as an op-ed article. The final version of that appeared in PC.com’s March 2015 issue can be viewed as a PDF here)


Up until recently, I worked in the technology space with one of the world’s leaders in computing technology. For the self-professed geek that I am, it was an eye-opening experience. I was exposed, especially, to what was amazingly possible in the context of a commercial/work productivity setting;  that is, just how much more companies could be using technology to enhance productivity at work. I’ve recently left the tech industry to begin a new adventure in the energy sector, and wow, what a change it’s been in terms of technology usage at the work place!

The change in my productivity technology environment has led me to some initial observations, from a lay-person user perspective:

  1. Productivity technology adoption outside of tech companies is slow(er). And the bigger the company (especially in terms of number of employees), the slower the adoption. Tech companies need to help their customers compress the learning and adoption curve if they want their customers to see value in their products and offerings. Having a good track record in, not just implementation, but change management, builds credibility for the next purchase cycle.Users in customer environments tend to fall along the lines of a standard technology adoption lifecycle bell-curve, which means that only a very small minority will be innovators and early adopters. On the flipside, the majority of users will be slower in adopting whatever “newfangled nonsense IT has just made us install/upgrade to” (not an actual verbatim statement, but certainly representative of what I’ve heard along the corridors). If the starting point of the curve begins once the contract is signed, then the clock has already started ticking before users make lasting judgments (informed or otherwise) about the productivity technology they are being “forced” to adopt. As such, companies focusing more on driving adoption and deployment, rather than just measuring sales alone, is a step in the right direction. Also, needless to say, the ease and user-friendliness of the technology greatly accelerates the learning and adoption curve.
  2. Workarounds thrive in the user environment – and it happens primarily through the browser. My present productivity environment is “locked” – that is, I can’t download and install any other software that isn’t pushed from a central IT-approved repository. Also, there is a somewhat limited and regulated BYOD policy in place, with a strict, conservative emphasis on security. Having come from a personal and professional place of productivity where I’m used to having almost everything cloud-based (or at least, cloud-empowered) and leveraging some useful third-party productivity apps, it’s jarring for me not to be able to install some of the programs I relied on or have some others connected to services on the web.My workaround? Going through the browser. So far, most of the cloud-powered for me is still accessible via the web, and that’s why my one constant go-to, always-on app is the web browser. From it, I can still access quite a few of the services I need for productivity (for example, I use OneNote quite extensively for work). The web browser has become my window to the outside world and having a browser that helps users get things done quickly – whether via desktop or mobile – is vital. In fact, I’m writing this blog on OneNote Online – accessed through Google Chrome.
  3. Workarounds are consumer-driven. The consumerization of IT is a reality – everyone I’ve seen in work environments outside of technology carried their own device to work; whether it was a smartphone or a tablet. Many of them have pushed IT services to provide means to access work calendars and emails on their own personal devices. This is an interesting space to watch because the surprising (given that it’s viewed primarily as a consumer brand) winner is presently Apple.Apple has come a long way from being just a consumer device. It’s turned its leadership in the consumer space into a platform to enter the commercial/enterprise space – and it’s clearly working. This has been further aided by the confluence of a) many users wanting to use tablets and smartphones for work, b) IT services acquiescing by providing policies that make it possible to support access to work calendars, emails and more, as well as c) Android’s perception for less-than-stellar security – resulting in iOS being the popular option for mobile productivity in my previous workplaces. The only other option available? Blackberry – some users would rather just forego the option to access work calendar and email on their smart devices altogether, unless forced to carry one by their manager! What about Windows Phone? (Disclaimer: I used to work for Microsoft) Well, at a current share of less than 1%, it’s got a ways to go before IT policy decision-makers feel compelled enough to do something about it. There’s certainly a compelling case for IT companies championing productivity to win the consumer first, before they can start thinking about winning over IT policy decision makers and the rest.

It’s been an interesting transition – from dogfooding some of the latest innovations in productivity technology – to being relegated to having my technology options determined by the IT department. I’m certainly hoping that these observations will help IT companies figure out a better strategy to bring the light of cutting-edge innovation to self-professed geeks trapped in the recesses of the majority-laggard part of the technology adoption lifecycle!

Joining Shell: Head of Media Relations & Issues Management



One of my earliest memories about Shell is sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car, as we pull in to the petrol station for a fill up. It’s been many, many years since then, and I’ve now become a Shell customer, just like my parents before me.

So, when I got a call from the recruiter to consider an opportunity in the energy industry, I couldn’t have been more delighted to discover that it was with Shell!

Over the course of my interviews, I got truly excited getting to know some of the amazing work the folks at Shell are doing – beyond just fuel, lubricants, and petrol stations. There’s a world of other things like the popular Shell Eco Marathon to some truly innovative solutions in energy solutions and petroleum derivatives!

Which brings me to today.

I’ve just started my stint today as Shell Malaysia‘s Head of Media Relations and Issues Management; where I will be primarily accountable for: being a trusted adviser to Executive Chairman and senior managers on key Group issues; identify emerging issues and ensuring that reputation issues are effectively managed for the country; as well as engaging the to drive reputational value.

I’m looking forward to this new role and the adventures that await!

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