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Creativity: The new core of sustainability and future-proofing

The idea is to understand how top decision-makers plan to use creativity as a means to achieve a sustainable, future-proof business.

While organisations limp back to normalcy and struggle to get on to the road to recovery, creative thinking has become one of the most important tools in the bad. This in a nutshell describes this insightful ‘Creative Minds’ session.

Powered by Adobe, the session called Creativity: The new core of sustainability and future-proofing is aimed to unearth the new role of creativity and the importance of creative thinking today and in the days ahead. Moderated by Ashwini Gangal, executive editor, afaqs!, the panel consisted of a diverse lot who represent and run different pockets of the industry.

They were Rajiv Chilaka, founder and managing director, Green Gold Animation; Sidharth Kedia, chief executive officer, NODWIN Gaming; Puneet Agarwal, head-enterprise territory business (South Asia) Adobe, Moksh Chopra, chief executive officer, KFC India; Ashish Mishra, managing director, Interbrand India.

Gangal at the start said creativity was “an abstract intangible force… it’s somewhat of a lofty concept” and she hoped, over the next hour with the help of her panellists, “to add some solid mass onto this otherwise lofty concept of creativity” and talk about it in a slightly more concrete way. She asked her panellists to share ideas, examples, and anecdotes of how they’ve used creativity over the past six to seven months to future proof their businesses.

She also stressed on the fact that “as much as the panel is about creativity, it’s also about technology in a big way…” and she hoped the panellists would share how they’ve used technology as a backbone to the businesses they represent and run because “we all have turned to some form of technology and creativity”.

“For me, creativity means improvisation,” said NODWIN’s Kedia who went first and explained that they create competitive tournaments and leagues for video games. He recalled that time when the lockdown first started and they were in the middle of creating one of the biggest PUBG mobile properties for the South Asian region. “Overnight we went into lockdown and had to shut our studio,” said Kedia and added the biggest challenge was to resurrect the property.

When we returned and put together the tournament that lasted 13 days remotely, “the viewership went up by as much as 60 per cent” said the chief executive and added, “pre-COVID, we had 1.8 million views per game, per match, it went up to 3 million per match during COVID.” Our industry saw a massive surge in terms of gaming and viewership and it was a challenge to meet that demand because everything had to be done remotely.

For KFC India’s Chopra, the first question ask was “What role can we play as a brand?”… He spoke about the ‘Feed a Million’ pledge and how it (KFC) contributed meals to migrant workers, hospitals, frontline workers during the lockdown… “Safety’ and ‘familiarity’ were two aspects that were on consumer minds as per Chopra while the need to experiment changed.

He revealed that while people weren’t open to product innovation, they were quite open to channel innovation and hence KFC could introduce offerings such as contactless deliveries or delivery straight to your car or bike if you were uncomfortable coming into the restaurant or mall. There was no playbook to lean on to and over-experimenting in the environment wouldn’t succeed.

Green Gold Animation’s Rajiv Chilaka whose studio is behind the popular ‘Chota Bheem’ show revealed except for writers and storyboard artists which meant that around 90 per cent of the workforce had never worked form home and around 50 per cent didn’t have a home computer so the main challenge was to ensure each had one. He remarked that while using technology was easy, ensuring each home had a computer was the more difficult aspect.

We started working on new IPs and “In the last four or five years, we’ve created three new IPs and in the six months, we created six more new IPs at the pace of one every month,” revealed Chilaka and then told us about a discussion where his team talked about doing work for Warner or Disney movies but Chilaka instead asked why don’t we create such movies and reach a stage where they (Warner, Disney) work on our films… He also pointed out how they’re now experimenting with new technologies and software, and research on using game engines for animation movies… And lastly, he remarked that the VFX industry came to a standstill because no shoots took place during the lockdown, people lost jobs but Chilaka decided to open a VFX division at Green Gold which opens this Dusheera and it’s on the verge of signing a Hollywood movie.

Interbrand’s Mishra then joined the conversation and remarked that the demand for creativity has gone up during the pandemic because there has been a cataclysmic change that isn’t linear but almost kaleidoscopic… “Fundamentals of business have changed, possibly forever,” said Mishra and then went on to use brand Jio to back up his quote. He defined Jio as an agnostic platform… “It could be a telecom service provider… It is an entertainment brand as much as it is an e-commerce brand and who knows what else.” Over 10 billion dollars was invested in Jio during the pandemic and that is creativity and a smarter way of thinking in the new normal where “business itself is amorphous”. He also spoke about how brands on the supply side need to get creative and tech-enabled to become “personal assistants in the logistics of the customer…”

Puneet Agarwal offered the Adobe perspective said the pandemic was an extremely busy time for it as most people were at home and Adobe engineers spent a lot of time helping customers work from home. He then mentioned five challenges the company had identified which creative professionals are facing even before the pandemic.

One, consumers are 5x more dependent on digital content than they were three years ago and is more relevant when it comes to a consumer’s purchase decision. Two, 38 per cent of creative professionals need a collaborative platform to do content velocity as per the demands of the organisation. Three, 40 per cent of the workflow is slowing down the core processes as they’re still on traditional technologies. Four, 42 per cent of creative professionals mentioned challenges in keeping up to date with emerging technologies. Five, 74 per cent realise they are spending 50 per cent of their time on repetitive tasks which is a loss of productivity.

You can watch the entire session here.