Takeaways From #CIMC2017

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend CIMC, Western Canada’s largest marketing and PR conference. The program was packed with a great speaker line-up, all talking about how technology and future developments can be leveraged by organizations to better communicate with their people — whether that’s internal staff members or outside customers and investors.

Want to be the next “Uber of…” your industry?

Ted Graham, Head of Open Innovation at General Motors and author of “The Uber of Everything,” started off the day with a powerful perspective on how his industry (car manufacturing) has “been Ubered.” More and more people are voting for using car share programs than buying/leasing their own — decreasing the demand for new cars every year.

In 2014, over 500 companies called themselves “the Uber of …” of dry cleaning, of men’s razors, of pet food, and more.

What this means is that companies are offering something that’s electronic, connected to the internet, autonomous to use, and leveraging the sharing economy.

His call to action to those looking to be the next “Uber of …” was “don’t just take a job, make a job.”

(Would it be too cheeky of me to recommend that if you want to be the next “Uber of…” to also treat your employees better than Uber? No? Ok good.)

One of the highlights of the conference was the panel of experts that spoke on the future of learning. My three big takeaways from the panel were:

1) Education is not going online — it’s already online.

Cameron Uganec, Senior Director — Growth Marketing & Education at Hootsuite, reminded us of the prediction that the largest company in 2030 will be an online school. Soon, companies will be creating online platforms that will dwarf the Lynda’s and Udemy’s of the world, and include AI bots that create a catered learning experience for each learner.

So while we inch closer to that… Don Burks, Head Instructor at Lighthouse Labs, shared that:

2) More formalized programs aren’t better because they’re formalized, but because there is structure and a context for the content.

Structure and a purpose for the content is more important than the formalization of the content when it comes to learning. Burks said “Get an MBA if you want to administer a business. Get a BSc in computer science if you want to be a computer scientist. Get a certificate or do an online learning program if you want to innovate or disrupt.” Context matters.

Cameron also brought up the future of micro credentials — where you complete a specialized program that helps you develop a skill in an area of interest or to advance your career. I couldn’t help but think of how this related to the Manager Start Line and what we could offer to certify great people leaders.

3) You need to create an intrinsic desire to learn to win the battle for their attention.

Lisa McCann, Lead Digital Marketing Instructor at RED Academy, spoke passionately about how people want to be able to choose what to learn, how they want to learn, and when they want to learn it.

On the other hand, Avery Swartz, CEO at Camp Tech, talked about the need for people to take in some “eat your vegetables” topics. For example, for someone learning how to create websites — privacy policies, accessibility adjustments, and internet security protocols may not be what they want to learn, but they should learn them in order to be fully effective as a web developer.

The panel suggested three things to create this desire to learn:

  1. Showcase the instructor and their experience with the topic — people want to learn from the best.
  2. Validity and credibility of the program matters — tell the success stories of your graduates and the results it helped generate for them.
  3. Create a blended learning approach to stimulate further accountability and application of the concepts. Have some in-person group work mixed with individual online study; a little group reading/book club mixed with online videos to watch and listen to; a podcast mixed with a large group workshop.

My favourite part of the whole conference was when Jennifer Campbell, General Manager, Influencer Marketing for the Canada Post, took the stage. Canada Post — presenting on the future of internet marketing. I thought this was going to be a little out of place.

But she made a point that really resonated with me — direct mail is a new medium for the younger generations. With everything now coming into our inbox, when we get something in our mailbox it feels unique, special, and different.

With all the focus on online communications and learning — blended approaches still remain the best. For any age.

Meet Matt. He is bold. He is always up for the adventure. He is your biggest fan.

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