Adobe Summit EMEA: Embrace Your Industry’s ‘Uber’ Moment

Actively seeking startup partnership gives corporates an entrepreneurial spirit that will allow them to stay relevant, says Jeremy Basset, head of Unilever Foundry.

Adobe Summit EMEA: Embrace Your Industry’s ‘Uber’ Moment

Every industry is going through its “Uber” moments as its conventional way of doing business is reinvented by startups. The best way to stay relevant and to be at the forefront of this wave of change is to embrace it wholeheartedly, Jeremy Basset, head of Unilever Foundry, told delegates at Adobe Summit EMEA in London.

Startups are actively reinventing industries, whether incumbents participate or not. By opening up a channel through which this entrepreneurial spirit can be tapped into, Basset believes companies such as Unilever can play a more active role in what comes next.

“We’re encouraged to look at change and spot technology trends at Unilever, and so my main note of caution is that the pace of change will never be as slow as it is today,” he said.

“We’re the world’s second-largest advertisers and so we’re very keen to understand what the future of marketing might look like and how we can help shape it. So we embrace experimentation.”

Basset believes the approach behind the Unilever Foundry could help marketers identify the startups they should be working with. It is scaling up 47 of the 98 pilot projects that have arisen from marketers within the business, identifying problems they believe startups might have the answer to.

“Businesses have got to build a framework that encourages experimentation, otherwise it just won’t happen,” he advises.

“You’ve also got to be committed to speaking to startups, piloting projects which are either binned if they don’t work or scaled up if they’re really encouraging. You have to ask yourself: is it likely to work, then is it working, and, ultimately, is it cheaper than the alternative. You must do this at speed because another day of a great idea sat inside a presentation is another day wasted.”

The observations were backed up by a damning research from Minter Dial, founder of the Myndset Company. Of all the innovation being carried out in the world right now, just over half comes from startups, and 31% from universities. Just 6% originates from big corporations. It underscores the need for businesses to work harder on innovating themselves or consider working with startups where the innovation is happening.