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The Connections Blog

Today, I want to share some reflections on a crucial topic in the business world: how to dodge the shadow of obsolescence in an environment that changes very rapidly. And although I'll be speaking from my experience, this isn't just about me, but about how anyone can adapt and evolve in their career. This advice is for those of us who are older, the younger generation, and everyone in between.

In the business world, and more specifically in leadership roles like CEOs and CMOs, obsolescence is not just a risk; it's almost a certainty if one is not constantly evolving. Many become obsolete because they haven't kept updated their education to handle technological evolution, neither during their career nor at university, or because they lack the ability to reinvent themselves, and this is crucial. The data speaks for itself: a study by the consultancy Spencer Stuart shows that the average tenure of a CMO is almost 40 months, and it's decreasing.

The journey for many has not been foreign to these challenges. From the early days at Nielsen, where I had the opportunity to lead the deployment of people meters in Latin America, to more recent professional adventures, my career has been marked by constant evolution and adaptation.

But, how have I managed to stay relevant in such a volatile scenario?

The answer can be summarized in one key capability: the ability to reinvent myself. This ability, more than an innate talent, has been the result of a proactive attitude towards learning and adaptation. Something that helped me a lot was that from a young age, I learned to sell almost anything, from unoccupied advertising space on television, what is now known as programmatic buying, to innovative solutions for the analysis of consumption data. First piece of advice: door-to-door selling shouldn't scare us or embarrass us.

This diverse range of experiences has given me a unique perspective, allowing me to see opportunities where others see insurmountable challenges. At Nielsen, for example, I was fortunate to be involved in the three businesses they managed: data management, retail audit, and audience measurement service, and in other companies to work with a lot of mass consumption products from very different categories. This experience allowed me to understand the importance of data collected from the most unsuspected places, like the packaging discarded in homes. In an era where data is gold, learning to search for and analyze it in unconventional ways allows for the offering of innovative and, above all, relevant solutions. Second piece of advice: Look for opportunities! Many are embarrassed to search in the trash of hotels, restaurants, but that's where the data is, for example, a wine distributor should have someone go and scan the barcodes of the empty bottles in restaurants to get data.

During my time at Nielsen, we managed to measure market share of many difficult products to track at home such as women's underwear, phone bills, and everything was done by hand. We even designed the first dog census in Colombia, since we would go to the house, while looking for the information we also took the opportunity to ask if there was a dog in the house or not. Everything was more difficult than now, and even though it is now easier to find data we need to be updated to take advantage of technology to analyze it deeply.

Third piece of advice: Be someone characterized by having a vision for the future. It's necessary to anticipate trends and changes in the industry, for example, looking at old interviews, I saw that since 2017 I had been saying that in-car advertising was going to be 100% interactive while others were just discovering 3D printing existed. These anticipations are not mere speculations; they are the result of careful observation of the market and analysis of emerging trends.

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Over the last decade, I have had the privilege of attending the Consumer Electronics Show, and with each passing year, my admiration for this event only grows. CES is a whirlwind of innovation, a place that invites me to dream, to imagine, and to think about what tomorrow holds. My experience at CES has been a journey of learning and discovery, where each year I encounter astonishing advancements that shape the direction of our society.

Before attending CES 2024, I had already anticipated a significant evolution in the health sector. Health has always been a topic of discussion, but recent years have shown a remarkable acceleration in technological innovation applied to this field. My expectations included advancements in remote diagnostics, the use of artificial intelligence in virtual consultations, and developments in personalized medicine.

Upon arriving at CES 2024, my expectations were confirmed and, in some cases, exceeded. I witnessed firsthand how technology has begun to play a crucial role in the health sector. There were advancements in home medical devices for vital sign examinations and even scanning the lungs and heart. The evolution in digital health and telemedicine, which I had anticipated, was clearly manifested in the products and services presented.

But CES 2024 was not limited to health. I observed a shift in mobility preferences; instead of aspiring for luxury cars, many young people will opt for more eco-friendly and practical options considering space, like luxury brand electric scooters. The evolution of large screens, moving from multiple units to a single screen, has notably improved visual quality and user experience.

The inclusion of pets in the technological realm was also significant, with innovations like a "car wash" for dogs and apps that interpret sounds and breathing. The vision of flying cars, already starting to materialize with single-person helicopters and roads that charge electric vehicles, reflects an exciting future in transportation.

Despite the technological wonders presented, there were areas where I expected to see more innovation. For example, an evolution in QR codes offering more attractive aesthetics and improved functionality, and advancements in pain treatment for pets or just advancements in home medical devices for them.

At CES 2024, AI was the buzzword, and it was evident in innovations in 3D technology, and the integration of devices and brands to manage the smart home from a single app. These are just some of the areas where we have seen significant advancements.

If you want to see my blogs about the CES2024, click on this link to see more in detail:

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  • nataliaduenas6

Updated: Mar 15

Today, I'd like to share personal reflections on various topics. What follows are thoughts about the future stemming from curiosity and personal analysis. My intention isn't to claim infallible expertise but rather to be a curious observer. We are just days to be once again at @CES2024 where I will show you the latest advances in technology. However, in 2024, I anticipate humanity will encounter numerous challenges and achievements that up to now seemed impossible.

1. AI: The conversation around artificial intelligence is likely to continue into 2024. AI platforms for widespread use will continue emerging, capable of accomplishing unimaginable tasks. AI has been present for years; the advent of ChatGPT has played a pivotal role in making AI popular and accessible to any human being. It's crucial to be cautious since not everything labeled as AI truly qualifies as such. Creative fields like advertising and graphic design may see AI replacing roles. Governments will rigorously regulate AI to prevent its misuse while striving to enhance the overall quality of life.

2. Politics

- US: The Democratic Party may face challenges and strategic reassessment to counterbalance growing support for Donald Trump. From a purely marketing standpoint, I think the Democrats will wait until the last minute to launch their strategy to prevent Donald Trump from being re-elected (as, up to date, it looks like he will be the candidate for the Republican party). Either President Biden could replace the vice-president to strengthen his position, or he may step down at the last minute to support another Democratic candidate, such as California governor Gavin Newsom. In any case, this presidential election will affect stocks and investments in the US until it happens.

- Latin America: Mexico will be the focus of attention due to last year's presidential period of President Lopez Obrador, not only to see if Mexico will continue to be governed by the left but also because it may be the first time Mexico could have a woman president, as there are two female candidates running for presidency. There’s a possibility of slight improvement in Venezuela, contingent on political events. Colombia could grapple with ongoing instability due to the current government's failure to achieve electoral promises. Argentina, Ecuador, Guatemala, and possibly Peru will have brand new presidents, bringing uncertainty to the region. One key point is that "gig employment” run by near-shoring will keep growing in Latin America in 2024.

3. Advertising: The advertising industry is poised for continued growth, particularly in "retail media”. The consolidation of Retail Media as the third wave of digital advertising after search and social media is expected in 2024. Budgets from trade marketing will be mixed up with advertising budgets, keeping the industry growing. Amazon will be consolidated as one of the three big monsters in advertising. Resources are increasingly being directed by advertisers toward electronic retail platforms. Concurrently, the debate on cookies, key to consumer tracking, persists. First-party data emerges as a continuing focal point, extending this discussion for the future. However, I think that Google will once again postpone the decision to eliminate cookies under pressure from advertisers. Moreover, we could expect potential mergers or platform formations. Possibilities include alliances in physical retail forming between Google and/or Facebook and acquisitions of streaming platforms by retail giants. This holistic strategy encompasses physical and online realms, entertainment, retail, and search engines, with companies lacking in any of these facets facing a disadvantage. Agency business will keep moving to create networks of independent agencies in a more agile and efficient model for advertisers, continuing the trend of obsolescence for legacy full-service agency and media agency models. AI will play a key role in automating and self-service of advertising platforms, reducing costs while increasing quality in services such as creativity and graphic design. Consumers will push manufacturers for consistency between what they advertise and how they act towards social responsibility, making it increasingly important to include this item in marketing plans.

4. Medicine: Virtual consultations may lead to the sale of medical kits for basic vital sign examinations at home. AI-driven virtual doctors might offer initial diagnoses, potentially replacing Urgent Care doctors for minor viral and infections illnesses. I'm eager to see what @CES2024 presents on this topic. Another significant news in 2024 could be the FDA's definitive approval for a drug to alleviate Alzheimer's symptoms among senior citizens. Additionally, we anticipate the final FDA approval for LOY-001, an anti-aging drug for dogs that could extend their longevity. Although the drug isn't for humans, it sparks hope that similar medicines for humans might emerge in the coming years, offering benefits for our generation or the next.

5. Mobility: Autonomous vehicles have the potential to reshape vehicle ownership towards an on-demand and shared model, similar to Airbnb. However, challenges concerning liabilities and infrastructure still need to be addressed. Autonomy won't be an issue, as some models can reach 400 miles with a single charge. However, long trips continue to face challenges due to the lack of fast chargers in remote areas and the time needed to recharge, even with fast chargers.

Non-fossil fuels are becoming prevalent in transportation; large commercial aircraft are starting to use these fuels in trans-oceanic flights, reducing both contamination and operational costs. Airlines will persist in competing based on pricing, with first-class making way for more seats in premium economy and business class (featuring flat beds) for long-haul trips. There's potential for a revolution with the introduction of supersonic planes for commercial flights, but we'll need to wait at least another 5 years for them to become operational again. The use of electric bikes will continue to be promoted by many cities, especially in Europe and Latin America, such as Bogotá, where such programs are already in operation.

2024 is expected to be a revolutionary year in innovation; however, we cannot overlook the impact it will have on unemployment and contamination. It is our responsibility to work on minimizing the negative impact while maximizing the positive effects on our communities.

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