Some Things I Learned in Dubai

Some Things I Learned in Dubai

After a week at the Government Social Media Summit in Dubai, these are a few marketing trends I noted in the GCC.

The realms of digital and social are making waves in a major way in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region. That is particularly true in the public sector. Last week I had the opportunity to speak at the Government Social Media Summit in Dubai where I noted a few key marketing trends as they relate to digital and social both in the GCC and in the market in general.

Marketing trends I noted while speaking in Dubai

Difficulty to Train Incumbents

For a lot of organizations, particularly public organizations, there has always been a certain way of doing business. This means that as the market changes, it can sometimes be difficult for these groups and organizations to pick up on these new marketing trends. Incumbents in the institutions tend to prefer their traditional way of doing things, which means new media is slow to be adopted.

I spoke with several members of the public sector that have tried to implement changes and bring their respective departments into a new age, but have been met with resistance. Sometimes it is due to the fact that people simply do not want to change, other times it can be a question of logistics.

Those that have found success have done so by implementing changes in a controlled environment in order to first show proof of concept. Once that is done, they begin to show peers their processes and successes, and help them implement the same changes. In the public sector, this is a slow process. But training and a step-by-step approach are crucial to making this shift.

Creative Meets Data

More so than ever before, I have started to see a general shift in favor of the world of data. Now it’s no longer simply about observing data and recognizing its importance, but actually leveraging it to capitalize on that importance. And that has extended rather significantly into the world of creative as well.

On several occasions, I had the chance to speak with some industry peers who shared with me their experiences in using hard data to create viable campaigns. This was a refreshing change of pace from what I have become accustomed to hearing. Often times, I’ll talk to people who understand that data is crucial, but have yet to use it for all it is worth. In this case, I started to see that marketing trend shift, and I’m excited to see where that takes us.

No Industry is Immune to the Importance of Social

Marketing Myopia is a concept originally theorized by reputed Harvard Professor Theodore Levitt. You can read up on my expansion of the concept with regards to Social Media Marketing Myopia here. Essentially, Marketing Myopia has to do with brands or industries refusing to adapt to new ways of doing business, maintaining archaic forms of operations and, eventually, falling so far behind that they nearly (or, sometimes do) collapse.

He looks to industries that are notoriously slow to adapt to indicate that a new form of communications or operations has become the norm. Those industries generally involve government. Considering the participants at this summit – primarily government representative in fields like defense, education, and foreign affairs – it is hard to argue that there are any industries safe from the overwhelming importance adaptation to social communications has.

At this point in time, any brand or industry that insists that social is not a crucial component to success is missing a very important aspect to the security of its longevity.

The GCC is Making a Big Push in Social

As noted above, this conference was made up primarily of government officials from across the GCC. That says a lot about the plans and future of the region. As we have seen with countless cases, social has made a bigger push in this region than in many others. As a result, governments are taking initiative to understand it and, from a lot of the conversations that I had, make a greater effort to understand their communities and better communicate with them.

It’s definitely an exciting new frontier and based on the hugely successful production that was staged in Dubai, it looks like everyone is embracing it.

60 Celsius/140 Fahrenheit is an Acceptable Temperature

For most people, venturing outside when it’s anywhere above 30C/86F, takes some courage. Well, at least that’s the case for me. In Dubai, however, try doubling that. That’s roughly what the temperature was at the midpoint of the day when you factor in humidity.

I was having a conversation with a fellow Canadian at the summit and we both remarked how when one returned from the blistering heat into an even semi-air conditioned space, it felt as though you were walking into an ice chest. At 70F, my room was a freezer. It was a one-of-a-kind experience, unless of course you have the option to go to the sun, in which case it would make Dubai a two-of-a-kind experience.

Seriously. Hot.

But an amazing place nonetheless.


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Corey Padveen is a data-oriented marketing professional with a focus on statistical analyses of human behavior. This specialization has led him to speak and present at dozens of conferences around the world, to write for a variety of reputable online and print publications, and recently, to publish ‘Marketing to Millennials For Dummies’ as part of the world-renowned ‘For Dummies’ series. He regularly shares real world examples and findings from his research, and discusses how members of society are evolving as consumers, communicators, and a global network as a whole.
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