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Saurabh Varma – The Future has Found us

Investment Outlook , Published Feb 17, 2019

Saurabh Varma

Saurabh Varma

CEO at Publicis Communications, India.

India will also have to deal with the rapid
transformation that AI will bring in, in terms of jobs
which will be affected at an aggregate level.


In 2019 and beyond, three key global
trends will shape human behaviour. The
first being AI, that in turn will take over
jobs and put pressure to reduce taxes and
working days. Secondly, Health Tech will
largely focus on genetics and genome
with massive investments in that space.
Thirdly, the Internet and Social Responsibility
with focus on election integrity, fake
news and data privacy.

AI will have three large implications for
human beings. The first one is that there
will be a lot of pressure on “Universal Basic
Income” and jobs will vanish. They may not
vanish at an aggregate level, but we will
lose jobs specifically with regards to certain
segments. The second big focus will be
around “Negative Taxes”. As AI takes over,
there will be pressure to reduce taxes, so
people will have more income as they move
forward. The third one will be around
“4-day working” weeks.

If you take Health Tech, there is going to be
a huge focus on genetics and genome, and
massive investments will happen in that
space. The concept of longevity and living
longer will be a big theme not just in 2019,
but also in the next few years.

In the third trend, i.e. Internet and Social
Responsibility, one of the biggest areas of
focus will be around ‘Election Integrity.’

Second will be around ‘Fake News’ and the
third big trend in 2019 will be around ‘Data
Privacy’ – there will be big brands that will
collect data, but the pertinent question will
be how responsible they are with the data
that they collect.

From a communications perspective, the
fact that we have access to so much data
and such incredible technology, actually
means that from a narrative perspective, it
will change completely. Imagine, people will
have the ability to shape communications,
and we see this already happening in the
gaming world, but it will also happen in an
everyday scenario with regards to the
communication we receive and how we
interact with this communication. You will
find everyday pieces of communication
where you will be able to shape the
narrative, e.g.: If you think about a film, you
will be able to change the narrative in terms
of the different kinds of endings which it can
actually have.


Given that the old mediums of communication
will become obsolete, the new mediums
will give you the opportunity to interact
with the narrative itself. The second thing is
the understanding of the technology landscape
and how it will make many industries
redundant. One of the biggest issues that
the CEOs are confronted with is around the
concept of transformation. I think this narrative
will become bigger in 2019. There will
be more emphasis on digital business transformation
and that is a big bet that we are
going to be focusing on in 2019.

Technology helps you not
just create the content but
also distribute it across
platforms in a media
agnostic way.

From an India perspective, Digital Business
Transformation (DBT) is going to be the big
focus. Apart from DBT, another trend, which
is here and now, is around content. One of
the things that brands would want to do is
to create rapid pieces of content. The biggest
challenge we face in India is that creating
content – theme based or geography
based is no longer good enough. We have
to move on to create content every single
day and at scale. That means using technology
that helps you create this rapid content
for distribution. This is going to be a part of
the mainstream narrative in 2019 and all
networks will bring in technology which will
help deliver on this trend. The BIG battle
will be about owning a larger share of today.

In the old world, we created a piece of content
and we lived with it. But times are
changing and we have access to an incredible
amount of data that lets you create personalised
content. You take a piece of content
and personalise it for the individual and make it relevant for his/her personal consumption.
This means that the way you create
your content changes. “Dynamic content”
will play a major role as we move forward,
along with distribution. Technology helps
you not just create the content but also
distribute it across platforms in a media
agnostic way. So that is the big trend for
India – Data, Dynamic Content and Technology.
All these three large themes will
change the communication landscape and
the larger game will be played.


As certain sectors are impacted, we will start
to witness our economy moving towards
universal themes such as reduction in taxes,
4-day working weeks, work-life balance, etc.

From a brand’s perspective, the need to be
relevant on a daily basis is really the largest
narrative which is at play. Context will drive
the content. It is no longer about looking at
the market place on an annual basis to
create an annual plan. It is about creating a
system or process where on the back of
societal changes, you are able to create
content. So, the speed at which you create
content will be key to a brand’s success. The
fact that you have a larger share of today is
what will become the new currency and the
new metric for brands to stay relevant.

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