Interview with Paul Armstrong

Interview: Paul Armstrong
Paul runs HERE/FORTH, the emerging technology advisory that works with business leaders who want to use rapidly changing and emerging technologies. Clients range from Coca-Cola, O2, Land Rover, Camelot, Sony Music and agencies of different types and sizes. Previously he led Mindshare's social innovation team, worked in-house for Myspace and on large brands including Sony, Yahoo!, 20th Century Fox and Activision in the US. Paul first book is called ‘Disruptive Technologies’ and is available on Amazon.
Paul is joining us at this year's Digital Day in Glasgow on October 5 where he will highlight some of the emerging technologies that marketers should know about, help you to understand trends and how to sensibly apply emerging technologies strategically.
What was the drive behind launching HERE/FORTH?
I really wanted to give clients unbiased counsel – when you work for an agency there’s always an agenda and sometimes it’s harder to get work through. HERE/FORTH allows me to have a closer and deeper client relationship in order to make sure the best strategy is put forward and not just the one that makes the most money for partners.
What are the biggest mistakes companies are making right now with regard to technology?
Not understand what’s coming and when – this was a huge driver for writing the book. Beyond knowing and throwing around buzzwords (often incorrectly) in-house and agency folks are guilty of not using technology to serve a business purpose and rather entertain with the hopes of converting. ROI and expectations are key issues many are frustrated by.
How can new companies with a limited budget ensure that they are being innovative with technology and how can they ensure that they are investing in the 'right type' of emerging technology for them and not just another fad?
Get a system to evaluate what you should be doing – the book gives the TBD and TBD+ frameworks to do this. TBD helps you make decisions and TBD+ helps companies decide the level of investment that should be given to different technologies. Easy and flexible I have used the framework with huge companies like Coca-Cola to small agencies to help them better understand what technology can do for them.
What’s the first steps we all should be taking to future proof our companies?
Train people to understand, expect and handle change better – through training, external programes and internal ones. Altering hiring practices will also help find different employees that push ideas and strategies further. Bring in the change you want to see, don’t expect it from those already in the company – everyone needs a different incentive.
You are currently developing a series of high-level reports, one being 'What is the Future of Facebook', can you give us a clue, what is the future of Facebook? ;)
There are a lot of futures for Facebook – big areas of investment include Facebook at Work (a Slack competitor), Facebook Watch (TV platform) and AR/VR. The network they have built is impressive now expect further moves into hardware and content to fill different areas.

Digital Day is taking place in Glasgow on October 5, see our event page for more info and to book.

Paul on Twitter