THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but creative thinking doesn’t hurt. Over the past year, necessity forced us to rethink many aspects of our lives, leading to entrepreneurial innovation to serve the needs of a mostly homebound society. It propelled trends already emerging — take-out and grocery delivery, streaming media and video conferencing to name a few — as well as provided new offerings like virtual theater, gallery tours and speaker series, which hopefully will continue as it allows a greater audience to participate.

Now that the world is opening up, creativity continues to drive interesting uses of technology that we may not have previously envisioned. Some may have been initially conceived as media stunts, as they have definitely drawn attention, but to a large extent may also have business potential.

The use of TikTok as a recruiting/hiring tool is an excellent example of taking advantage of what has essentially been an entertainment and marketing platform to do something quite different. The necessity part was targeting a young cohort of job seekers to fill openings in retail and hospitality, necessary to reopen or expand business. The creative was TikTok partnering with retailers and hospitality companies to use their platform to not only recruit young talent but screen potential candidates.

Blockchain technology and bitcoins have long been in the news, but recently NFTs, unique, non-replaceable digital assets, are the buzz. They are attracting the attention of deep-pocketed collectors who are snapping up everything from Beeple digital artwork for $69 million to a LeBron James clip for $99,999. Now there are a number of people who are also trying to figure out how to make NFTs accessible to non-millionaires, with Oneof, a company dedicated to minting and releasing NFTs building on a more affordable blockchain platform. And then there is memecoin, a crypto currency inspired by internet jokes. How fitting.

Artificial intelligence is informing everything from the potential for self-driving cars to automating repetitive business tasks. But it has also entered the world of what was once considered creative pursuits, particularly writing. Who would have thought that there would be a competition among AI songwriters!

Social media has long been used by journalists to amplify their reporting, but using it for personal opinion has been problematic. Enter Sidechannel, a community on Discord for platform users to comment on news anonymously. They describe it as akin to hacking into a newsroom Slack.

What’s really interesting about this random sampling is how quickly we continue to adapt technology for new uses, whether it is to reach a specific audience, create community or launch new business models. Often the second or third iteration becomes the big success story. It’s why in a brainstorm a bad first idea can lead to a brilliant final solution. All it takes is a little imagination and a willingness to think outside of the box.

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