Your best skill is knowing how to learn: Bao Tu-Ngoc, BETC

by India Fizer , AdForum

BETC Paris
Full Service
Pantin, France
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Bao Tu-Ngoc
Head of Innovation BETC

What does the role of a creative technologist entail?

I am currently Head of Innovation at BETC. And my scope actually covers the work of a Creative Technologist. The role of a Creative Technologist in an ad agency is to tell the right stories on the right tech platforms. Gone is the time when we only had to produce a film for TV and the web along with a couple of print ads. Now, with the multiplication of touch points (that can be both physical and digital), it is necessary to think of omni-channel campaigns, where the storytelling is carefully divided to cover all these touch points: Data, IA, blockchain. The Creative Technologist, in collaboration with creatives and strategic planners, will come up with the best experience and the right technology to serve messages to consumers for the campaign.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

We are living in a wonderful time where technological progress makes us constantly reconsider our certainties and offers us directions to make our world better. Often, these innovations don't stay innovative for long. You need to know how to anticipate the future to follow the right hype train before it leaves without us. And you need to stay aware of all these technological evolutions. Your best skill is knowing how to learn. "Learn to learn" is the motto of the good Creative Technologists.

Where do creative solutions intersect with functional design?

By functional design, do you mean ways of conceiving a campaign ? Because, all our ideas need functional design. Each tech product has its own utility and its own tonality. You don't use Twitter (one-way message) the same way that you use Discord (bidirectional conversation). You don't talk the same way on LinkedIn (corporate) than on Meta (casual). You don't get the same quality of content on Desktop (more text-centric) than on Mobile (image-centric). A good functional design can become a good roadmap for an omnichannel campaign to help us get a clearer idea of the assets that we need to create and the way to deploy them in the appropriate amount of time.

What’s the most challenging aspect of the creative technologist role?

Like in all comms jobs, if you lose the essence of the idea along the way, the campaign will become unintelligible for our targets. And that's the worst that can happen when launching a campaign; that our audience misses the actual message that we are trying to convey. It's the role of the creative technologist to make sure that the technological density of the campaign doesn't interfere with the idea. You may need to remove some aspects of the operation to improve its clarity.

How do you see the role expanding with the introduction of the metaverse?

The myth of the unique metaverse shown by Spielberg in Ready Player One or the Wachowskis in The Matrix won't come anytime soon. And by the way, I am not sure if I really want to go into this direction because the real world doesn't look appealing in these fictions. I hope that one day we will enter the metaverse because we want to and not just because real life has gotten too sad.

And to come back to our subject, we've noticed in the last 18 months an incredible dynamism in this wonderful industry that is Web3, from which metaverses (and NFTs) are just one of the branches. Brands and organizations of all types have shown a strong will to create within these universes. I can see two types of missions in the short term for us:

Sharing the right values; because web3, before being a technological revolution, was a philosophical revolution. The concept came to us like evidence because we've grown discontent with tech giants' control of web2 and how it showed its limits: fragmentation of our personal data and uneven redistribution of wealth. Collaborating with our clients in this industry means first and foremost helping them integrate into these new Web3 values to give back power to consumers, before even starting to build anything. If you enter the world of NFTs without knowing the codes of the community, you won't get accepted. Deconstruct to better reinvent: because metaverses are also the promise of having augmented consumer experience (CX) with totally new business models (NFTs utilities, tokenomics,etc.) it's up to us to challenge status quo and reinvent the existing layers to adapt them into these new 3.0 worlds that are richer in opportunities. For example, what would be the future of meta-commerce experiences that could replace the boring ecommerce that we know today ? How can we use NFTs to improve CRM programs of tomorrow ?

Are there any passion projects you’ve worked on that you’d like to share?

As a side project, I am currently thinking of developing a decentralized Docusign. It would be a digital signing tool where every proof of signature would be stored on the blockchain. This idea would have many advantages; storing the proofs of signature on the blockchain could help reduce the storage costs while keeping maximal security for the user. Creating a standard that lives on the blockchain could help unlock this market that is currently working in a way that locks the user(and its private data)with the service provider.

Let's see where this idea goes. Thinking about this kind of project is also highly beneficial, because it helps me stay up to date on the technology side