Cleve Gibbon

content management, content modelling, digital ecosystems, technology evangelist.

Help writing help documentation

Creating help documentation is a skill. It is usually not one that is done well by those responsible for building the solution. But you can get help writing help documentation. I recently discovered Synthesia and Scribe, two AI solutions that make the creation of help docs easier. 

Enter Synthesia 

Synthesia

Who doesn’t like video? Synthesia makes it super simple to create help documentation using its library of avatars. Just pick an avatar, enter text in the language of your choosing, and have it speak to your solution. Then generate, share the video, and your done! 

Enter Scribe 

I love Scribe. Just hit the generate button and it will capture how you move about the screen. It’s smart, automatically creating how-to guides. Saving you the hassle of screenshots, annotating them, and then assembling them. Scribe shortens the distance between creation to curation for documentation.  

Into 2024 with technology, workloads, and AI

As the calendar flipped to 2024, I found myself wanting more. After a transformative decade at WPP. A period marked by growth, learning, and remarkable achievements. I decided it was time for a change. This decision wasn’t made lightly. It was the culmination of introspection and a desire for new challenges. Thus, I bid farewell to WPP and took a well-deserved sabbatical to recharge and refocus. I’m now at Omnicom with a focus on technology, workloads and AI.

WPP

My journey with WPP started with a bang in Apr 2014. Our company, Cognifide, was acquired by WPP under the Wunderman OpCo. Wunderman was undergoing massive digital transformation. Cognifide’s role within WPP was to build owned experience platforms for its clients. Many clients. Ford, Investec, ColPal, EY, HSBC, Dell, Herman Miller, Coutts, Barclays, Unilever, Shell, etc. We delivered hundreds of digital platforms during my time at WPP. Then Wunderman became Wunderman Thompson after it merged with JWT, and now it’s VML. I left WPP after a couple of years of leading technology back into The Coca-Cola Company.

So what changed?

Me. After graduating from Oxford University in 2023 with a Master’s in AI for Business, the world looked very different. Something unlocked in me. Like many others, I believe that AI is mission-critical to businesses and people. But it was more than using AI, which is just technology. I’m curious about the operationalization of AI across the organization and equally its widespread adoption. What are the better business outcomes that an intelligent enterprise can deliver at scale, with speed, and sustainably? There’s so much going on. Understanding workloads, standardization of approaches, automating where appropriate, leveraging AI, and tying everything back to results has my full attention.

Omnicom

So, I joined Omnicom in 2023. They have a clear mission, with key partners like Microsoft, and have invested in an AI-driven future. Now I’m part of a technology team helping to accelerate Omnicom towards that future reality.

What’s next?

Focus and execute. Listen and learn. Collaborate and communicate. And above all else, keep moving forward into 2024.

6D Framework for AI

I’m a big fan of Peter Diamandis’s 6D framework used to describe the exponential growth and impact of emerging technologies.  It depicts how technology moves from ’emerging’ to ’emerged’.

The rate of technological change starts with digital and moves deceptively slowly under the radar until its true disruptive impact becomes clear to the few. Once established, the technology dramatically accelerates along an exponential growth path getting cheaper (demonetized), smaller (dematerialized), and accessible (democratized) to the masses. Think iPhones, 5G, the Internet, and now AI.

Singularity University

Back in May 2017, I spent a week at NASA with 30 other business and technology leaders, many of which oversee $1 billion revenue companies.  Peter Diamandis ran a series of future-forward technology lectures as part of his Singularity University program to share the collective current state, provoke discussions with divergent audiences, to change our collective thinking.  He succeeded. 

Singularity University

Now AI was high up on the agenda.  We had luminaries such as Ray Kurzweil sharing his predictions on the future of human-machine integration. 

6D Framework for AI

Now let’s position AI within that 6D framework.  It’s literally been 6 years since I attended Singularity University and our 2017 AI predictions are bang on target.

AI used to be costly, but now it’s more affordable. Smaller versions of huge language models focus on specific problems, and we’re seeing these models targeting web and mobile devices. And of course, everyone has access to AI now.

Every day, we humans are adapting to AI. Governments and corporates alike are navigating the challenges of ethical, responsible, and unbiased solutions as part of creating an acceptable AI code of conduct. Nobody wants an existential crisis.

And finally, talent. Augmented humans, or people comfortable with AI, have an advantage. The workforce is changing fast, especially for non-augmented individuals. Companies are proactively replacing future roles with AI solutions, both led and managed by experienced, AI-adept individuals. Nobody knows what the future talent mix will be, but it will be different.

Wrapping up, that 6D framework shows us that AI is no longer a technology of the future; it’s here now. So, what will you do with it?

Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Automation (AiA)

Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Automation (AiA) are connected by intelligence.  And it’s no coincidence.  

Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Automation.

(Intelligent) Automation

The corporate ask of automation remains the same; do more with less.  Because time is money. Automation is an efficiency play to do things right. Map out the processes that people follow to get things done. Then, start automating the simple tasks to free up increasing amounts of time to do things better suited for humans.  

What we really want is for people to adopt more automation, adapt their current ways of working, to ultimately readily embrace machines as part of their everyday.  Let’s be clear, augmented humans are (going to be) more productive than non-augmented ones.  The future of work is less about (wo)man being replaced by machines, but more about augmented humans displacing non-augmented ones.  This is why workers that ignore what’s happening today do so that their risk, and will more likely end up on the wrong side of the change equation.  

Automation doesn’t create much.  It optimizes a lot.  Intelligent automation uses AI to learn how to automate repetitive and routine tasks.  

Artificial (Intelligence)

AI is the technology that enables machines to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence.  AI is an effectiveness play to do the right things. Machines run algorithms that analyze data, find patterns in it, and make predictions off it.  Today, AI makes routine predictions that need humans to make those last-mile decisions.  You must’ve terms like keeping the human in the loop. Humans still provide the necessary guardrails on decision-making and learning goals to continuously progress machines gain more and more human intelligence.  

However, machines are learning faster than humans in specific contexts.  Once trained, AI required less data, in new contexts, to make accurate predictions.  AI is accelerating toward machine intelligence.

Smarter Children

So, what if as a parent you knew that your child was going to be so much smarter than you ever could be? Not only that but your child’s intelligence could potentially periodically double ad infinitum.   What would you do?  And how would you do it? 

As a civilization, we have struggled to manage the human race with many amazing leaps and near-disastrous events along the way.  We are adding machines into the mix and are re-writing new rules of engagement.  I hope we do better than the Titans and Olympians, where Zeus and his siblings overthrew their parents. Humans are not Titans, and machines are not Olympians. However, we are going to have to work hard to co-exist and deftly sidestep the fall of the Titans (read as humanity)!

The Rise of AI

Over the last couple of years, the rise of AI has been insane. Most definitely within the tech and data world, but more importantly now by users. So let’s be clear, AI is out there. Accessible. Available. Always on.

Before, AI was lurking beneath the surface. Working behind the scenes supercharging the business platforms that platform businesses use to:

  • Spotify; better matches listeners with artists
  • Airbnb; better find the best places to stay
  • Uber; better get you to where you need to be
  • Netflix; better know what to watch next
  • Amazon; better suggest what to buy

Because with AI we can have better business outcomes. But what accelerated things so dramatically, and so publicly. Well, the entire contents of the internet were compressed into an accessible, available, always-on service that you can have a conversation with it. We call this ChatGPT and it marks the arrival of AI for the masses. The game has changed forever.

So, over the last couple of years I’ve been grappling with the true disruptive impact AI will have on business. And in April 2023 I graduated from Oxford University with a Diploma in AI for Business. The timing could not have been better. I have so much to be thankful for and people to thank.

So I’m going to do just that by gently unpacking AI. I’m going to cut through the hype, and add back some context, and have some fun with the rise of AI! But to kick off the thanks, first to the wicked smart AI for Business professors at Oxford University, and most importantly to my wife for giving me to space to grow. Thank you all!

Three Steps to Innovation

We all know innovation is important. But in uncertain economic times, innovation becomes urgent. Innovation is a differentiator tied to future growth and long-term value creation.  There is no faking it here.  You won’t get the results and will lose. But there are simple three steps to innovation you should know to help you make it.

I’m always listening out for the different ways people approach innovation and get results.  I subscribe to Inside the Strategy Room, a McKinsey podcast and stumbled across an episode on taking the fear out of innovation.  This post is an extension of that conversation. Let’s dig in.

What are the three steps to innovation?

Innovation is the practice of:

  1. Finding the right problem to solve 
  2. Identifying the right technology to solve that problem 
  3. Fitting the right business model to scale the solution

Re-look at those three steps to innovation.  They are connected. A subtle shift from problem to solution. Although enumerated in a linear fashion, innovation tends to cycle a few times around these steps to get there. 

What are the innovation outputs?

But don’t stop there. What about the outputs at every step of the way? Think about:

  1. Find the problem 
  2. Identify the solution
  3. Fit the business model

You need to be clear on all three of these outputs to deliver true innovation: problem, solution, and business model.  Each output should have standard format and vocabulary for expressing them for all participants in your innovation ecosystem. Simple to say, hard to execute.  

What are the innovation practices?

Lastly, let’s focus on the innovation practices. This is the hard part. The practices differentiates good from great innovations:

  1. Find the problem
  2. Identify the solution
  3. Fit the business model

How do you find problems, identify solutions, and fit them into business models that work .  This takes both experience and expertise doing innovation. Getting results and learning from them. Really doing the do, where practice makes progress.  Every person, team, company, brand, or organization, does this differently. Driven by culture, access to talent, and leadership. And this is where innovation happens.

Just be clear on where your strengths and weaknesses lie today.  Leverage strengths now and improve weaknesses over time. 

Why what we make matters

Before I leave, the presenters on the podcast said something else about innovation that resonated with me: 

  • We make originals so that we don’t go creatively bankrupt
  • We make sequels so that we don’t go commercially bankrupt

So we need to do both.  However like any industry, sequels/duplicates/reruns are common, some truly exceptional.  But originals are timeless classic.  Don’t be fooled. They are not the same.

Innovation is about improvement and tends to fall in the sequels category.  Innovation is about percentage gains. True originals are inventions.  They require different approaches that result in new business models, new technologies, and new problems to solve.  Inventions are moonshot gains. So when defining success with your teams, with your three steps to innovation, consider which parts above are relevant for you.

Automate today

The promise of automation is to lighten your current load.  To give you more time to focus on the things that matter most.  However, you have to give up precious time now to get more time later.  For already time poor, busy people, that’s just too much for them to automate today. 

The tomorrow never comes syndrome is everywhere.  For companies, we see them tripping over short term revenue wants when struggling to meet long term value needs.  Or at home, sacrificing retirement investments to literally survive today.  

But you have to make a call. And it’s your call.  Do you want to be in the same place next year, or somewhere else?  If the latter, then invest the time.  Automation is supposed to make things better in the long run.  However, we don’t know how much better.  So we hesitate, and many never take that essential first step towards progress.  It’s time to get out of your own way.

Automate today example

I’ve been a long time user of Things.  It’s a task-based tool that runs across all my Apple devices.  I never forget stuff because Things remembers and reminds me.  It’s by task brain. This weekend I got notification that Things had integrated with Apple Shortcuts to better automate tasks.  I was excited at first, and then sighed. But instead of parking the task and kicking that learning downstream, I took the time to educate myself today. 

After a couple of hours of reading and testing, I had converted my micro tasks into macro actions. This equates to a 30 minute saving every day.  That was definitely worth the two hours upfront investment time. I gambled and won.

The automation returns for organisations are literally off the scale.  But you have to give to get. Don’t believe that tomorrow never comes.  It always does.  And when it does, be better than the day before.  Otherwise, what are you doing? 

Into the metaverse

Following on from my last post, I decided to spend a little more creative time in the metaverse.  Basically, sidestepping all the cryptocurrency noise around the collapse of FTX.

So I read The Metaverse Handbook with a forward from Paris Hilton.  Short story short, the metaverse is gathering momentum, shifting mindsets, and becoming a movement for the masses. But it has a ways to go.  The executable strategy for many is very much sucking and seeing.

That said, you shouldn’t ignore what’s happening out there.  There are a lot of interesting areas to discover.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

From Web2 to Web3

We all know and understand Web2 platforms; Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, and Facebook. They provided a high level of social engagement with consumers and their platforms captured all the value.  Web3 shifts value creation from corporates to communities so that we the consumers stand to benefit.  And so the Web3 alternatives to Web2 incumbents have started:

Of course, these are not as well-known or widespread.  They are experimental with an emerging Web3 marketplace.  So this week I decided to try one out.  I chose Mirror.  A Web3 publishing platform.  

What did I learn?

 After connecting my crypto wallet to Mirror, I was up and running.  My crypto wallet was needed for identification rather than payments.  Mirror is super simple and I was able to draft my first post within seconds.  It’s no WordPress but is both practical and pragmatic.  Refreshingly simple.

The next step is my understanding of the minting process on a decentralized web publishing platform. Wish me luck.

Make the space to create

I know when I’m running low on creativity.  I stop writing.  

I’m happiest when I’m learning, and I learn by doing.  By creating stuff.  Tearing things apart and putting them back together, differently.  And then my brain starts popping and I need to get it out, share it, write it up. Otherwise, I would literally explode.  

To be creative, you have to make the space to create. So what slows me down? Life.

Creative Blockers

Having a baby will do it.  Which I did.  You focus your efforts on integrating this bundle of joy into your everyday.  No complaints here, just life!

Leading others will also do it.  You become the oil in the engine with the goal of making others successful.  You create less, and facilitate more. Again, no complaints here, that’s the job.

And then there’s family.  Immediate and extended family drama is part and parcel of living.  It takes energy to deal with the drama that has its peaks and troughs.  So many complaints here, but we all have them.  

Creative Unlocks

Stop making excuses.  Deal with your reality.  Make space to create. Develop creative habits.

I know some folks that create something new everyday. I’m going lower my creative bar a create a few things every week to build up my creative muscle.  I want a sustainable habit and that means making the ask achievable.

So last week I created a new exercise routine. I call it R3S2 where:

  • S2 is Strength and Stretch, every day, for 15 mins
  • R3 is Ride, Run, or Row, at least three times per week, for 45 mins

As I get older, it’s important to maintain mobility (S2) using a mixture of free weights, pilates on the reformer, and yoga.  And cardio (R3) for that healthy heart. 

I also created a bunch of Python applications in preparation for a deeper dive into AI/ML operations I’m super interested in.

Finally, I committed to reading a book.

Make the space to create

And so I’ve started to write again.  And if you’re reading this, I hope you get something from it.  

Now go ahead and unlock your creativity.  And please, no excuses. Make the space to create.

Economy Ecosystem

I recently listened to a McKinsey podcast that features Miklos talking about the “economy ecosystem“.  It put into words something that has been bugging me for a while now about articulating the true role technology plays within organizations of the future.  Let me unpack that with a little help from Miklós.

I’ve been in the agency technology business for over two decades now.  There has been a lot of change.  Today, as a chief technology officer I spend a lot of time in group therapy with Fortune 500 senior executives in the customer experience space.  The problem is simple to state, harder to solve.  

The Problem

Traditionally businesses tend to compete within sectors.  Health companies care for patients.  Finance companies manage wealth.  Entertainment businesses entertain. You get the picture.  And with over 80 different sectors, the swimlanes were clear and comforting for organizations to win market share and grow revenue.  

However, technology is breaking down these industry vaults making it easier for companies to move between swimlanes to offer consumers multi-sector services.  Amazon started with books and now has many service lines from finance, to films, to food, to computing just to name a few.  I love the way Miklós likened the multi-sector service approach to the rise of supermarkets; now commonplace and widely adopted. Time poor consumers love one stop marketplaces and prefer that over moving between multiple isolated shopping experiences. Can you remember the last time you shopped in several locations to get meats, medicines, fruit and veg, deli goods, alcohol, stationnery, and hardware in a single day? I used to do that growing up, however now I’m part of a loyalty program for a supermarket chain that owns a part me. I chose to major in the supermarket and minor is specialised brands for luxury items.

The Challenge 

The same thing is happening digitally for the ownership of the consumer on a larger scale.  Technology is the dam buster, breaking down the sector silos that both producers and consumers are no longer imprisoned by.  So the race is on to own (a piece of) the consumer and there is everything to play for.  

Organizations can go deep (within a sector) and broad (across sectors).  How deep or broad is an imprortant business decision?  We know how hard it is to create engaging customer journeys within a sector you already excel at with business experience and expertise. However, tomorrow’s winner are getting out of their sector comfort zones to compete broadly across entire, multi-industry customer journey economy ecosystem.

The Approach

This is not easy.  So if vertical customer journey design processes are complicated, horizontal multi-dimensional interconnected ones are highly complex.  Literally, orders of magnitude are harder.  Although not an intractable problem, good strategy is key here.  

So think big, start small to build your economy ecosystem.   Take on board Amazon’s leadership principles, be humble, and be intentional about your capabilities to win.  We have to move past passive know your customer (KYC) discussions to actively owning them by putting theory into practice. Do this with a healthy dose of valuing progress over perfection.  

About Cleve Gibbon



Hey, I’m Cleve and I love technology. A former academic that moved into fintech to build trading platforms for investment banks. 20 years ago I switched to marketing and advertising. I joined a content technology spin-off from the Publicis network that was bought by WPP in 2014. I'm now at Omnicom. These pages chronicle a few of things I've learnt along the way…


My out-of-date cv tells you my past, linked in shares my professional network and on twitter you can find out what I'm currently up to.