Tolls and turnpikes really flourished in the UK after the introduction of legislation to improve the quality of roads in 1706. Pretty soon there were thousands of tollbooths all staffed day and night to collect money from travellers. Now it is increasingly rare to find staffed toll booths – technology has replaced many of those people and in the case of one of the main River Thames crossings, a licence plate recognition system has even done away with the automatic toll booths (where drivers used to throw coins into a shoot and the barrier would open automatically). Technology has replaced the need for people and even other technology.
In many, many areas the same process can be seen. Shipbrokers are being replaced by globally connected computer systems. Travel agents are becoming obsolete as people book their trips online. Stockbrokers are starting to be replaced by sophisticated online systems as more and more people get into trading. Mini-cab booking offices are losing ground to apps such as Uber that allow people to book a ride at the touch of a screen.
Technology vs. Middlemen
In all of these cases, technological progress is replacing (or has replaced) the middleman, the agent or the service provider.
Clearly the changes that technology brings are painful for some people. But resisting the changes is like resisting the tide – it is possible for a while, but ultimately it is futile. The change will happen – the only thing anyone can do is choose how to respond to it.
The challenge for many agents and service providers, is that they profit from exploiting the complexity or time-consuming nature of processes that technology starts to address. People – whether that is in their personal lives or professionally – rightly value their time highly and therefore use service providers to do the things that they aren’t able or willing to do themselves.
Improving engaging with creatives and influencers
The area that we are interested in changing is the way that brands find and engage with creatives, social media super-users and bloggers. Currently the usual way for brands to engage with the people who are constantly creating engaging content, is either through an in-house team or via an agency. In both cases, the process is complicated, time-consuming and (therefore) expensive.
By building a platform where running, cycling, triathlon and outdoors brands can find and engage with influencers, we are ‘automating out’ much of the complexity and time from the process. Brands are able to find new creatives to work with by searching the pre-qualified community on the platform using filters to get to a shortlist in minutes rather than hours or even days. Individual creatives’ reach, reliability and creativity can be quickly assessed through their in-app profile. A campaign that creatives can be part of can be set up quickly and efficiently, delivering results in a fraction of the time that a traditional agency-led process would take. And results can be seen immediately and in real time.
So technology is changing the way that brands and creative or influencers work together. However we are not fans of whole-sale technological replacement. We still believe that there is a need for the human touch.
In our case we love developing campaigns that brands work with creatives & influencers on. We love copy-writing for brands, producing video content and managing events. These are examples of what we think is an ideal blend of technology and service.
We believe that what the platform can do is take repetitive and time-consuming processes – such as searching for creatives to engage with or managing enquiries from bloggers – and automating them, leaving more time for the important human interactions that really make the difference.