Moving beyond the dry: data and creativity as the hot #CannesLions topic

Dentsu’s Creativity in the Age of Data session

It’s not surprising to hear words like big data and analytics being banded about on the Cannes Lions stage. In fact, the schedule throughout this week seems to have more references to data than it does to anything else.

It’s a winning topic for speakers of course – a subject we know is important, but one most organisations haven’t entirely grasped how to yet make use of.

The big message from Dentsu’s executive planning director Koichi Yamamoto was that data has the ability to help us create more emotional content.

He highlighted the explosion that’s ahead of us in terms of access to these sorts of insights. Currently there are 4.4 zettabytes of data in the world; that’s 4.4 trillion gigabytes or the equivalent of 600 gigabytes for every human on the planet.

But this is just the start. He compared the growth ahead as equivalent to the exponential increases that follow from putting a single grain of rice on a chessboard and doubling it with every square. By the time you get to the 64th square, you’re at 400bn tons of rice, he said. That’s a pile higher than Mount Everest. He highlighted this alongside the fact it’s been 33 years since the PC launched, meaning we’re only just into the second half of the data chessboard, and further exponential growth is just ahead of us.

“The increasing influence [data] has on our lives is really only just getting started,” he said. “There’s an extraordinary order of change about to come.”

The next era, he highlighted, will be all about artificial intelligence (AI). The surprising increase in computing power and data to feed learning processes will result in much more AI than we’ve seen in the past, he explained. But while singularity is expected to hit in 2045 – where computers will surpass human knowledge – Yamamoto insisted AI will never be able to take over our creative industry. “Only the human brain has the power to imagine the unknown. But advanced AI combined with human creativity will mean endless possibilities.”

To get there he called for much wider collaboration between the industry, for creatives to work with technologists, data scientists and more to look at ways of using insights to move people’s hearts.

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