Connectivity, agility, and creativity: what we learned at Creative Ops 2018

How to drive success by integrating your martech, executing quickly, and empowering your team to deliver their best work

Last week, Henry Stewart hosted Creative Operations 2018 in San Diego, California. The day was filled with presentations and panels with some of the greatest minds in creative marketing content production. We had the chance to listen in and glean some interesting – and actionable – insights. Here are our top three takeaways from the event.

#1: Connectivity is king

Sarah Iskander, Managing Director of gateB Consulting, Inc. (USA), took the stage at the event to talk about marketing technology. In a world where more and more martech solutions are available month after month, it can be challenging to feel confident you’ve chosen the right ones for your company. Iskander gave people some tools to get their tech stacked, ultimately reminding everyone that how your different solutions work together is just as important as the solutions themselves.

  • Ask the right questions. Before you assume you need a specific solution (e.g. “I know my team needs a new CMS”), ask questions. Talking to the people in the trenches could reveal that an entirely different fix is best for your current needs. You may not need a new technology at all; you could be better served by connecting two siloed platforms or expanding capability of an existing solution.
  • Know that there’s no perfect stack. It’s tempting to think that the perfect stack = the best DAM + the best CRM + the best CMS, etc. But that overly simplifies things. Rather than thinking the perfect stack consists of the best individual pieces, remember that those pieces need to fit together. Connectivity is the key to unlocking your best, most useful stack.
  • Make room for a difference. Sure, a turnkey solution might be easier to implement. But will it meet your exact needs? Spending the time upfront to customize technology to your specifications makes it more powerful and – in the long run – easier to use.

"Connectivity is key in making tech work its best, but it is equally important to have the right people and to treat them right."

Sarah Iskander

Managing Director


#2: Agility is critical

In today’s fast-paced marketing climate, organizations need to figure out how to move quickly. Technology is driving increase pace, and keeping up is easier said than done. Fortunately, the Creative Ops presenters and panels gave some actionable tips for increasing your ability to act – and react – quickly without compromising your brand.

  • Know your format. While it can be tempting to create one piece of content and push it out across all channels, learning your channel can actually save you time. Social media, for example, may perform better when punchy and short (which is quicker to create), while longer-form content can be expedited by leveraging templates. Live video can be churned out instantly. Knowing your channels is key to moving quickly on each of them.
  • Deputize your team. In the case of live video, it’s easy to feel nervous. How do you know that something won’t end up on the air that doesn’t fit your brand? Find and train people to ensure it doesn’t. Empowering your team to make snap judgments that fit your organization’s messaging helps you move faster than ever.
  • Be transparent. One speaker suggested that as much as 60 percent of a project’s development timeline is spent in feedback loops. To shrink this, make sure every involved party is briefed – and on the same page – at project kickoff. Getting everyone together at square one minimizes surprises down the road.

#3: Creativity needs the
right people

Because this event was focused on creative operations (i.e. the processes that make it possible to produce creative work in a corporate environment), creativity was a recurring topic. How do you protect people’s ability to create even as you need to put them on tighter deadlines in more defined workflows? Creative Ops 2018 offered a few suggestions.

  • Get buy-in. As much as you want to give your creatives space to spread their wings and fly, you need processes to be able to track work and get things done. To set those up without making your creatives feel like they’ve had their wings clipped, get their buy-in by involving them in the development of the processes that will impact them. Have them develop the templates they’ll use and the time projections against which they’ll track their projects. When they’ve had a say, you’re less likely to get pushback. 
  • Connect everyone. A recurring message was that oftentimes, stakeholders don’t have a clear understanding of what is required for creative work to get produced. For example, they probably don’t grasp the hours required to simply render a video. Creating communication channels where those stakeholders can gain clarity on what is involved in the revisions they request can create more realistic timelines and keep everyone – creative staff and the people needing content – happier.
  • The boring stuff can drive more creativity. Contrary to popular belief, tasks that seem non-creative can actually support the creative process. Spending time to develop a thorough creative brief, for example, gives creatives clear parameters from which they can work. It minimizes feedback loops and frustration. These guidelines actually give creatives more freedom.


Whether you work with creatives, are one yourself, or never come near the production of content, Creative Operations 2018 offered some important takeaways. In our digital world, connectivity is key in making tech work its best and opening lines of communication. Being able to move quickly is necessary, and people and processes make it possible. And, finally, creativity – like most work – requires finding the right people, then treating them right.

Want to reconnect with us at the next Henry Stewart event?