Creativity is both the secret to productivity and the key to innovation, Scott Belsky says.
He ought to know. Belsky is the co-founder of social platform Behance (now owned by Adobe), as well as the chief product officer at Adobe. At Inc.'s 2021 Vision Summit on March 25, he spoke with Inc. executive editor Marli Guzzetta about the future of technology and how to cultivate creativity within your own company. Here are his best tips for future-proofing your business.
Getting up to speed on new tech tools
Your company might not have a handle on augmented reality or the ability to render your products in 3-D to photograph them for e-commerce, but that's where technology is headed, Belsky said. To begin to embrace those kinds of tools, he recommended building an incubation lab into your company where employees can start to form relationships with people in cutting-edge fields. You can also hire a freelancer or an agency well-versed in innovative technology to begin trying it out.
When it comes to outfitting your own business, "everything is in the cloud by default," he said. Skip Excel for Airtable, and closed systems for ones that are more collaborative.
Spotting the most promising new hires
Older tech tools like Excel and PowerPoint made workers more productive. To be productive moving forward, Belsky said, creativity is your best bet. Bots and artificial intelligence are going to be able to handle more and more of the mundane tasks on products like Excel. Thus, your hiring strategy should focus on what prospective employees "can uniquely contribute as humans."
To hire envelope-pushing people, Belsky said to look for people who have worked at startups. "That's always a really good barometer for what the rest of us are going to do," he said, because new companies can pick the latest thing to manage their workflows, for example. And seek out people who will question the way your business has always done things, which can improve your processes.
Using tech to appeal to customers
Appeal to customers where it's convenient for them. One example Belsky noted: When Adobe saw that it was getting a lot of mobile traffic, the company built a more responsive website for mobile. Businesses can even do quick surveys to see what the pain points in their digital experience are.
He also recommended getting ahead of the competition by embracing things like iOS 14's App Clips, which is a feature of your app that can pop up when a customer is near your store, for example. It has a range of uses, including allowing users to navigate a store with an AR experience. "Always pushing the digital experience to the next frontier," Belsky said. "That's what keeps you on your toes."