Businesses that give two hoots about innovation are finding novel ways to collaborate with artists who have ideas coming out of their ears. Artists for instance, like Dave Stewart, my co-author on The Business Playground. I recently asked him about his advisory role to Nokia. Dave was stranded in London on the other side of a plume of volcanic ash while I was in Los Angeles on the other side of a swathe of smog. Go figure.
Mark: Dave, you’ve been an advisor to Nokia since 2006 and have the title “Change Agent.” What does your role entail, and do you have business cards?
Dave: My Title is “Change Agent.” At Nokia Ideas Camp they gave me another title “Master of Prescience.” Yes I have business cards. Very mysterious ones!
Mark: Nokia used to be a rubber boots company, then a mobile phone company and now they want to be a content network. What does that tell you about how they think?
Dave: Nokia will be the largest distribution network of content in next few years. They already are the largest camera company! Mobile is the fourth screen. They have more screens than anyone and now they are gathering content. Nokia has a large brain and all those excitable neurons in the brain are working away at future ideas and concepts that will change the way people can communicate, learn, share and live in a wired world where the device in your hand becomes your portal to a universe of options.
Mark: What does Nokia get out of the relationship, and what do you?
Dave: From me Nokia not only gets creative ideas that can be practically put into action and executed, but I plug Nokia into a network of the world’s greatest creative thinkers and doers. Meanwhile I get to see ideas come to life and to engage in the future of mobile technology and be at the tip of knowledge about the way the world will function in the future. I have lots of friends at Nokia now and we are working on incredibly exciting things together.
Mark: One of your first ventures with Nokia was launching some music by Cindy Gomez via a game on Nokia’s OVI platform. So, to get this clear, you took a sexy singer and instead of releasing a CD, you and Nokia created an avatar of her dancing on a game to her music on a mobile phone. Are you quite mad?
Dave: Yes I am mad, but that’s beside the point. We did that as an experiment about an unknown artist and her music being embedded within a game that people play. This is very popular with known artists – in fact hugely popular from the simple tap tap revolution to guitar hero etc., all using famous artist and bands – but our experiment was the reverse to get attention for an unknown artist.
Mark: As a rather successful artist yourself, what do you find interesting about Nokia? Is it the Finnish vodka?
Dave: Nokia holds the keys to many possibilities, and one I am very interested in is the potential for solving the basic problem of fair trade for artists, and another is their exciting possibilities for distribution. Nokia is an ever-changing company, but they are building huge foundations before they seemingly evolve. “OVI” means “open door” in Finnish language and OVI is going to be huge.
Mark: How is what you’re doing with Nokia the shape of things to come?
Dave: Right now I am working on three major projects with Nokia, one of which I created and two of which I am involved in as part of a team. They involve a narrative multi-platform approach and the general public will take part in these quite huge experiments which will actually change storytelling whilst teaching people about huge technological advances in Nokia world.