Oke Umurhohwo’s insights on the AI vs Marketers debate is golden and we love it

Audiences are evolving, things are changing,”  – Oke Umurhohwo

These ‘forced’ changes should not be an excuse to sit back and enjoy the ride, it is actually the time for people with ideas to become entrepreneurs. Fortunately, there are people who understand this and have gone ahead with their endeavours, the new normal way and are taking people along. If we paraphrase what Oke says, it will be like this: “Nothing can stop me, not even now that a pandemic is twisting necks and repainting Leopards.”

Oke Umurhohwo is the Marketing Communications Manager (West Africa), itel, where he has successfully executed marketing campaigns for the brand including itel S11, S31, P51, S32, P32 and also the 10th year anniversary event of itel mobile.

We had a chat with him for Share of Voice and it went like this:

The inspiration behind a sharp switch from Marine Sciences to Business Administration

I have always had a natural flair for Business. I can remember that while growing up, I was usually fascinated by seeing a businessman on television. I eventually got myself immersed in anything that has to do with business administration. I would offer services to my peers for a fee. Doing business has always been natural to me, but as I grew, I got caught up in the ‘doctor wave’. As a bright child, everyone felt I should become a doctor so I decided to try that out. Unfortunately, or rather, fortunately, I was unable to get in for medicine. I decided to settle for Marine sciences which was a turning point for me because it exposed me to environmental studies. I got really interested in the health of the environment and this was why I went further to have my first master’s degree in Environmental Management. But then, as an inborn businessman, I had to find a way to bring in my natural flair to something I am passionate about. I am currently doing my MBA because there’s a lot I have to learn in business.

The Drive, the Growth

Yes, many call it luck but I call it wisdom, grace and hard work. I am a goal-driven person and I have always known what I want, hence I put in extra effort and work hard to achieve such goals. This is the philosophy that has really paid off for me. I always give my best in any task assigned to me, and that has made climbing the ladder to where I’m today possible. But as a Nigerian, the fear of poverty, the fear of not living my dream, and the fear of not been heard by the world have kept me going and I’m not stopping anytime soon.

The ‘new normal’ question

Definitely, there have been changes. I’ve had to learn to work from home efficiently. It’s quite tricky when you work from home because if you don’t draw out a proper plan, you might find yourself either overworking and thereby eating into your personal time or not working enough. I had to draw a plan which has been of great assistance to me in terms of time management and daily goal achievement. This pandemic has made me see many things in their purest form, including life itself. Nothing is sure, nothing is guaranteed. So, when you have time in your hand make judicious use of it and regret nothing. If today, you are no more, the world will not pause. The only thing that can pause the world is a pandemic and I am not it. Furthermore, my job has a lot to do with the public and with the pandemic still raging and the need for people to observe social distancing, we (itel) have had to update our strategies in keeping customers abreast with our latest products and how they can still get our devices in the safest possible way.

How he approaches change – specific terms now

I have three steps I use to approach change. First, I observe, then I evaluate and restrategise. This is to ensure I am able to study the new conditions properly before proffering a new strategy. These are the exact things I have done during this pandemic. Change is constant but can be quite overwhelming sometimes and if not properly managed, it could lead to a setback. I have also had to scale back my personal budget and ensure that only things that are required are what makes their way into my fiscal plan. I have also improved my skills to conform to the new reality by learning new ones so that I remain relevant in the post-coronavirus economy.

Changing customers and necessary reactions

We have a customer-centric approach when it comes to our business. As such, it has always been easy for us to understand the needs, and even wants, of our customers and meet them easily. We plan to get even more involved in the satisfaction of our customers in the future while taking into consideration that they are evolving beyond the traditional expectations.

What will itel be doing differently now and post-pandemic?

While we plan to branch out and introduce new electronic gadgets and devices designed with our customers in mind, we also have several mind-blowing announcements and events all lined up for the year. Let’s just say we are out to wow and can’t wait to surprise everyone.

Picking the mantle, making necessary changes in the industry

The first thing I’m changing is APPROACH. Audiences are evolving, things are changing. You don’t have to, necessarily, be in their eyes every time anytime you’d like to promote a brand’s product or service. Communication patterns and tones are changing by the day – understand the language of your audience and speak it even if it’s sometimes informal. We seriously need to revisit many marketing approaches on this side of the world to help us meet up with marketing standards as seen in many developed countries.

The AI question we all ask ourselves

Well, I’m not entirely sure AI can take over Marketing/Communications jobs. I acknowledge the huge potential of AI especially as many industries are becoming gradually dependent on automation technology and artificial intelligence. We see the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence on the rise, and while the opportunities and benefits these innovations in technology bring are exciting, there is a human touch that marketing requires. Unlike most fields, marketing is a different ball game. It is an evolving field that requires consistent thinking, high creativity and a human factor. AI provides an astonishing amount of big data that is relevant for optimal marketing solutions, and big data is one of the most valuable resources a brand can possess. This is because the level of
insight AI gives allows marketers and brands to access relevant metrics that show the decisions the target users make as well as their needs and wants, and this, in turn, allows brands to serve their target audiences better. But marketers will continue to remain relevant wherever business needs fresh ideas to push ahead. So, no. I don’t think Artificial Intelligence is here to take over the Marketing space – it is here to give brands and marketers the chance to serve their online and offline markets better and more efficiently.

Oke with the ideas but…

Well, like Jose Mourinho once said, if I say some of these things publicly, I will get in trouble.

In one word, how do you think it will be for you and itel post-pandemic?


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