What next for the creative industry? Creative growth through agile thinking and soulful tech

Nicky Badenoch, Co-Founder and CMO of GENIE on why businesses should be using respectful technology to supercharge their talent networks.

Nicky Badenoch

Co-Founder & CMO GENIE


This year has been crazy. It would have been even without the obvious. GENIE, our start-up bot, secured just shy of £1m worth of funding. We launched the app in record time. We built an invite only community of 700+ of the UK’s very best freelance writers, art-directors, designers, strategists. We signed 22 phenomenal creative agencies and brands including Saatchi’s, VICE, AB-Inbev, VERO. We really hit our stride and then…

Of course we have all suffered at the hands of COVID. But it has indeed accelerated working trends, some of them barely imaginable. Out of adversity has come innovation, and as the dust settles, if there is a legacy to be had from 2020, it will be that brands, creative agencies, and talent everywhere, put agile ways of working into action overnight. Hallelujah!

Satya Nedella, Microsoft’s CEO said we have seen, “two years of digital transformation in just two months.”

McKinsey’s research on how agile organisations fared during the pandemic showed that 93% of organisations thought their agile business units had performed “better” or “significantly better” than their non-agile business units in both customer satisfaction and operational performance. Unsurprising but very welcome news.  

Companies who previously took months to make decisions, suddenly found themselves having to adapt, bend, twist and turn to show empathy and find connection with their customers. And guess what? It’s been a revelation. As we emerge from the crisis, we all realise that agile needs to be a permanent mindset. 

As brands and creative agencies look to the future, they are now looking for technology to help embed new behaviours to give them the competitive edge. Here’s how.

We know we’ll be back in offices in some capacity but the businesses that thrive will use technology to supercharge their own talent networks at speed.

Nicky Badenoch

The shift from ownership of talent to access

Prior to COVID, 47% of the creative industries workforce was freelance. COVID evicted the UK’s creative workforce to bedrooms, kitchens, gardens and sofas. Everyone, everywhere became part of the flexible workforce overnight. This triggered a mindset change for companies. Where once helicopter bosses mandated talent should work ‘on site’,  we are now entering the age of free-range working relationships. One that's driven by outcome rather than bums on seats. Companies no longer require ownership of their talent’s time, they are moving to an access model.

In a world where much of creativity relies on serendipity, chance meetings and conversations to produce magical stories, delivering fame and business results, figuring out how talent interact is now the difference between winning or losing. We know we’ll be back in offices in some capacity but the businesses that thrive will use technology to supercharge their own talent networks at speed. They will think beyond walls and seating plans; they’ll be ready to flex and bring diverse teams together to solve creative challenges no matter where the team is located. 

The two a’s: Awesome & available 

If toilet roll was the currency of 2020, the two a’s are going to be the currency of 2021. Sounds obvious right? But these two words are why we started GENIE. Technology has been amazing at democratising access, we all now have access to everyone. But finding the right person at the right time is still painfully hard. Companies spend days going round in circles, finding someone perfect only to realise they aren’t free. It’s an analogue process that is the antithesis of agile. 

Every conversation we are having with our clients right now is about the two a’s. With software that can deliver live availability of awesome talent, at the touch of a  button, they have more headspace knowing one aspect of their business is sorted. 

Technology that is respectful, sympathetic, sometimes even a little grumpy, allows people to open up.

Nicky Badenoch

We got you, you got this

When we started GENIE we wanted her to be like The Terminator but your terminator and way more chatty. As we surface from 2020, every conversation, regardless of whether we are talking to talent or clients, has one thing in common: the need for human connection. 

As companies put agile working practices into their organisations, they do so with the knowledge that this year has been really hard on everyone. It’s therefore really important that they do so with soul and sensitivity. Human beings are not transactions. Relationships matter. Technology that is respectful, sympathetic, sometimes even a little grumpy, allows people to open up. That is gold-dust.  

As I look to 2021, I think technology, with both brains and soul, is going to unlock opportunities for growth for the creative industries. Before COVID, the creative industries were growing at five times the rate of the wider economy, according to the Creative Industries Federation. Forever the optimist, I think we can beat that.

Guest Author

Nicky Badenoch

Co-Founder & CMO GENIE


Nicky is Co-Founder and CMO of GENIE - Your Talent Agent From The Future. Nicky and her co-founders started the tech company GENIE at the end of 2019 after closing an angel investment funding round just shy of £1million. GENIE initially started as an innovation project in the headhunting business LIZH, where Nicky was a partner in. Nicky took her inspiration from Liz Harold, a lady of impeccable integrity and creativity, for whom one-two-one relationships always mattered. GENIE took all of that magic, bottled it up and scaled it. Prior to LIZH, Nicky spent her formative years working as a suit under James Murphy & Ben Priest at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe launching BBC iPlayer in the UK, and what is heralded as one of M&S’s most successful advertising campaigns in Twiggy Mr Blue Sky. Nicky cares about people and creativity, and wants to use technology to change the conversation. She is a mum to three kids and two dogs.

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