The 2016 Tech Trends That Every Creative Team Needs To Know About

Today's in-house creatives face their fair share of challenges. Teams are becoming more geographically distributed, which increases the complexity of managing collaborative projects that span time zones or even countries.

In-house creatives are also not immune to the trend toward quantifying productivity at an increasingly granular level. As organizations become more reliant on micro and macro data inputs to power their decision-making, being able to collect and analyze relevant project data (time spent, costs, productivity metrics) in real time is yet another item on the to-do list of busy in-house creatives.

With these challenges and pressures here to stay for the foreseeable future, we predict we'll see in-house teams continue to increase their reliance on technology to help them manage their workloads efficiently and balance creativity and productivity. Here are the key tech trends we think will shape how you and your team will be working next year and beyond.

Marketing and creative teams will have bigger budgets

According to research from Gartner and Foundation Capital, CMOs will outspend CIOs by 2017, with their investment in tech rising to $120B over the next decade. Smart teams will be earmarking some of this money for strategic investments in project management solutions to consolidate and coordinate their workflows. The decision about what tech to use has traditionally resided with IT, but, in 2016, we’ll see in-house marketing and creative teams taking more control of their own destiny. With this newfound power will come the responsibility to deeply understand their workflow needs and diligently vet potential workflow solutions.

Digital Asset Management (DAM) becomes a must-do

The CMO Council found that while two-thirds of the almost 200 senior marketing leaders they surveyed in 2015 felt visual assets were vital to the content they create and share, less than a third had a process in place to manage these assets across their department or between departments. As content production and consumption grows -- a whopping 27M pieces of content are already being shared daily -- formal Digital Asset Management will no longer be optional for teams that want to stoke their content creation engine efficiently.

Word of mouth will be an important purchase driver

The marketing technology space has been growing by almost 100% year-over-year with no signs of slowing down, according to research from Walker Sands. With so many new vendors flooding into the market, cutting through the noise is imperative and the value of peer recommendations and word of mouth as a means of identifying the best solutions for your team’s particular workflow needs will become increasingly important. The caveat being that before you can meet these needs, you need to understand what they are. Savvy in-house creative teams will be prudent about how they rely on word of mouth. Peer reviews are helpful in narrowing the array of vendor options, but playing follow the leader isn’t the smart way to make a definitive purchase decision.

Integrations shouldn’t be underestimated

One of the key features creative teams will have on their marketing tech shopping list in 2016 is a robust set of integrations. According to research from Gartner, companies will spend almost $150B globally on enterprise applications this year, with much of it going to cloud-based software. By 2020, Gartner predicts 60% of companies will rely on cloud-based office systems to manage various functions within their business. In the shorter term, the growth of cloud-based computing and the establishment of cloud-based services such as Dropbox, Adobe Creative Cloud and Slack as essential business applications means that creative teams will be keenly interested in ensuring any workflow solution they invest in will mesh seamlessly with the other software they rely on in their daily work.

Productivity goes under the microscope

Next year, organizations of all sizes will continue to focus on maximizing output with limited resources. As companies implement flexible work arrangements, teleworking, unlimited vacation days and other perks to spur productivity, they’ll also increasingly be relying on data-driven insights to help them do more with less. Expect forward-thinking in-house creative teams to start focusing intently on collecting, analyzing and optimizing measurable metrics of productivity. The quantification of creativity is well underway.

The bottom line

All of the trends we’ve highlighted focus on a common theme. They depend on the empowerment of in-house creatives as drivers of investment, process improvement and increased productivity. Smart teams will pair this empowerment with a commitment to deeply understanding their processes, the needs of their internal and external clients and the changing landscape of their industry. Successful creative teams in 2016 and beyond won’t necessarily be working harder, but they’ll definitely be working smarter.