I dropped art class as soon as my school allowed it. I don’t paint, draw, photograph or knit. I’ve always been drawn to maths and sciences. And yet, I consider myself and my work to be highly creative.
There’s a common perception that STEM majors and occupations are the polar opposite of creative pursuits, given the STEM world’s reliance on systematic, procedural, quantitative, and analytical thinking. And yet, the reality of working with engineers, developers, and data scientists belies this perception, because we solve problems by applying code and data.
Now here’s another thing you need to know about engineers and developers… we don’t like routine or repetition — and that’s a good thing. This frees up our time to develop novel solutions to unsolved problems. We pay less attention to finding the right answers and, instead, aim to ask the right questions. All this, in turn, allows us to be playful and intellectually courageous; to think of those crazy, “wouldn’t it be cool if we did this?” ideas in new areas and domains.
In short, to be creative.
This brings me to Neon’s CMA award-winning Martech work for our partner, Jima. As a brand-new cannabis retailer entering a young industry, Jima needed to quickly and efficiently identify the right locations for its cannabis retail stores, at a time when retail and consumer behaviour was heavily impacted by the pandemic.
New company? Young industry? An industry not known for data-driven products and solutions? Quick and efficient? Sounds like the right ingredients for a creative solution.
We asked ourselves: what if, instead of approaching this problem with assumptions and gut feelings about what makes for a good retail location, we let consumers’ feet vote instead? What if we could use big, digital, anonymized mobility data and machine learning to both discover who our target customers are and what locations would best serve them (and have the highest likelihood of success)?
And that’s exactly what we did. By thinking strategically about our partner’s needs and developing a novel, creative solution, we helped to launch Jima’s business to great success. We’re proud to say that we were awarded for this work, too — proving that you don’t need to be a Creative to be creative.