Tue, Jun 21, 2016 - Page 12 News List

Made in Taiwan 2.1

The country was once famous for its products, but in the future it may be better known for its services

By Jules Quartly

Sense Media CEO Samuel Hsu at his Neihu office.

Photo: Jules Quartly

A couple of weeks ago I attended a “party event” in Taipei on the say-so of a friend, who is the consultant for a new company, Sense Media. It began with a yo-yo performance and then went blue-screen for some videos about travel. After which, we listened to a presentation from the CEO Samuel Hsu (徐宣煒).

The 43-year-old was in a smart, fitting suit and was obviously an old hand at presentations. He established his credentials as an investment director and marketing man, then set out the blueprint for his company, which started up a year ago. “Dream big! It works,” he said. “The era of content marketing is now!”

Among the assorted “creatives” at The One cafe event on Zhongshan North Road (中山北路) were martial arts experts, writers, film directors and makeup artists. The hope is, they will give the company an edge in the world of marketing.

If you think about many of the world’s most successful companies, they don’t directly provide much more than a digital platform, yet have cornered their markets. At Uber, for example, they don’t have cars, but they do provide taxis for the world’s footloose and fancy free. Apple doesn’t make content like music or film, but it sells a lot of it. The list goes on …

Sense Media is a platform for clients needing public relations or advertising. It does the lot, without the middle man. It peels the layers away and simply connects the client and talent. Need and supply. This means prices are lower, there’s direct communication with the people who produce the work, and therefore more say over the assignment.

This is why Sense Media is being called the “Uber of Marketing.” The company is proudly mobile and lightweight, small and efficient. It’s an example of how Taiwan is upgrading its business environment, after industrialization and the relative stagnation of recent years, by being smart, upstream and innovative. And possibly disruptive.

Certainly, Taiwan needs to find a new niche because the world has changed. We are moving into new territory. While there will likely always be big blue ribbon companies with well remunerated full-time employees, a lot of the job market these days is becoming more fluid. Part-time work, short-term contracts and one-off jobs would appear to be the future for many.

‘GIG ECONOMY’

It’s called the “gig economy,” when temporary is the new permanent. This saves costs, allows the company and client to shop around and keeps the market competitive. It was recently described by president presumptive Hillary Clinton as an “on-demand economy” that was “unleashing innovation.”

Work changes have largely been made possible by the digital revolution, mobile phones and GPS, peer-to-peer exchanges and social networking. And Sense Media is a decidedly digital company. It was around 2010, Hsu says, when everything changed and digital came first.

“I thought I didn’t want to get too old before I die, so I better change what I’m doing,” Hsu says. “If you don’t change, you won’t improve. And you have to keep improving.”

Hsu is a bit of a chameleon, changing according to the landscape. Nearly two decades ago after graduating from Shih Hsin University with a degree in broadcasting and communication, he went into sales for media organizations, like Discovery, Turner Broadcasting and Yahoo. This was the era of the TV advert, bombarding the viewer and using hardcore persuasion.

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