SYDNEY: Optus, one of Australia's biggest telco brands, is encouraging teams to take "calculated risks" to drive innovation in a traditional but highly competitive category, according to a senior marketer at the company.

That is because a fear of failure often stifles innovation, according to Peter Macgregor, Digital Customer Engagement & Communications Director at Optus.

"If you have people who fear doing something, they are going to do what they know and know what works, which isn't necessarily a good thing. If you do what you know works, you're not trying to push yourself that little bit further," he said at Mumbrella360 in Sydney recently.

(For more on the company's calculated risk approach to innovation, read WARC's exclusive report: Optus strives for innovation in telco marketing.)

Macgregor said that testing on small groups of customers when going to scale offers one way to manage risk while trying new ideas.

"We'll actually try a whole bunch of multivariate testing on some really small segments to try and find what gets the best engagement rate before going to scale. But you've got to put those processes in place and allow people to run with it," he said.

"Fail with the right amount of risk, and then use those learnings to then go scale up. Especially for a marketer, I think that's really important to have a calculated risk around it. You need to trial, test, learn…for us, it's test and learn in small areas and then go to scale with the learnings from that."

However, Macgregor acknowledged that adapting quickly is "easier said than done" for a large company.

"If your market is changing just as quick as you are, you're standing still," he said. "You still need your operating plans and your vision, so really setting where you need to go. But as a part of doing that, you need to plan to be able to pivot and move…you've got to get the right people, process, and culture in place."

Data sourced from WARC