Electronics giant Philips has opened a digital command centre in Singapore that the company says will enable it to communicate with consumers in real time across the region, reports Mumbrella Asia. Called the ‘Conversation Engine, the unit will be staffed by 40 people – including staff from roster agencies - on Philips’ premises in Toa Payoh to handle search, social strategy, data analysis and media buying and planning. The company aims to produce a mixture of long-form, short-form and “daily” content that supports its ‘Innovation and you’ proposition, and its brand purpose of “improving the lives of three billion people a year by 2025.” Damien Cummings, who is eight months into his role as Philips’ VP and CMO for ASEAN and Pacific, told Mumbrella that Philips would not be using the command centre purely to react to trending topics, such as Nissan’s recent responses to the Royal Baby news and Apple’s #AppleLive launch event this week. “While Oreo, Apple and Nissan are interesting case studies, I don’t believe they are necessarily great marketing,” Cummings said. “With Philips, we will not follow, we will lead. You won’t see us jumping on a hashtag trend,” he said. Even so, while between 50-70 per cent of content produced by the command centre will be planned and scheduled, 30-50 per cent of content will be “reactive”, Cummings said. Staff from Ogilvy & Mather will sit in the centre to aid production and creative, Carat will handle media, PR will be by OneVoice and Havas Media tasked with search. “We want people to throw their business cards away at the door, as we create teams around five key themes - aging well, connected workspaces, smart home, ‘look good, feel good’ and clean air,” Cummings said. The command centre will look to take lessons learned from in-house marketing models that have not worked, such as WPP and Dell, where Cummings worked as online director for Asia Pacific and Japan in 2010, before he moved to Samsung. In-house agency models have failed partly because they did not attract strong talent who did not want to work full-time on one client. To remedy this, agency staff will be asked to work for no more than one to three days a week in the command centre, and then rotated, the CMO said. Cummings said that the command centre would work out “net neutral” in terms of its impact on the company’s marketing spend, and would reduce cost over the long term. The centre is currently in test phase, and may be rolled out to other parts of the region over the next year. “This is the way marketing will be done in the future, and the way agencies will be set up in the future,” Cummings said. As part of its content and engagement strategy, the company is partnering with LinkedIn to make use of the 11,000 Philips employees who use the business social network. The company plans to, in partnership with its PR agency FleishmanHillard, re-write employees’ LinkedIn profiles to a “power profile” level, encourage them to connect with the influencers Philips wants to talk to, and then distribute content generated from the command centre through its staff on LinkedIn. The approach, which works on an opt-in basis, will begin with senior executives, then thought leaders, sales staff and eventually the whole company, Cummings explained. “It won’t become a social selling tool, but we want to use social as PR vehicle to communicate brand messages,” he said.