Naji El-Arifi - Head of Innovation UK
We’re delighted to welcome our new Head of Innovation, Naji-El Arifi, to the Salmon, a Wunderman Commerce Company, team!
We sat down with the tech wizard to find out a little bit more about what makes him tick and what his plans are for his new role at Salmon.
Q: Naji, welcome to the team! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Naji: Thanks! Sure. It’s probably fair to say that I’m a bit of a tech geek, obsessed with all things innovative and creative.
I have previously worked at Samsung, mobile agency Somo and then Nimbletank until I moved in to my new role at Salmon. I’ve done most things tech-related in all my roles, including product marketing, building labs, app development, product management and innovation. I’ve worked with some of the biggest companies in the world including Shop Direct Group, Audi and BP, showing them how mobile and connected devices can solve industry problems.
I regularly organise hackathons and have done in the past for Argos and John Lewis, and I was also the first person in the UK to get Google Glass – something I’m very proud of. I’ve also been to MWC (Mobile World Congress) for the last five years, keeping an eye out for the latest in mobile trends and innovation.
Q: What’s been your biggest success to date?
Naji: I was very honoured to speak at a TEDx Eastend in 2015. I was able to tell the audience about my love for coding and how important it is to learn that skill – if we all work together, we could save energy, money and create a world that is better for everyone.
Q: Can you take us through your plans for Salmon?
Naji: One of my biggest plans for Salmon is the creation of an ‘Experience Lab’. Think of it like a real-life Dexter’s Lab (but slightly smaller!). I want to fill it with as much interesting tech as we can, from the Microsoft HoloLens to the latest in Zero UI (User Interface). But I really want to showcase the lab to our customers as the ‘art of the possible’, where investing in this tech shouldn’t be seen as a future pipedream but a present possibility.
Q: Sounds exciting! When is it ready?
Naji: We hope it will be ready in March sometime. I’m really keen to build a mobile ‘Experience Lab’ as well, where we can travel to our customers and demonstrate an authentic client-relevant experience and how investing in this tech will benefit their ecommerce operations.
Also, I often think that software gets overlooked these days in favour of hardware. While an autonomously-driven car might grab all the headlines, the software that allows it to perform is just as important. Here in the lab, I’d like to showcase all the software that enables the hardware to be cutting-edge.
Q: How do you see the future of ecommerce?
Naji: Very bright. Technology has, and will have, a huge role to play in ecommerce operations, both front end and back end. The rise of augmented reality devices, wearables, Zero UI and automation will change the face of ecommerce in the next few years – and for the better! One of my jobs here is to marry the tech and the industry together, which I’m very excited to do.
Q: How do you come up with creative tech ideas?
Naji: A lot of my time is spent researching on the internet and browsing social media, then just doodling stuff that pops into my head into my notebook. Another way is actually through my friends and exploring and sharing ideas through our WhatsApp group.
Q: And finally, can you tell us something interesting about yourself that we might not have known?
Naji: I try to play a lot of PS4, mainly Destiny, and sometimes during the summer you can find me rollerblading in Hyde Park. I am also a little obsessed with food and even have a spreadsheet with all of the different burger places I have been to, scored and ranked.