Ar­chi­tects of growth

Nadim Sa­mara, CEO, OMD UAE

Campaign Middle East - - NEWS -

A ntic­i­pa­tion: the trep­i­da­tion that you feel when you know what is about to hap­pen. The signs are all there and the com­po­nents are all in place. Data is plen­ti­ful, tech is avail­able, tal­ent is ready, you know what to do but you’re not tap­ping the screen just yet. The fin­ger is hov­er­ing just above, while you wait for the sig­nal.

Much has been said about busi­ness trans­for­ma­tion and while it’s clearly the am­bi­tion for many com­pa­nies, there’s a long, and po­ten­tially ar­du­ous, run be­fore they can jump. The fact is, like a bad case of writer’s block, it’s the be­gin­ning that’s the hard­est.

Most of the time, the real prob­lem is the lack of in­ter­nal buy-in and re­sis­tance to change, even if most peo­ple ac­cept that trans­for­ma­tion is in­evitable. Old habits die hard and si­los make com­fort­able homes it seems. This tun­nel vi­sion has be­come a form of pro­tec­tion, preser­va­tion even, and has hin­dered the path to trans­for­ma­tion with sig­nif­i­cant stum­bling blocks.

Just con­sider mar­ket­ing trans­for­ma­tion. It re­lies heav­ily on the col­lec­tion and anal­y­sis of a grow­ing num­ber of data sources, and yet data shar­ing isn’t hap­pen­ing to the ex­tent re­quired. The ring-fenc­ing around de­scrip­tive busi­ness and con­sumer data is un­der­stand­able, but it in­hibits per­for­mance when agency part­ners aren’t given the in­for­ma­tion they need. The very no­tion of col­lab­o­ra­tion and com­mon in­ter­est seems to crash on the solid walls of siloed think­ing.

Too of­ten, com­pa­nies look and feel like a col­lec­tion of de­part­ments that op­er­ate in iso­la­tion from each other. Some­times work­ing with di­ver­gent sub-agen­das, their lim­ited col­lab­o­ra­tion hin­ders the col­lec­tive per­for­mance and that of their ex­ter­nal part­ners. It’s as if mar­ket­ing, sales, IT and an­a­lyt­ics speak dif­fer­ent lan­guages de­spite the com­mon goal they were cre­ated to achieve.

This of­ten leads to agen­cies work­ing with­out the in­put they need to meet the am­bi­tion they share with their clients, which is to de­liver tan­gi­ble and mea­sur­able busi­ness out­comes. Of­ten, in­stead of get­ting ac­cess to mean­ing­ful data from which to work, agen­cies still get par­tial briefs, pre-de­fined bud­gets and static mar­ket­ing cal­en­dars. Flu­id­ity, ac­cu­racy and rel­e­vance have been rel­e­gated to the bench. It’s like fight­ing with your hands be­hind your back.

In­stead of pri­ori­tis­ing it as a way to de­liver higher-re­turn com­mu­ni­ca­tions, many ap­proach mea­sure­ment, data and tech as mere items to tick on a list. To them, it’s an af­ter­thought, a nec­es­sary evil even, when it’s the corner­stone of mod­ern and ef­fec­tive mar­ket­ing. Strate­gies must be built from the ground up, start­ing with a solid data and tech in­fra­struc­ture.

Clearly the mar­ket­ing func­tion is un­der in­tense pres­sure. With ev­ery­thing around mar­ke­teers spin­ning at in­creas­ing ve­loc­i­ties, they need to adapt to numer­ous changes at the same time. Con­sumer ex­pec­ta­tions and be­hav­iours are evolv­ing in front of our eyes. The ways to reach, com­mu­ni­cate and en­gage with them are mu­tat­ing rapidly too. Tra­di­tional for­mu­las are show­ing their lim­its and tech­nol­ogy is evolv­ing from en­hanc­ing hu­man de­ci­sions to re­plac­ing them fully. Sales and mar­ket­ing have al­ways had a some­what tense re­la­tion­ship, and to­day’s CMOs are in­creas­ingly tasked with con­tribut­ing to lead and rev­enue gen­er­a­tion. This new KPI has made their tenure in the C-suite the short­est.

Well, it’s high time to stop run­ning and start jump­ing. The trans­for­ma­tion of mar­ket­ing can be achieved by turn­ing the clien­t­a­gency-part­ner re­la­tion­ship into a tighter part­ner­ship. We’re all bat­ting for the same team and share a com­mon goal: our brands’ growth.

Once this is ac­knowl­edged and for­malised, agen­cies will be em­pow­ered and given the as­sets and ac­cess they need to de­ploy their full hu­man and ma­chine in­tel­li­gence. This needs to be a live re­la­tion­ship, based on agility and re­spon­si­bil­ity. The more we know, the bet­ter de­ci­sions we can make. The bet­ter the data, the faster the de­ci­sions. Mar­ket­ing doesn’t work in iso­la­tion from the rest of the busi­ness and the goal isn’t just growth, but prof­itable growth. There is lit­tle to be gained from keep­ing agen­cies at a dis­tance.

The agency model is also evolv­ing, in terms of its ser­vice of­fer­ing, its tal­ent base and its re­mu­ner­a­tion struc­ture, among many other facets. Ex­posed to all forms of busi­ness trans­for­ma­tion, their clients’, their part­ners’ and their own, agen­cies are fast be­com­ing ex­perts on how to guide, man­age this process and, most im­por­tantly, lever­age the out­puts. It all be­gins by know­ing a client’s busi­ness in­ti­mately, as well as, if not bet­ter than, they do them­selves.

Clients and agen­cies will be bound by a new sin­gu­lar agenda, a new agree­ment if you will, that will see them achieve un­seen lev­els of col­lab­o­ra­tion and out­comes. These will be achieved thanks to new struc­tures, pro­cesses and tech­nolo­gies such as Om­ni­com’s Omni. This plat­form trans­forms the way our teams work, col­lab­o­rate and de­liver value by pro­vid­ing a sin­gle view of the con­sumer from in­sights de­vel­op­ment to au­di­ence build­ing, chan­nel plan­ning, con­tent in­spi­ra­tion and mes­sage distri­bu­tion.

To­gether clients and agen­cies will learn to iden­tify what’s truly sig­nif­i­cant and valu­able from the noise, through data and ad­vanced an­a­lyt­ics. Em­pow­ered by ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, cre­ative tech­nol­ogy and mar­ket­ing au­toma­tion, teams will en­gi­neer and de­ploy per­son­alised con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ences, at scale and across chan­nels, to drive su­pe­rior busi­ness out­comes for clients. With a sin­gle well of in­for­ma­tion, trans­parency will be em­bed­ded in the day-to-day deal­ings across all the plat­forms used and per­for­mance will be the ba­sis of re­mu­ner­a­tion.

There will be some rad­i­cal shifts of fo­cus, from short-term gains to longer-term sus­tain­able growth so­lu­tions or from reach and en­gage­ment to ex­pe­ri­ence and the trans­ac­tional econ­omy. CMOs will trans­form into chief growth of­fi­cers, mov­ing ever closer to busi­ness per­for­mance. Thanks to an in­creas­ingly in­te­grated flow of data, their im­pact will be much eas­ier to as­sess and op­ti­mise. This will see them be­ing bet­ter in­te­grated into their com­pany’s DNA.

The big­gest shift of all will be agen­cies mov­ing up­stream, from man­ag­ing con­sumer com­mu­ni­ca­tions to con­sid­er­ing all as­pects of the prod­uct per­for­mance, from de­vel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion to distri­bu­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence. Their tech­no­log­i­cal skills will ex­pand be­yond adtech and martech into cre­at­ech and viztech to gen­er­ate a higher ful­fil­ment of con­sumer trans­ac­tions with brands.

This trans­for­ma­tion has al­ready be­gun. How long it will take and how far it will go is a mat­ter of imag­i­na­tion but there’s no turn­ing back.

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