We take a look at the processes and technologies agencies are adopting to meet the changing needs of both clients and staff.
“Agency Processes” has become something of a buzzword in recent years. In a recent webinar, Helen Johnson, MD of Tangram shared how agency processes are developing and what it means for agency technology.
The last year has had an impact on everyone in business around the world. COVID has changed everything. All that we took as normal has been altered, probably permanently. Technology has changed us all, and we, in turn, are changing technology. But what of the practical pros and cons?
Development of Agency Processes Over the Last Decade
Over the last decade, there have been a plethora of newspaper and magazine articles. Most state that technologies need to change and need to change quickly. AI, of course, is developing rapidly. There is no doubt that in the future we will rely more heavily on this type of technology. AI is a benefit, of course, but it will also be seen as a threat, especially to agencies that rely heavily on executional revenue streams.
The 3 Biggest Changes In Advertising Agency Processes
Over the last five years, there have been huge developments and changes within the world of advertising. Let’s look at three changes that our industry has seen.
1. The Death of the Department
72% of all brands still feel strongly that agencies and processes need to change*. This change in mindset is, of course, because deliverables are changing across the board. Concerning deliverables, a 2019 survey by YouAppi found that 68% of agencies have shifted the focus to data, metrics, and analysis.
2. The Work We Do
Agencies are moving their emphasis from customer experience strategies (CX) to business experience strategies (BX). The results have been remarkable. In a report by Accenture Interactive, it was found that leaders who adopt BX strategies are outperforming those who don’t by a factor of more than six. It seems that the more holistic approach by BX is beneficial.
The agencies that are successfully adopting these approaches are reaping rich rewards. By keeping an open mind, and adopting this more holistic approach, agencies of all shapes and sizes are benefitting. People need to be more agile and cross-functional in their work. There has been a definite move away from vertical structures toward horizontal structures.
3. Business Experience Strategies
In recent years there has been an increase in systemic self-evaluation. Businesses are looking honestly at how they operate and what tasks are necessary to develop business growth and optimize their businesses for the future. These developments have been growing steadily for the last decade.
Collectively these changes have meant that we are seeing agencies reorganizing, restructuring, and simplifying their operations; this is happening across the board, from major players to small agencies.
Then Along Came 2020
Like no year before it, 2020 saw monumental changes in the world of business and certainly within advertising. Agency processes that had worked fine for years suddenly seemed old and tired. This technology fatigue came partly as a direct result of the effects of Covid-19. The balance between time spent at computer consoles and time spent in face-to-face meetings shifted exponentially. However, some of the change came about due to the sheer increase in the volume of platforms.
Resource planning became more important than ever before. The number of people reporting burn-out was higher than at any time in our history. We are social beings; it is in our DNA, and to suddenly have to adopt a solitary life operating in a bubble has, for many, not been easy. Those casual conversations over coffee have disappeared and have had to be replaced by planned online meetings, which lose spontaneity and take more time.
Collaboration, Engagement & Data
The way we collaborate has caused challenges. Around 20% of all companies are reporting that they will not be returning to office-based working. At the same time, USA Today reported that 30% of professionals have said that they would quit rather than return to office-based working. It would seem that many people have found their feet concerning collaboration.
How do we still grow and make our people feel part of the team as we working remotely? This challenge needs to be met, and there are still solutions that need to be put in place.
Then, of course, there is the issue of data. The last year has taught us how valuable data is. It is imperative for resource planning that we have accurate data at our fingertips at all times. When planning meetings online, we must ensure that all the relevant data is ready to show in advance.
The Future for Agency Processes
Forrester produced an excellent study on the way forward for agency processes. Looking at AI and Automation, they estimate that 11% of all digital and creative agency tasks will be automated by 2023. We have to prepare for these developments. The role of the chief people officer will become more important in the coming years. Positive action to ensure we are employing the right people in the right positions is needed.
We have to free creativity from legacy structures. There is an enormous pool of talent on the market now. Many of these people will be responsible for new start-ups and new ideas. They need to be unshackled by legacy structures. Here at Tangram, we believe that moving forward, structures, people, and technology will be key.
The focus on your core strengths will be important, as long as people adopt an open mind to new ideas. Historically, as Tangram has worked with companies, the requirement falls into three areas.
1: Customer relationship management will always be good for driving revenue, helping deliver for customers and maintain client retention.
2: Delivery platforms are, of course, essential. No agency can operate without having a delivery platform or a process in place.
3: Enterprise resource planning and financial platforms are not news to anyone. These are core platforms for managing financials etc.
The Bigger Picture
While much of this is not new to most people, the sheer volume of Apps on the market is staggering. In 2021 we know that there will be even more. There are about 37 platforms on the market today to help agencies run their businesses. Five to ten years ago, technology was outsourced, but we are finding today that more and more agencies are taking this in-house.
There are many tools for moving data between your agency platforms. The introduction of these tolls has been one of the biggest changes in the industry, and we are predicting that it will continue to move in this direction over the next decade.
Talent Management in the Future
When looking at BX moving forward, company structure will be a major focus on agency processes. Just about everything that we have researched points to this. We need processes in place to be the foundation of all future technology developments; this will ensure the systemic streamlining of your business.
Talent solutions need to be fully integrated as a key part of agency strategy. The technology that you select will play a large role in driving this forward. Business Intelligence, the automation of platforms, and talent focussed platforms will be the driving force. Tangram predicts that this approach will be the way to go for ambitious agencies.
When choosing vendors, it is becoming increasingly important that they understand where agencies are heading. They must build a roadmap for the next decade. Vendors need to understand what agencies will look like in 2030. Are they collaborating with industry bodies that will help support their roadmap? Finally, talent retention is crucial. Technology vendors need to understand and have a retention strategy for their talent.