In this opinion piece, M&C Saatchi’s managing partner and Commbank head, Mim Haysom, writes that ‘transformation’ has become the industry buzzword for 2015. And if you have no idea what that means, here she attempts to explain it and how to benefit from it too…
Keeping the clients up at night: How do we properly use all this data?
It’s a word that constantly comes up in conversations with clients. They talk about their need to transform from organisations constantly trying to grapple with data to ones that make seamless decisions based on it. They struggle with how they should change their current business practices, structures and processes to enable the mining of golden insights from the great mountains of data that are piling up around them.
Keeping the platform providers up at night: When are organisations going to learn to engage with data?
Transformation was also the most frequently used word I encountered during a recent trip to Silicon Valley, where I spent time at the HQs of big media and platform providers. All of who are challenging clients to step up and learn to engage with data and become better data-driven decision makers, or suffer their own ‘Kodak moment’ consequences.
So where does that leave agencies?
We agencies are grappling too – because Google and their all-pervasive ‘what we can tell you about anything’ or Facebook and their ‘what we know about you’ capabilities have forced us to re-think just about every rule in our playbook too. Those glorious days of publish and pray are long gone.
Agencies aren’t run by laggards – we get it
Good agencies have been innovating, changing and quietly transforming on a daily basis since their inception. Twenty five years ago we still had bromides, 20 years ago digital was a watch that didn’t have hands, and 10 years ago social media was those great parties the mag reps threw. Now the smart agencies acknowledge that life is pretty much lived in digital and social galaxies, and some of us even have innovation labs that are prototyping and inventing products and services that are quite literally changing the world. An example I’m close to is Tricky Jigsaw, M&C Saatchi Group’s innovation hub that’s responsible for ideating and iterating new products and services for clients. One outcome was Optus Clever buoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv5b4jwABiw – a world-first shark detection device taken to proof of concept and well on its way to commercial viability. It detects the presence of a shark by its movement and then sends a message to the lifeguard tower via a signal sent via the Optus network. Not something you would typically associate with an advertising agency.
The transformation towards a data-driven culture starts at the top
Leadership in this ‘new world’ is everything. Transformation can only successfully take place if the people resistant to change are not in leadership or influencer roles. Leaders need to drive an ‘action all stations’ approach that permeates through all areas of the business. We need to enable our people to be actively engaged in the process of transforming rather than having just the structures and processes around them change.
Successful transformation requires a ‘bloody minded’ focus on talent.
Getting the talent matrix right will set agencies apart in the ability to not only transform their own businesses, but is necessary to lead clients across the new frontier – that’s why they hire us. They expect us to develop and hire data scientists, cutting edge programmers and other ‘talent’ who trade daily in the rapidly evolving ‘currencies’ of the digital economy and are fluent in its language.
Most of our clients aren’t looking to remove us from their world. They are asking us to go on their journey of transformation with them. To help them make sense of the data they have, and to make it personal. That means looking beyond our own industry to find our ‘smart creatives’ and future stars.
The end game is always to build stronger brands that customers love and become willing advocates of. For that, we still need brilliant creativity that joins the dots and makes the leaps to connect on an emotional and personal level. That will continue to be the responsibility of agencies in the ‘transformation’ era. The data will help us get there, but it will be our talent and our creativity that provides the magic.