What will it take to re-imagining the modern communications agency model to leverage digital transformation?

That sounds like quite a tall order.

I believe the simple recipe of PPT with a healthy sprinkle of E is what will work.

People, Process, Technology and lots of Enthusiasm… PPT&E.

I asked a client that we had presented to recently what they thought of our pitch. The answer I got “the ease with which the team thought on its feet about digital ideas, tells me they are really comfortable playing in this space”. Two really important things stand out for me in this comment. One digital is not their second language, they think digital first and then translate into other languages. Two, they are having fun.

This is what it takes to deliver digital delight. It needs to be your first language and you need to really enjoy speaking it. The problem most agencies are grappling with is how to get the analogue world to tango with the digital world, because the two intersect. It’s one big playground and the modern communications agency needs to be able to toggle effortlessly between these worlds.

People and Process: Agencies need to stop only hiring “people like us” we need to definitely create tribes but we need to broaden the gene pool. If data is the new oil, then we need ‘oil seekers’. If good old fashioned service is becoming difficult to come by then we need to hire people who are ‘care givers’

At Weber Shandwick, our version of building the right process ecosystem to deliver what clients value is called VBC or Value Based Communities. The four communities of talent are Insights, Content, Integrated Media, Client Experience. Ensuring that we have the right people mix serving clients is critical to being able to meet their evolving needs.

So find out what your clients want and build a process that brings in the right people. The importance of the community based approach is that it enables us to build tribes of “people like us” we can share, learn, ideate and grow because the pool is large enough. We don’t have purple patches of brilliance, but purple pools.

Technology: Once you have the right talent pool in place technology needs to enable them to collaborate effortlessly across geographies. Hardware and software decisions need to be centrally made to ensure that you get the best deals and have the best assets to serve customers. For example create a centralised data analytics team that studies what would be most valuable for your client base, then find ways to bring synergies to the table, get best prices and also find ways to combine different generic offerings to offer a unique point of view. Build your own dashboard to navigate this new world.

The E factor: Change is never easy. My biggest learning however is that the PPT part is the easy part. Keeping the ‘E’ factor high and ‘always on’ is the tough act. How to ensure the Enthusiasm is contagious and continuous is where the real hard work begins. You can build the agency of the future but your people have to embrace it. This is where the enthusiasm comes in. If your people have been co-opted into being part of the journey. If they are brimming with ideas on how to make the transformation happen, then they are in the driver’s seat, having fun. Do that right and all you need to do is make sure there is enough gas in the tank and the space ship is pointing in the right direction. Enjoy the flight.