I spend lots of time helping brands and agencies cope with the stress of a constantly moving technology landscape. Adapting from broadcast to network communications and the growth of people powered content is a challenge to most organisations out there. I can help people understand what's going on but I know that won't work in isolation. Training's important but to really develop an organisation you need to do far more. Edward Boches has written a great post on this where he identifies five key ingredients required for changing a business:
Pressure from the top
A company-wide vision
An investment of money, time and resources
Actionable steps to be taken
Measures of success
He points out that if you take any one of those 5 away you'll more than likely fail. For years Mullen (his agency) tried to accelerate its digital transformation but only had three or four of the five. They applied pressure, but didn’t have buy-in across the agency. They made investments but weren’t always sure of the specific actionable steps. Eventually they figured it out. Laid out a vision that everyone could buy into; Weeded out the few who wouldn’t. Made investments in people and resources and took specific steps to accelerate change. Moved to Boston, dramatically changed space and redefined the composition of creative teams. And while they’re still not done, it’s been working.
Building on these 5, I think it's worth expanding on 2 areas:
Education. How to keep people informed of what's technically possible? How to get creative teams inspired by the potential of Google/Twitter APIs? People like me can help naturalise teams to the new landscape, behaviours, interesting platforms and tools. But all this changes fast. What I prefer to do is give people a good understanding of the basics and encourage them to be curious for themselves. Of course it's worth building partnerships with other organisations. Outside speakers are great but over time the best approach is blending this with your own people taking on much of the knowledge sharing.
Partnerships. Build relationships with the best tech companies to ensure they come in regularly to inspire your teams (and follow the talks with workshops, get people to apply what they've just seen). Consider loaning office space to interesting tech startups or sponsor them in other ways. Ad agencies and tech companies have complementary skill-sets so they should clearly play nicer together. Agencies aren't great at tech projects and tech startups aren't great at marketing what they do. For me it's a no-brainer. It just makes sense for them to work more closely and try to create a mutually beneficial relationships.
Partnerships are, for me, fundamental to all good businesses in the future. Collaboration is becoming more and more important (both internally and externally). Companies who can create smart, robust ways to work with others (whether it be internal departments, suppliers or customers) will thrive. Those that can't will always struggle.