Learnings from Making Digital Work NY

The end of BDW’s Making Digital Work in New York and a chance to look back over the last couple  of days and our take aways from the workshop. An amazing collection of speakers and great insights. So what have we learnt that we can take home to our agencies?

The model for integration seems clear

Even if Matt Howell from Modernista is humble in saying that their model was only their opinion it seems clear that they have found the way forward – copied by many other agencies since they began the process, it is evident the age of silos is over and digital must be at the core of everything we do. Reducing the number of account people in favour of producers and putting strategy back at the top of the pile. Alessendra Lariu of McCann NY & Scott Pringle of CP&B also backed this up by talking about the new models of creative team that have moved a long way from the AD/CW duo including a creative technologist. The model for tomorrow is idea-centric, whether it is an agency like Modernista, a core group of experience conspirators like Co: or a completely new model like Victors and Spoils, we need to think about people and the business challenge that solves a human problem.

We still don’t have all the answers

Even if the model is clear, we still don’t have all the answers on how this can scale to smaller agencies that can’t afford internal production, or how to make it work when you can’t insist that all hires have some digital skills. The theory is out, but every agency is going to have to define their route in practice. It seems clear that reinventing planning and integrating a creative technologist into the mix are the first steps, but the biggest challenge will be changing attitudes and behaviour of all staff members. As Alessendra Lariu says, changing the organisation is a major challenge and it can’t be done alone – key stakeholders need to understand the new paradigm, and like Modernista be focussed and determined to drive the change unrelentingly.

Strategy & planning are changing

Faris Yakob opened our eyes to major flaws in the planning and market research processes. Digital has changed the entire ecosystem and we need to rethink how we approach strategy in this new era. When we add the new field of propagation planning, as described by Griffin Farley, it is blatantly clear that we need an understanding of both channel and behaviour before we can start to lay down any strategy.

Technology has an enormous part to play (not just in production)

Scott Pringle has us convinced that the creative technologist will probably be the biggest hire this year – bigger than the community manager that we hear so much talk about; If agencies are going to get their act together and start to deliver on real integration then the creative technologist is a key piece to taking the idea to execution. This doesn’t mean that we need to integrate all production, but the knowledge of what can be done, and the work around how it will be done need to be owned by the agency team.

We need to educate everyone (staff & clients)

It’s not enough for us to simply attend these workshops, we need to educate the whole industry and we have to remember that we change attitudes by first changing behaviour – so our focus heading home is how to make this new behaviour take hold. Until everyone can truly understand how the media ecosystem has changed and how our thinking must change to follow we will not be able to win with our clients. We need to find motivational ways to get everyone living in the digital ecosystem.

Partners & collaboration

For agencies moving forward, partners will be key – not only for models like Co: and Victors and Spoils, but also for all those who need to outsource their production. Finding a partner creative technologist who can work with creatives will be key; and beyond this any collaboration between agencies will need to overcome existing financial objectives that make many companies today want to bite off much more than they can really chew (being able to say no to the wrong work will show maturity and experience).

So how are we going to make it work?

  1. Changing behaviour
  2. Building the right teams
  3. Being open to ideas

Check out the posterous blog from the workshop at http://makingdigitalworknyc.posterous.com/


Thanks to agencytwofifteen for the following deck that is a neat little summary of the workshop:

By Lex Bradshaw-Zanger

A digital native and integrated brand marketer with a passion for marketing-communications and product design, Lex has a truly international outlook and experience, having worked both in major marketing agencies and client-side brands across Europe, the US and the Middle East.

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