Transformation: easy to talk about, harder to do

How confident are you in your organization's ability to navigate into the future?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel at the 4A’s first Agency Transformation Roundtable held in Philadelphia.

I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, no, we’re not going to talk about this again, are we? Not another session/panel/conference/presentation about getting digital, changing processes, reinventing our business. Can’t we just get back to telling stories and making cool shit?”

If only it were that easy. Consider this from Rishad Tobaccowala, someone most people think knows what he’s talking about. Rishad shared the fact that in every conversation he has with senior clients around the world, they all express the same three concerns.

First, they’re worried about making the numbers. Second, they don’t believe their current partners (no matter who they may be) are equipped to lead them into the future. A big part of this is because most agencies have no idea how to work in the new collaborative manner necessary in world where everything is converged. Instead they try to do it all themselves. (Rishad adds that any agency claiming they can do it all themselves if full of shit and their clients know it.) And third, most senior management at clients don’t even believe their own organizations are ready for the future. It appears that people, processes and incentive systems remain rooted in the past.

Now do we need to transform? And help our clients do the same?

Rishad Tobaccowala, chief innovation officer for Publicis

The 4As, which started the conversation at its big annual event in San Francisco, plans to take the roundtable event to a number of markets over the next year, convinced that the havoc being wreaked by the digitization of everything calls for everyone – agencies and clients alike – to restructure what we make and how we make it as we morph from crafting messages that reach to building experiences that engage.

Kudos to them and to everyone willing to participate. Sure talk is cheap, but if the right people are talking and others are actually listening and subsequently acting, perhaps the predictions of the industry’s demise will prove to be greatly exaggerated.