With digital ascendant, the silo mindset has to go

Specialist teams need to meld their talents for the best client outcome

Gulf News

As regional governments continue to ramp up efforts and investments to get their economies less dependent on oil, the digital and tech sector is receiving plenty of positive attention.

The commitment by regional governments to developing their infrastructure or the growing investments in tech startups are fuelling game-changing dynamics in the region; directly boosting the job market and transforming the composition of the labor force in the Mena region.

In other words, tomorrow’s workforce will be digital natives.

For somebody who has witnessed such unprecedented growth of the industry over the last decade, these are promising times for us.

We are buzzing with positivity; the industry is seeing a plethora of events dedicated to supporting the shift to a digital-first mindset. While one running theme in all of these is the need for innovation and creativity, having participated in the majority of these, it’s starting to sound like a broken record.

It doesn’t make it any less true though… and while there is no magic formula to achieve it, purposeful innovation in marketing communications requires a fundamental shift in the way we instill creativity. I believe that there are three key elements to this shift.

The first is a commitment from marketers to require and allow their agency partners to collaborate, rather than compete, on innovative solutions. As their expectations and budgets for digital increase, so does the number of partners involved grows too, all vying for a place at the table and the largest possible role.

While there is a benefit in broadening the source of ideas and expertise, the downside is that the rationale for the innovation is more self-interest than the relevance and value to the brand.

While there is nothing wrong in embracing multiple partners, the different teams must have clear roles from the get-go and follow a collaborative engagement framework set out — and led — by the brand’s team.

Opportunities to consolidate or synergise disciplines, such as media with content and other specialist services, including data management and CRM, can’t be overlooked as they ease both the decision-making process and the implementation of these decisions.

In short, today, an idea can come from anywhere. Its implementation, however, requires an institutionalised approach to bringing the right talent together, implementing the right processes and delivering work which links creativity to business output.

The second element is fostering a culture of creativity, which is key to sustained success. Historically, the business was straightforward.

Media agencies were tasked with the production of an effective media activation plan while advertising agencies were expected to push the needle on creativity and communication direction. With the access to data and insights that media agencies have and the changing client needs, the tables have now turned.

The third element is the changing role of marketers. Looking at media alone, if they were once expected to run a few TV ads or a couple of billboard campaigns, today they need to master content development, e-commerce and digital data management.

Technology has forever changed how we build relationships between brands and consumers and how brands nurture those relationships beyond just offering a product or a service.

Hence, today’s marketer must build ‘digital-ready’ teams, streamline processes and be willing to share data with partners to generate new demand and stimulate greater desire, as it’s the way to fuel business growth and increase revenues.

In a nutshell, whatever powers the future of marketing, be it technology, content or data, we must step away from the silo mindset that hinders innovation and create new levels of collaboration between marketing communication partners.

The ones who achieve this will quickly move up the value chain.

The writer is OMD’s Executive Director — Integrated Solutions.