Big Q Consultancies: Problems used to be more one-dimensional
by MarkLives (@marklives) What may the broader agency and marketing community learn from the rise of non-traditional firms now operating in the advertising agency space? What processes and practices are giving these firms an edge, and to what would the rise of these players be attributed, in spite of the best integration efforts by the traditional agency networks? We asked a panel of key industry executives for their take. Next up is Wayne Hull of Accenture Digital.
Large consulting and technology firms such as IBM, Deloitte and Accenture have moved definitively into the digital-marketing-and-communications space ad agencies once hoped to dominate themselves. In the UK, IBM iX, Accenture Interactive, BAE Systems and Deloitte Digital UK already rank in the top five interactive agencies based on revenue; Accenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital, was named the world’s largest digital agency network by AdAge last year.
Wayne Hull is the recently appointed managing director of Accenture Digital for South and sub-Saharan Africa. He has returned to South Africa after spending 13 years in the Middle East, Pakistan and Switzerland, where he was at the forefront of the cutting-edge technology in the areas of internet of things (IoT), data analytics and online media. Prior to joining Accenture, he was the digital advisor for Sportradar Global and held a number of senior positions, including board member and global SVP for AGT International, director and GM for Cisco in the Middle East and Pakistan, and headed up the Technology Group and Financial Services Consulting practices at IBM Southern Africa.
In the world we used to live in, marketing and communications problems and opportunities were far more one-dimensional than they are now. So, if you had a creative problem, you went to a creative agency. A process problem? You’d go to a consulting agency. A writing problem? You’d go to a copywriter. And, if you had a technology problem, you’d go to a tech company or a systems integrator.
In today’s digital world, all these things are integrated and, to solve problems or take advantage of opportunities, the people around the table require a range of capabilities. You need technologists, consultants, storytellers, copywriters, creative people, entrepreneurs, data scientists to make sense of it all, and to have all these capabilities in-house is very rare.
Accenture Digital has, through a process of careful expansion and strategic acquisition, augmented its existing consulting and technology capabilities with the skills at creative agencies, and expanded its staff base to include copywriting, creative directing and brand experience specialists. In this way, we are able not just to imagine and create but also to deliver. From creating PowerPoint slides to ideating, imagining, designing, building the business model, putting it in place, running it, gauging the experience of the platform and making sure it gets better, we are there for the duration of the operation.
On the campaign-side, consultancies understand how to address the inefficiencies in digital processes and budgets. Sending all your customers an email campaign about the fact that you have a blue suit on special this month is not very effective. Sending a person who paid off her Audi two years ago an update on a new financing programme that could be interesting to her is wasting her time. Consulting firms have the competence to apply the technology to make campaigns more efficient and touchpoints far more hyper-personalised.
Accenture Digital has been building capability so that we can service the market in South Africa, where we see the digital marketing opportunity to be over US$1bn. Our existing consulting competence has been enhanced by strategic employment and acquisitions, including Kunstmaan this year — a customer-experience services agency in Belgium — and Karmarama last year, one of the UK’s largest independent agencies, renowned for blending creativity, digital and data to help brands better engage with their customers. In addition, while we are developing our local competency to service the SA market, a combination of exceptional home-grown talent and the favourable exchange rate means that we are also in a position to offshore our services to markets such as the Middle East, Turkey and possibly Europe.
It is for these reasons that large consulting firms are topping the quadrants in the digital marketing and communications space.
- Big Q Consultancies: You have to understand the context of clients — Heidi Custers
- Big Q: Agencies, consultancies have much to learn from each other — Prakash Patel
- Big Q: Can ad agencies take on the consultancies? — Jerry Mpufane
Launched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the ad industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of potential panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.