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Three quarters of marcoms execs believe their organisation is not ‘digital ready’

Niall McKinney, Aseem Puri, Sean O'Brien, Paul Roebuck

Niall McKinney, Aseem Puri, Sean O’Brien, Paul Roebuck

Three quarters of client, agency and media owner executives in Asia do not feel confident that their organisation is prepared for the challenges digital technology poses for the industry, according to survey by The Knowledge Engineers.

The research, presented at the Spikes Asia conference in Singapore today by TKE’s Niall McKinney, found that a lack of leadership in driving the digital agenda was the biggest issue holding the industry back, followed by a lack of technical skills.

The study, which was based on a survey of 8,200 industry people, was followed by a panel debate featuring Sean O’Brien, the APAC boss of media agency Carat, the outgoing Singapore and Malaysia boss of Saatchi & Saatchi Paul Roebuck, and Unilever’s senior director of marketing, fabric cleaning Asia.

O’Brien said that media agencies have gone through more change than any other communications discipline, driven by consumers and technology.

“Google and Facebook have taken over our world,” he said. “We’ve been in a state of constant change for a long time. It’s when change is quicker than you can keep up with [that it becomes a problem].”

O’Brien referred to his agency’s role in client Philips’ regional digital command centre, the Conversation Engine as how agencies were now trying to keep up with consumers in real time.

“The Conversation Engine is about answering the question of how we respond in real time. But as a media agency we can’t do that on our own. It has to be a collaboration between multiple partners.”

O’Brien said that the continual fragmentation and consolidation of the agency world has meant big problems in terms of retaining the top talent needed to keep up with changes in technology and consumers.

“When you acquire a business, keeping the talent back in the room is critical. When you buy, often you lose people. But you need to keep the people who are at the vanguard. Some companies – mentioning no names – are very poor at keeping people. They buy [a company] and then they lose the people who should be kept at the core of the agency.”

On trying to keep up with technology and the changing habits of consumers, Saatchi & Saatchi’s Paul Roebuck said: “There is no destination. The consumer will always be ahead. The reality today is not about a finishing point, it’s about creating a culture that can continue to change and innovate.”

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