A Decemberish Thursday 7:15 PM, a few decaffeinated espressos, and a mouthful of Hershey’s kisses as we concluded a decent 2017 and a perplexing 2018…
But there we were, investigating the status quo of our clients’ business across 14 offices and examining the region’s media and technology evolution, when we came to a simple question ‘What if we begin today altering the role of this agency by practicing its future capabilities to solve tomorrow’s challenges?’
Suitably, our road to this transformation took on three driving forces:
Driving an agency’s vision requires a strategy fueled by far-sighted people and an advanced culture.
Altering this agency’s culture requires a movement, not a mandate.
And a successful movement needs mutually conclusive media and transformation enablers.
Presently, most of the markets (MENAT) are anxious for stability during a time of lesser advantage of media spend and ‘the data story’ is still in limbo. Our clients have summoned ‘us all’ to move more aggressively and ensure sounder ROI, while media and technology ‘owners’ continue to anticipate year-on-year growth of investment.
It all made sense as the ‘data, science, talent, business, client, consultancy’ puzzle came together.
Our journey began in December of 2017 as we set out to discover that 82 percent of UM MENA’s digital experts believe that their digital function has spread fast and vastly across their teams and the agency, no longer making their digital specialization as an advantage. Out of these 82 percent, 78 percent believe their purpose to this industry evolves beyond ‘digital’ to ‘executional consultants’ empowered by ‘better’ data, science and measurability across physical, digital, CRM and cognitive innovation.
Also, we assessed the relations between UM and its biggest digital partners, (beyond the volume game), and we were confronted with the outcomes. The verdict was less that 30 percent of our partners delivered custom solutions, while also some scored very high on training and education, what surfaced was the absence of creative use of technology.
On April 8-9, 2018, UM introduced its first edition of ‘Future Forward’, an uncommon engaging format transporting ‘The Transformation of UM as The Agency of The Future’.
This gathered 35 of UM’s MENA ‘Heads of Science’, UM product leads and management and our digital partners for two days. A persistent engaging roundtable format moving the agency beyond commoditization and into a never-ending transformational digital prestige. An actionable preposition to execute a collaborative transformation took its course. This uncommon collaborative format focuses on an actionable agenda towards redefining “The Measurability Game’, ‘Technology for Efficiency’ and ‘Agency versus Consultants’.
“UM’s Future forward event is a one of a kind initiative where the UM instigated us to anticipate and together think about the future of a media agency” – Google
Future Forward’s first summit concluded with these progressive take outs.
1. Redefining Measurability
Partners and UM ensured that new tools and metrics are considerable media measurement game changers. The digital metrics lexicon has shifted from what we have been accustomed to. UM will leverage partner’s technology to create customized tools to evolve the measurement proposition across clients.
As the largest FMCG agency in the MENAT, while holding a vast portfolio of telco clients, we will employ technology and new data streams to derive better measurability as we innovative with ‘new’ market leading solutions. Agreements were made on the use of certain innovation and technology (APIs) to better measure the consumer’s digital and physical worlds.
2. Fostering Agency Strategic Value Over Consultancy
This was an evident topic among Google and UM across the two days. The resolution was concluding with Google that our foundation built on technology, measurement and data will continue to precede the consultants ‘strategic’ value prepositions.
Technology utilization will become more a competitive advantage over consulting firms. We have commissioned our partners to bolster our Heads of Science with the ‘new, & custom made’ best in class intelligence and tools, enabling our client to rethink the ‘consultancy’s value preposition.
3. Pivoting APIs Towards Custom Media Solutions
At the heart of Future Forward’s proposition is developing agency solutions and to deliver accurate performance and measurability to our clients. UM’s solutions will deliver a new level of connectivity between marketing, creative, business and strategic data and technologies.
Challenges on client first party data should stand in the way of our ‘science’ phase. We are adamant to solve this issue by providing a technology roadmap pivoted towards data automation, measurement destined to help our client’s digital organizational transformation.
Future Forward was and will continue to be a collaborative physical and virtual roundtable between UM, Google, Facebook, Snapchat and DMS and more partners with the mission to unlock an actionable memo towards Better Science & Data, Better Technology, Better Cognitive Bespoke Solutions.