Agencies failing to keep up with change: The Knowledge Engineers

SPIKES ASIA - Consumer change is outpacing agencies, new tech skills are required and organisation culture is a hindrance to change and innovation Niall McKinney, founder and CEO of the Knowledge Engineers said at the outset of a session on how agencies need to evolve.

Niall McKinney
Niall McKinney

McKinney highlighted findings from the Digital Talent Survey, a study conducted by the company, revealing that only 25 per cent of people in Asia feel confident that their organisation is ready for the digital challenge.

Furthermore, mobile advertising is growing quickly in the region but is unable to keep up with consumer behaviour. Many felt the biggest barriers to change were commitment from senior management, no clear role for digital and a lack of integrated thinking.

McKinney was joined on the Spikes Asia 2014 stage by Sean O’Brien, CEO, Carat Asia-Pacific, Aseem Puri, senior director of marketing, Fabric Cleaning Asia for Unilever and Paul Roebuck, Saatchi & Saatchi’s Singapore and Malaysia CEO.

Unilever’s Puri felt the current agency structure isn’t equipped to create enough "always-on" content. "We have an agency structure that creates masterpieces that take more than six months," he said. "When what we really need is the mindset of a publisher, blogger and journalist."

Local bloggers are setting up hot shops and offering brands these new services and as such the social system has gotten split into 10-15 players. "Bigger agencies don’t have the network to do this efficient. Costs are still too high."

Roebuck agreed that agencies need to change and the reality today is not about reaching the finishing line, but creating a culture that can continue to change and innovate. "That’s something that’s taking agencies a lot of getting used to."

Things are a little different for O’Brien’s Carat, which has been in a state of change for a while now. It is his view that agencies need a flexible an agile structure, attracting talent that is able to work in an environment of controlled chaos. "Often we’re working in an environment where we roughly know where we’re going but don’t know to get there."

This article originally appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific

The following video, created for Campaign Asia-Pacific by Weber Shandwick, contains an interview with Unilever's Aseem Puri: