Agencies need to stop being wedded to the functions and processes of the past if they want to truly transform and serve their clients most effectively in the digital world, according to Ranga Somanathan, CEO of OMG Singapore and Malaysia.
Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific, Somanathan said a key part of his role since becoming CEO in July last year has been organising his teams to get the most out of OMG’s wide-ranging capabilities and reflecting on the agency’s business model.
This means having specialists who collaborate fluidly, rather than sticking to processes that were created in a pre-digital era. “We have great capabilities, awesome IP, and access to best-in-class thinking,” Somanathan said. “The big catalyst is collaboration, coming together to deliver an optimum client experience.”
He gave the example of the so-called ‘sales funnel’, which he said is outdated and “more of a cylinder now” because the process of awareness, consideration, trial and purchase is no longer so linear.
“Sometimes the model collapses—sometimes purchase drives awareness and so on—there are different models,” he explained. “It’s a random set of connections, actions, leading to awareness or advocacy or all of those things.”
Somanathan said the consumer journey is no longer “a relay race, the awareness guy passing the baton to the consideration guy and so on”.
“That’s the behaviour in the industry right now,” he posited. “How do we have an orchestra instead? Someone conducting, with a violinist, a pianist, a cello player and lots of other deep specialists, who are all doing their jobs, but what you hear is harmony. That’s user experience.”
Somanathan readily admitted such a scenario was “the holy grail” and not easily achieved. But the way to go about it was to encourage more specialists and have them work effectively together.
“Right now the industry is moving in a way where they need everyone to do everything,” he said. “But people want to be specialists, they don’t want to do everything. Would you take a surgeon and make them a GP? You need specialists that work as a symphony.”
The greater the collaboration among different specialists, Somanathan said, the better service agencies could provide clients. This is crucial in the digital space, where fighting for consumer engagement becomes increasingly about user experience.
“When we’re playing catch up to earn consumer attention, you’ve got to focus on the user experience journey,” he said. “Experiences are the only things that are going to hold attention. Everything else will be a tool to bring the consumer to the attention and experience space.”