R/GA believes existing enterprise martech solutions are costly and flawed, and instead has developed a product for clients in which it will handpick a selection of small technology providers from which it can build 'leaner' content or customer-relationship stacks.
The 'Lean Experience Stack' was first developed by R/GA Tokyo for its client Shiseido Professional. The haircare brand was looking to build a recommendation engine for salon stylists to suggest treatments using its products. But enterprise solutions of this scale can cost "US$6 million plus and take 18 months to implement," explains Anthony Baker, R/GA's APAC executive technology director.
Not only are content and CRM solutions like Adobe and Salesforce costly and time resource heavy, they are also "one size fits all", Baker says.
"Most solutions will try to sell you the house—the model that is already built. The way we build the solutions is like Lego: All pieces can connect to each other," he tells Campaign Asia-Pacific. "When you move away from enterprise, you find a lot of innovation comes from startups in different parts of the world. Whether it's headless content-management systems, computer-vision platforms, serverless cloud—these are platforms that allow you to react in real-time to customer behaviours."
R/GA's approach is to select a handful of smaller, specialist content- and asset-management providers that allow a client to easily build and scale a solution as they see fit. The agency also consolidated Shiseido Professional’s content and asset library across the region into a new platform that enabled content to be edited and published in any location.
Some of the technology providers that R/GA selected include headless content-management platforms Contentful and Prismic.io, cloud-based image and video management service Cloudinary, computer-vision platform Clarify, and cloud providers including AWS.
This not only allows for faster implementation, but also cuts a lot of operational cost, because many of these technology providers operate on a pay-on-demand model, whereby the client only ever pays for what they use.
“With trends evolving rapidly in the beauty industry, we needed a nimble, connected platform to stay in the forefront of these shifts,” stated Claudia Kim, vice president and global brand director, Shiseido Professional. “R/GA built an agile ecosystem that powered our digital innovation platform, enabling thousands of our stylists to create beauty and express themselves in the work they do—faster and more seamlessly.”
Now R/GA wants to take this approach to other clients. Baker will drive the offering throughout the region.
"What most companies need is a thin integration layer, to take these new solutions and stitch them together in a very bespoke layer to what they need," he says.
Baker asserts this approach is "not a replacement to enterprise solutions", and that R/GA can integrate with a client's existing enterprise platforms and add on additional partners where it sees gaps.
While the concept of leaner technology stacks is not new, Baker believes it is still "rare" to find agency or consultancy partners that can operate in a fast, flexible way.
"There is still the concept that it is going to take two years to implement a solution," he says.