Back from the first UK imedia conference where, amongst other highlights, I met with Malcolm Gluck of Superplonk fame at a wine tasting session with a gaggle of Britain’s brightest digerati. He is a marvellously unreconstructed presenter, and top tipple tips flowed easily all round fuelled by the Co-op’s finest fiver a bottle Sauvignon. No longer should the rich and famous worry about the price of a pint of milk, rather they should be able to tell a fruity Yarumba Pinot Grigio is only £6.99 in 700 stores across the land.
Matt Mayes’ opening sermon on the inheritors of the digital earth went down rather well too. I think these events are great to catch up with the latest thinking from our peers, and am pleased to report that we are pretty well up there with it here in London. The usual themes apply – how to organise for the future, who is organised today (not very many shops btw), new agency business models (good natter with Johnny from Anomaly), talent, behavioural targeting, consumer centricity versus brand centricity – and as always, a plethora of kind modern sponsors from Vibrant Media to Phorm looking to link up with media decision makers and influencers.
One hot topic was the discussion on talent in our industry. We’ve often said that there is a missing generation in the digital world (from the dot com days when nobody was hired or trained) and we read evidence of the talent shortage in Forrester, Forbes and the FT. One could argue the talent shortage is also evidenced in rather a lot of crap work out there, but we clearly operate in a market where demand far outstrips supply. Every agency will (or should) have its own strategy for talent development and retention, and the connectedness of today’s workforce though professional social networks means we need to consider the experience potential (and former) employees are prepared to comment on when it comes to recommending this agency over that one to their colleagues.
There was interesting discussion over outmoded work culture models (are the dinosaurs giving birth to baby dinosaurs?) and role models for people entering the industry today. (Work 2.0 – what does this mean to you?) We need to celebrate and empower more, mentor more, and provide opportunity for our own people to participate in the future of the business. We remain a singularly people based business, and if we believe our people trust us to guide their futures, we have to provide opportunity for them to help shape the strategy, products and services we put in front of Clients. We’d like to do more of that here. I don’t think we’ve got everything right by any stretch, but we’re prepared to try.