When the dust settles on all the current activity around technology and data, what will be left?
Creativity is the answer. But let us wind back a little.
Creativity is one of the core elements of our Modern Marketing Manifesto. It says "we believe we need creativity just as much as we need technology".
However, most of the energy and activity currently is directed towards data and technology.
At a recent conference Mark Read, CEO of WPP Digital, described WPP as a 'data, marketing and technology company'. No mention of agency, no mention of media or creative.
Indeed WPP recently acquired Salmon, who specialise in ecommerce technology and related services. Large digital agencies likewise are snapping up capabilities around data and technology. LBi acquired web analytics specialists OX2 a few years ago and more recently they bought Sceneric, an ecommerce specialist. PWC purchased digital analytics specialist Logan Tod last year.
Econsultancy recently polled subscribers to find out which digital jobs were most in demand. When asked which role people would most like to recruit for in their teams, data and analytics roles were most in demand (16%) followed by content specialists (14%).
Marketing Week's 2013 salary survey also shows that those with specialist skills around data and insight were least likely to be facing squeezes on salary.
So where is creativity amongst all of this?
As part of Econsultancy's recent Integrated Marketing Week event in New York we surveyed over 1,000 marketers around the world. We wanted to find out how successful these marketers felt they were in integrating online and offline marketing to deliver the joined up (seamless, multichannel, omnichannel, take your pick ) customer experience we all talk about.
There were three notable findings:
- Firstly, those organisations who had fewer issues with internal politics and managed to operate without silos, were much further down the journey towards integrated marketing enlightenment.
No real surprise there, except that it reinforces the point that unless you get the structure, processes and culture right then you are doomed to fail.
- Secondly, the most sophisticated organisations were good with technology. Again, no surprise, and this is why all the agencies and consultancies are piling into the marketing technology space.
- The third point was perhaps most interesting. When asked to rank seven criteria for integrated marketing success, those less advanced organisations put creativity as fifth, so low down their list. But for the sophisticated players creativity jumped to second place.
Econsultancy has just published the Top 100 Digital Agencies guide. Deloitte Digital ranks seventh. Deloitte a digital agency? The same Deloitte who acquired an innovative mobile agency Übermind in the US last year. The same Deloitte who are sponsoring the D&AD awards. D&AD who claim "all creative life is here."
Agencies who used to champion ideas and creativity seem to be chasing data and technology whilst management consultancies and system integrators are becoming agencies with creative credentials? What is going on?
I believe many of us are currently busy trying to sort out our marketing technology, our data, our digital capability in terms of people, skills, processes and culture.
But once we've done that, once we are successfully fracking our data, once the tech dust has settled, what then? We will be looking for creativity at the end of the rainbow. The smartest marketers already know this.
On 10 October this year we will be running an event called Punch, curated by Econsultancy and Marketing Week sister brand Creative Review. We hope to see you there to join the debate.