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The Digital Pandemic

“Maybe we don't need all the offices that we currently have around the world”…

The pandemic has shown how much work there still is to do within the digital arena. We’re seeing global brands trying to fend off the challenger brands and in turn, the challenger brands live or die with regards to how much risk they’re willing to put into their customer engagement and marketing.

Digital transformation is much further behind than we originally thought, in fact, it is eye-opening. Connecting your workforce to Teams or Zoom isn’t where you should be as a £20 million turnover company let alone £2 billion. We are engaging with companies that have been trying to implement a digital communication framework for eight years, yet when the pandemic appears, so does the huge gulf in digitalisation from where they are to where they should be. Needless to say, on this occasion, it took only eight days to get past the red tape, it wasn’t the CIO, it was the pandemic which has brought these companies into the 21st century. We may be in a crisis but we’re seeing that global brand leaders are really showing their worth by using agencies that have the ability to adapt to this situation and create imaginative content that connects with their audience. From Patient-Centricity to Customer Engagement and User Pathways, these buzzwords dominate the conversations we have with Novartis, AB Foods, Vodafone, General Mills, LG and AstraZeneca, but it boils down to one thing: it’s all about the customer.

We’re seeing communal office workspaces that have been taking the money off new start-ups in the promise of beer at lunch crumble. There is a whole new generation of workforce who really can be left to their own devices (to some degree) and the new era of WFH coming to the forefront of everyone’s lips. Why should I commute into London again when I can sit in my garden in my Zoom shirt? “Maybe we don’t need all the offices that we currently have around the world”, Mondelez’s Dirk van de Put recently said. Maybe he doesn’t, only time will tell, but for now, the virus isn’t going away, small start-ups are still forking out thousands a month on the office space and that team of ten won’t forget that in a hurry once their contract expires. What is the ‘new norm’? I don’t think anyone really knows quite yet, we’re still figuring that out.

It’s essential to keep working on a long-term strategy. The only way for companies to get through this is to have a pipeline of activity that’s shifting and adapting to its surroundings. The project you were promised before lockdown most certainly won’t be on the table now, the funding has moved to another pot but there’s every chance you could still be in with a chance. It’s about grabbing that opportunity with both hands and going that extra mile by truly building relationships; not just practising your smile in the mirror. People buy from people and now that I can see your dog, I like you that much more, I like dogs too.