In a survey created and distributed with Penn Schoen Berland, Wunderman found a wide gap between the ability for companies to identify the challenges of digital transformation and the capacity for them to adopt and benefit from technological and creative investments in sales and marketing. In order to be what they called “future-ready,” Wunderman believes that businesses need to embrace a long-term view and not limit themselves to short-term expectations.
Wunderman’s global chief marketing officer Jamie Gutfreund explained the origin of the agency’s call to action. “Two years ago,” she said, “we were getting a lot of questions about what loyalty means. And then it shifted: we were getting every conversation about digital transformation.'How can I use AI?', 'What do I need?', and 'How do I get my task in my day-to-day to work together?' That's our business."
One of the problems that resulted from the constant concern with new technologies was that it often conflicted or interfered with the creative process. The study showed that 68% of companies can’t change their creative based on insights from their data. "It was clear, Gutfreund said, "that a lot of clients were overwhelmed with the broad variety of capabilities that you need to actually be successful."
Wunderman's come up with five key steps for companies in a future struggle: performance, clarity, speed, transparency, and transformation. "We wanted to have a very simple human way [to talk to companies] without a lot of jargon to say 'well, let's just break this to them.'"
Other findings in the study: 73% of the decision-makers say their companies are siloed and 89% of those believe these silos impact their ability to deliver cohesive messaging. Says Gutfreund, the internal makeup of companies and the dismantling of traditional structure is imperative to the outward-facing results. "When you look at the structure of companies today, we've moved from companies that are now what you call 'legacy companies.' They were organized in a militaristic, very top-down, industrial revolution-based pyramid structure."
"We don't live in a world like that anymore" she said. "We live in a networked world. And so what you can see with companies that are brand new, they're built to engage new ideas and are a bit more agile that way. It's easier to have the courageous conversations [with] those kind of organizations and get things done as we think you have to adapt and fail."
"It's been a really interesting journey," she said, "because there's a lot of really smart people out there but what we think is happening is that there's a very reactive culture." With new technological advancements popping up frequently, it became tough for superiors to learn and also find time to pass those learnings to their junior team members. "One of the big steps that we've found is that tt's time marketers stop reacting to change, and start inciting it."
Gutfreund and her team, as part of Wunderman head Mark Read's vision for the agency, hoped the findings can help the companies in various sectors that are figuring out how to be better prepared for what comes next and avoid the way of Blockbuster. "We have to recognize that a lot of our clients are under so much pressure," Gutfreund said, "to deliver results in the short-term way, due to stock prices and pressure."
Even with that pressure, she felt firm in the results and how brands should react to them.
"The brands who'll win today are the ones that understand what their customers want and need delivered to them in a modern way," she said.