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Coronavirus Digital Transformation Festival Technology

R/GA's Sean Lyons: 'Accessing talent in unusual places will be a lasting trend'


By Ellen Ormesher, Senior Reporter

April 15, 2020 | 4 min read

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the term digital transformation has taken on new meaning. No longer just an industry buzzword, it has become a necessity for individuals and businesses around the world.

Sean Lyons RGA

R/GA's Sean Lyons: "I see accessing talent in places where we may not be as a lasting trend" / R/GA

However, Sean Lyons, global chief exec of R/GA believes this rapid-fire response to transformation bodes well for the future of business in a post-lockdown world.

Speaking at The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival, he said:

“When it comes to digital transformation, those are big fancy words - words that will be used in a business context but are really about how willing a client is to change. [Our job is to ask] how we help them change, but more importantly how fast can they change.

For us, digital transformation is really about embracing technology and using it to create new things, as opposed to fighting it or using it as a cost centre.

If you look at the current moment and how quickly schools have shifted to learning remotes, or businesses have shifted to working remotely…I’m hopeful that some of that will have a lasting impact on clients who will now see that they can adapt and change quite rapidly.”

Lyons told The Drum that he was also heartened to see how digital transformation in the workplace might open up new opportunities for recruitment in the future:

“I think a lot of people get hung up on having everybody in the office every day at the right time, but there's incredible talent across the world across the country in the US particularly that we can tap into."

"I see accessing talent in places where we may not be as a lasting trend."

Lyons did express concerns, however, that digital transformation should not be seen as a quick fix solution – but something that is built into the fabric of companies who are planning for the future.

“You market a product or service, especially a digital one quite differently to how you would market a brand. [For example], how do you put this into its language, how do you put the need to transform and the need to build these new things into the language of the company.

It's not [a case of agencies] just designing them on paper, and leaving.”

When asked about what developments in digital he was excited about seeing in the future, Lyons highlighted AI as the next big area for innovation in the future:

“AI is impacting how we work together…how we work as a company, and the way we are producing great things.

…How it can improve and impact what the consumer is doing, I think is the real lesson. Everybody’s interacting with [AI] every day through algorithms whenever they use news feeds and the social platforms that are all using this technology.

[In the the future], I think there will be more creative, more consumer-driven ways for that to be expressed.”

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