We were clearing out a cupboard at work last month and found some photos from when the business was just getting started over 20 years ago. A few faces from the photos are still with the agency today and they told me about the days when desks were for writing not typing on, when efficient secretaries kept everything running smoothly, the whole place reeked of fags and 3 hour boozy lunches were not exactly unusual…
Looking back at the pics (apart from noticing how tidy everything looks), it struck me that it was another great reminder of how nothing stands still, however much you want it to.
If you’d told the account handlers in the photo that the focus of their business would have shifted away from all things advertising towards digital and below the line, that the headcount would have exploded (while the space-per-desk exponentially reduced) and that we’d have enough computer power in the building to launch a space shuttle – about 200 times over, they might have been sceptical.
But for me the most interesting thing is that the agency model and the communications industry itself is still changing. Companies and industries can’t stand still, if they don’t keep moving forward they will inevitably start slipping back. Technology (particularly the online side of things) is moving so fast that its virtually impossible to predict what an ‘agency’ will look like in ten years time, or even five.
Planning as a discipline has also changed massively in the ten years I’ve been involved, mainly due to the volume and quality of information we now have online at our fingertips. It has also got better known, hopefully more understood and thanks to the web, better connected. The big question is, with all of this change and refocusing, what will the future role of Planning look like?