Neil Perkin has been doing a series of ‘Future Trends in Digital Marketing Innovation Briefings’ for Econsultancy and the roadshow hit Leeds last Thursday. Some of the things Neil talked about included Networked Enterprises and Innovation within companies. In fact it seems to me that the two are pretty much interconnected.
The days of organisations when everyone who adds value is a full time employee are fast disappearing – and for good reasons. Flexibility is an obvious one, offering the ability to pull trusted specialists in only for as long as the project demands it, with the attendant cost savings and risk reduction.
But Neil talked about the wider value of a company being connected to interesting stuff and interesting people. If innovation happens at the edges of a company and it’s all about the flow of ideas into and within an organisation, then mixing it up with fresh faces and fresh ideas would seem to be a no-brainer.
Neil also talked about how the stock of Knowledge an organisation holds isn’t as important as the flow of information, which means encouraging employees to be open to new information, share it and act quickly on it. As he put it, “acting like a startup”.
Amelia blogged recently about the ‘agency…and friends’ model:
as channels proliferate and skill-sets deepen and diverge, it is going to be impossible for an agency to effectively “own” all the skills that they need to service clients. Given that, how do we start to build a loose network of partners, developers and producers who can work along side the core agency hub? I am increasingly thinking of it as an “…and Friends” model, based on the insight that you choose your friends and not your family.
It seems to me that ‘…and friends’ has got to be the way forward – a core of full timers who look after the long term interests of their clients and curate specialist help and knowledge as and when it’s needed. Obviously, as a freelancer I’m going to be all in favour of this, but it’s been very interesting for me to see that client’s really don’t appear to be that bothered when I’m introduced as ‘Gemma who works with us’, rather than ‘Gemma who works for us’. In fact, from a Planning point of view, having an air of impartiality can be seen as a positive bonus by clients.
I actually wrote an essay about Networked Economies (or ‘…and friends’) while I was at university, which was inspired by an article in a 1996 issue of World Executive’s Digest (I know, I know), titled ‘What Show Business Can Show Business’ which looked at Hollywood as ‘a network of flexible businesses that get done in here-today-gone-tomorrow alliances’. It described how the business edge belonged to those who could bring together contractors in the most timely and efficient manner, partly because that this meant that each role could be staffed by the person best suited to it, rather than whoever happened to be available within the organisation.
My resulting essay (written thirteen years ago) concluded that ‘as the network economy develops in more conventional business sectors, I expect to see it becoming the norm’.
Anyone need a futurologist?