Planning @50: What is its future?

This article is part of a series of articles marking the 50th birthday of planning. Read more.

Planning has always been a risky business, the best-laid plans often fail and, as Steve Blank, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, famously said, "No business plan ever survives first contact with the customer." When reality hits, the plan almost always needs to change. This is particularly true of advertising.

Yet, despite the inevitability of change and constant evolution around us, the annual planning cycle has, somehow, served legacy brands well over the past 50 years. The long lead times for production, the availability of only limited real-time data on performance (both brand and sales), emphasis on volume commitments to particular media channels to ensure the best price and positions, which also enable agencies to manage their headcount for specialist departments required to book particular media channels, meant that an annual cycle was often what was required from a supply chain point-of- view, with little apparent alternative.