SHANGHAI: In a time of unprecedented change, agencies in Asia need to rethink their own capabilities to keep up with consumers and clients in the digital era, a leading industry figure tells WARC.

“Agency business is supposed to really create a platform for different types of ideas to flourish and to strive,” said Jane Lin-Baden, chief executive officer for Isobar Asia-Pacific, in an exclusive interview with WARC.

“Particularly right now, our industry and many of our clients’ industries are in a highly disruptive mode,” she explained. (For more on the future of agencies, read WARC’s report: Building a forward-thinking agency for Asia’s digital era.)

“So we have a lot of conversations about how agencies and brands are working together as a team to solve a problem.”

Ensuring teams are made up of both lateral and vertical thinkers helps agencies look at a client’s business challenges from a multitude of different angles, she advised.

It’s important that an agency is knowledgeable in a wide variety of areas to reflect the multi-channel demands of their clients, particularly in the digital sphere. Lin-Baden cited e-commerce, artificial intelligence and new technologies as three examples.

“Good agencies should invest in those areas because they're very common problems for brands,” she stated. “So instead of brands doing these one by one, you should leverage agency resources and tackle those knowledge areas.”

Agencies will need to adapt to a new era with new demands.

“I think for us – in the most critical time now – is not to look at incremental change, but to look at what is the root cause that can help us to come out of disruption,” she said, adding that one key to emerging unscathed was to reframe the challenge itself.

After decades of building vertical expertise, new-generation agencies will need to be more flexible and creative to stand apart from their peers.

“The digital agency will need to move on from purely building an experience creation based on the platform. So I think this is the mandate for all the agencies in our category – everyone has a different destiny.”

Sourced from WARC