The future of business

by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded

I recently had a prospect tell us that the only reason why we didn’t win the business is because they thought the size of our agency was too small to handle their global account. (Never mind the fact that I had established their brand, position, key messages, conducted an international vetting process, and initial set of marketing and advertising materials 3 years earlier) The prospect felt they needed “numbers” of people to feel like they would be taken care of. This got me thinking about how different the world of business is becoming and will be in the future.

The future of business is not going to be built the way it used to be. It will not be about gigantic corporations with 9 layers of management. It will not be about economies of scale because technology has broken down that barrier. And business will not be about owning everything they produce or even their processes. The future of business will be a different kind of organization. Here are my thoughts:

Small core, large network – The future business organization will have 300 people, of which only 7 are full-time employees. The rest are “guns for hire”, the best in breed at what they do. All of this talent will be leveraged for a defined goal. The result is that clients get expert services and expert results. The company is able to stay lean and make a difference. They will also be very profitable. The other 293 people who worked on the project will be able to add another great gig to their credit. They will move from great gig to great gig doing the thing they love and are best in breed at.

Experience counts – Experienced people can do more, in less time, and get it right on the first pass. This cuts down on the need for layers of staff to “manage”. It’s been said, “If you need to manage someone, then you’ve made a bad hire.” Future business organization will be made up of almost exclusively smart, talented people who know what they’re doing. Lets face it, in most of today’s companies, the talented ones are outnumbered by mediocre personnel at least 20:1. It is this experience and talent that will allow a company to handle the needs of any size client regardless of complexity or scale. Talent kills. Experiences kills. Smart kills. It’s hard to beat that combination.

Nimble wins – Being nimble means being able to develop ideas, quickly, execute them quickly, and see what happens. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. From Henry Ford to today’s Silicon Valley success stories is to try a lot of things and see what works. Because the word changes so quickly today, companies don’t have the luxury to study and make plans perfect before they launch. John Merck III has said that Merck needs to fail more quickly in order to succeed.

Does all this mean that large companies can’t win in the future? No. It’s more of a mindset. A large company must be able to keep that core DNA of entrepreneurship. GE has been able to do that. They allow each division to be like their own little business and act independently of the parent company. In the early 2000’s, GE had bought over 1,000 companies. Their trick, they didn’t squash the entrepreneurial spirit and leadership that made these companies special enough for them to buy. The same with Walmart. They keep the flow of ideas from being stalled through layers of bureaucracy by allowing individual store managers to experiment in everything from internal policy to customer service.

When it comes to down to marketing, I feel agencies that are filled with smart, talented people can produce amazing, creative ideas that in the end, produce great bottom line results. This has nothing to do with how big or small a agency is. It has everything to do with experience and talent. The future agency is able to expand as large as needed by enlisting best in breed and leverage their talent to the client’s cause. Give me 10 experienced, talented people over 100 average people. We will produce work that is greater and will captivate the marketspace and deliver results while the 100 average people become more about overhead and less about achievement.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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