The UK creative industry is not innovating fast enough

The UK creative advertising and production industry is not a great innovator.

I am no way suggesting this in respect of the craft, the brilliant thought and creative execution for which it is a world leader contributing a staggering £92bn a year to the UK economy, but specifically in respect to the business management systems which underpin many of our creative and production companies. The type of innovation that was the principle on which Agency DNA was founded to deliver.

The world is changing fast, again, and with GDPR and Brexit alone the business data guidelines that creative companies need to adhere to more than ever are:

1)      Security – the safe storage of well-structured system held data;

2)      Accessibility – the 24/7 ability to view and act on data, as needed and as authorised;  

3)      High Velocity – the speed with which source data is made available to the highest level of reporting, and

4)      Integrity – the confidence end-users have with data presented, helped by an ability to drill-down seamlessly through connected system layers to the source.

Few companies have just one system where the primary functions of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Operational Management (e.g. for Projects, Distribution, and/or Field Services) and Finance – the most important core system function for any business, are purpose built as integrated modules.

Most companies have multiple systems, a systems “stack” where specific systems are acquired or licensed for particular functions to sit on top or side by side, and which often fail through a lack of natural connectivity, accessibility and user controls between them. Excel is typically used as the glue, but as a “data adhesive” it’s not sticky and inevitably detaches. Offline pools of spreadsheet data are left high and dry, the contents vulnerable, their usefulness quickly evaporating.

Many system vendors through PowerPoint and hard-wired demonstrations show the brilliance of their systems, but how easy are they to configure and at what cost? Is the technology on which they're built the most advanced? Do they connect well to other systems, and are the primary functions natural extensions to the core system, or are they bolted on – suggesting they'll leak data, into spreadsheets? How well are they supported? 

For the UK creative industry in particular to remain a global leader it must stay profitable and be more productive. The ability to recruit and retain top talent, nurture the next generations, and continue investing and innovating has never been a given. It is now an even greater imperative.

GDPR is a policy requirement in respect of customer data, but it is actually wake-up call to the whole issue of data management. Companies need the systems that provide control and visibility, security and agility over the harnessing of their business data to see and seize opportunities.

The success by which this can be determined will be linked to the ease with which users can themselves adjust their systems, adapting them so they can react and grow – without having to wait for support or see more data spilling off into, yes spreadsheets. 

The advertising networks are a case in point. Sure, there are a number of seismic forces compounding against them, but a lot of angst is of their own making, with convoluted structures and systems that just can't support them. They’ve never been truly agile, and it's staggering how much money they've spent on flawed systems and still have buckets of data sitting in spreadsheets, sensitive data, now exposed to GDPR risk.

With almost perfect timing, our aim for bringing the necessary systems innovation to creative companies is being realised. We now work exclusively with Acumatica, the world's fastest growing cloud ERP solution and BizView, the Nordics market leading budgeting and reporting system. For storm-gathering growing lists of clients across the world, these are innovations on a stick.

Sadly, these solutions weren't invented here, but who says we can’t embrace them. They are highly adaptable and they simply do what’s needed better than anything else we’ve ever worked with.

In my opinion, this is great news for our clients and prospects in the creative industry - and indeed, potentially for any UK company. Embracing innovation in their business systems will definitely help keep their creative cutting edge.

Email me for more information,

Chris Lever, Founder

20+ years experience in professional services.  Former Finance Director of WCRS (now The Engine Group) and BLM (now Arena Media), two of the UK's most successful independent advertising and media agencies, assisting WCRS through its 2004 MBO and BLM through a trade sale in 2008.  Whilst the transactions featured heavily in these roles, a key personal driver was a determination to promote finance functions with people and systems capable of handling the change and growth these groups faced under their new ownership structures.  An Australian CPA, Chris is an all-sports enthusiast, although participation is generally now limited to pedaling a road bike.