Tag Archives: Emerging technologies

10, 20, 50, 100 or 1,000; what’s the perfect size for an agency?

Client / Agency relationships, by David Hunt

178, the size of HAVAS LYNX. Ask anyone that manages an agency of 178 & they will say the same – it’s perfect. I imagine that in a few weeks 181 will be even more perfect. 

For years we were perceived as being too small. Now we are too big to be innovative, yet still too small to be a player?!? I disagree with both opinions.

Innovation & creativity is not about headcount. Never has been, never will be. It’s about people, passion & culture. With a background in digital, technology & creativity, I was appointed CEO at the age of 33. I’m driven by ideas & not numbers. Supported by a management team that believes in great work, we  now invest in more diverse expertise, try more unique technologies & chase more ideas than ever before. We are constantly looking for new concepts for ourselves, for our clients, for HCPs & for patients.

Can you be small, commercially motivated & technology agnostic? With the correct approach and the right people, perhaps. However, are you more likely to settle with the specialist you shared lunch with, or the unknown you still need to locate? With a big agency comes diverse expertise under one roof, providing seamless access to broad ideas. But can you be big & still bright? Certainly, but only by breaking down silos & embracing diversity. Different experiences, points of view & interests inspire innovation.

Like the story of Goldilocks, some agencies are too big, some agencies are too small, and some agencies are just right – it depends on your taste.

Three Bears

It is a matter of taste

Another strange question – do you have enough capacity? Does a prospective customer really want an agency that’s quiet? I’ve never walked into an empty restaurant, however if it’s heaving I want a reservation – evidence suggests that the product will be great. Do you want a partner that is free, or do you want a partner that is expert? A well run agency will have the infrastructure, process & connections to scale smartly and meet the fluid needs of their customers.

I’m proud to say that we are very big and we are very busy. And our clients choose HAVAS LYNX for our  ideas, innovation & ability to exceed expectations, and we are grateful for their patronage. 

Steve Jobs, a catalyst for innovation or a poster boy for the digital revolution?

User experience; Pursuit of perfection, by David Hunt

Where does the late Steve Jobs sit amongst the greatest minds of our time? Is he simply the poster-boy for the global culture of innovation? Or is he the catalyst that inspired a generation to think differently?

iPod

iPod, where it all began?

He didn’t create the Internet, he didn’t create the MP3, he did not invent the mobile phone, but does that lessen his impact or contribution to the digital revolution? Through his pathological commitment to a customer-centric approach, he took alien and complex concepts and brought them into the main-stream. He was the perfect foil to a software engineer, able to take “black magic” and make it simply magic.

His impact is significant; he challenged conventions and improved our lives. He didn’t look at what the competition did, he looked at what they didn’t do. He saw things differently. He knew what people wanted and he fulfilled the need, in terms of product, positioning and marketing.

His products were the best. He had the vision to challenge conventions and he had the obsession to shape every detail. His solutions weren’t defined by rules or existing boundaries, but by form, and experience. Whilst the design & integration of his products were flawless, product semantics were at the heart of their success, providing complete alignment with a user’s instincts. We didn’t have to learn how to work his products, they learnt how we work. Consumers may choose an Apple product because it is pioneering, it is desirable, it is premium – I choose Apple because of the experience. It is an extension of me. Every detail considered around my needs; from the physical interaction to the  seamless interface, driven by a deep rooted desire to exceed my expectations.

He defined product classes. Apple did not produce the first smart phone, or first MP3 player, but they did bring them to the public conscious. His product positioning was flawless, (unlike some). He could bridge the gap between technology and need. He would take an idea and make it relevant. There are those that can create technology, and there are those that know how to use it, Steve Jobs was the latter and his impact all the greater.

Was Steve Jobs a marketing expert? In 1983 he didn’t think so. In hiring John Sculley from Pepsi to become CEO of Apple, he highlighted the value he placed on marketing & communications, but an unusual lack of personal belief. Those in his presence, and the wider world would disagree, citing his “reality distortion field” – an ability to make the impossible, seam possible. Despite the economic challenges of the past decade, Apple has continued to succeed. Many wrongly believe that in austere times a cut in sales & marketing drives profit, Apple have baulked this trend and proven the wisdom of communications to maintain long-term success.

It is impossible to say where the world would be without Steve Jobs and Apple. However, I would speculate that whilst the technology would exist, the benefit it brings would only be enjoyed by engineers & technicians, the wider society would be oblivious to the benefits of “black magic”.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.”
– Steve Jobs

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs

– Jobs [Movie, 2013]

– Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

– Keep It Simple: The Early Design Years of Apple by Hartmut Esslinger

Sent from my iPad

 

 

Understanding who you are, And knowing where you are going

Merger; From the Inside, by David Hunt
Part I, Initial engagement 

June 2012 was huge, after 18 months of careful planning I married my beautiful wife, running to the same timeline Creative Lynx merged with Havas. Both life changing events, both spectacularly exciting, but whilst friends & family can offer advice & council on your marriage, a merger is an altogether more isolated experience.

Having completed an MBO in March 2008, just six months after the credit crunch had started, business was going exceptionally well. We’d experienced year-on-year double-digit growth, collected 16 wins at the PM Society Digital Awards in 3 years and continued to develop a number of industry firsts. At the heart of our success was an exceptionally talented multi-disciplinary team that combined insight, with creativity and innovation. A team that would be at the forefront of our thoughts, every step of the way.

Through sustained growth & success, we saw three opportunities;

  • We were a young agency with brilliant ideas and passion, but we were a young agency that could benefit from a global partner. We needed global experience and sophistication to transform raw talent into global communication experts
  • Inside and outside of healthcare, consolidation is an increasing trend. As a boutique agency it can be seen as a threat or opportunity. We saw this as an opportunity to combine our intimate service with a global footprint
  • We’re based in Manchester, which is brilliant for creative & digital talent. However, in global communications it can be viewed as a province and whilst this perception is changing, before Havas we were being overlooked for the best global briefs

We’ve always grown our business through referrals, recommendations and repeat business. Through experience & intuition we know how to run an agency, we know how to build teams & deliver results, we know our business. But a merger is not about today, it is about tomorrow. Suitors have a passing curiosity in where you have come from, they have a fascination in where you are going. Having previously been focused on the here & now, at the outset of the process we became smarter, more considered, strategic – by simple proximity to potential global partners we were setting out our long-term ambition, designing a roadmap and creating an infrastructure to deliver sustained success.

Following our deal with Havas we have;

Our vision & ideas, originally inspired through the merger process are now becoming reality as a result of the support, infrastructure & expertise that we can now harness.

Having committed to the process & having defined our vision, we engaged with a number of networks. As a result of our success, we had already been approached by nearly all of the global communication networks –  now on our terms, in our time, the courtship could begin. I first met Donna Murphy & Doug Burcin (Global CEOs of Havas Health) in 2011, they were brilliant, the perfect combination of drive & consideration. Someone that I wanted to both work with and learn from. Alongside them was Ed Stapor, with an absolute passion for us and for Havas. Ed was driven by people & relationships, as were we.

As the journey unfolded we met a number of brilliant & respected leaders from across the major networks. Every interaction was another opportunity to learn, engage and shape our plans – they were all worthwhile. Whilst similar in their achievements & proposition, it quickly became apparent that there were significant differences in their approach. I believe that Havas made their decision based on the people & our ideas, the others focused more on numbers & forecast.

Beyond the chemistry that would ultimately shape our decision, Havas also talked more about digital, more about social, more about the future. They didn’t just want to buy the answer, they wanted to help create it. It wasn’t just about our insight, our ideas, our technology, it was about shared expertise, shared resource, a shared vision. It was about creating something unique. It was about creating a global group that would shape & define digital communications in healthcare – HAVAS LYNX.

It has been a fantastic start. We have enjoyed the honeymoon period, it is new, exciting and fun. There will always be highs & lows, it’s a relationship and we are all passionate. However by following our instinct & choosing people over profit, I know that we’ll have an ally when times are tough and an advocate when moving forward.

Part II, Agreeing the finer details

Part III, Business as usual

Part IV, A year in & the lessons I learnt

A Technology Start-up, Born from an Agency

Software product development in healthcare, by David Hunt

In April 2012, Instagram had an estimated 27 million users with only 13 employees. At the back end of 2012, Pinterest had approximately 100 staff to 40 million users. Whilst social media played a significant part in the growth of these businesses, at the heart of their success was a need, which inspired an idea, that in-turn became a solution.

I’ve collaborated alongside some amazing creatives. People with ideas and concepts, people who are not limited by technology conceptually, but in the delivery.  Likewise, I am fortunate enough to have worked with some exceptional software engineers. People with talent and expertise, people who master technologies to fulfil their want. Both have the common ambition, to make a difference.

Having an idea and a solution is not always enough. First you must identify a need. A genuine, real need that represents an opportunity to make an impact. Communication agencies have the potential to make this leap. They can harness creative & technical expertise, and have the insight to identify a need. As demonstrated by the likes of Pinterest & Instagram, impacting the many can be done by the few. As an agency, I believe it comes down to courage & conviction.

Earlier this year we launched, HAVAS HEALTH SOFTWARE. We understand healthcare and we know the challenges. We pride ourselves on meaningful innovation, and have a proven track record of ideas that work. We have a brilliant team of engineers led by Andy Stopford, Technical Director. It is a bold move, it has required significant investment, but we believe the timing is right. Over the last decade we have built a number of products, and we have the appetite & ambition to take local success stories and make them global.

Why now? And what will success look like? Our clients are bored with technology that is not designed around the unique needs of healthcare, like old hand-me downs they don’t quite fit. Equally they are frustrated with great ideas that simply fail to deliver on the promise, wasting time, effort and money. With 15 years experience in software engineering & 50+ full-time developers, our foundations are solid. Backed-up by a vibrant local digital community and with robust process & systems, we have the infrastructure to deliver. Our products fulfil the ideas of the creatives & sectors specialists, provide a robust & long-term solution, and most importantly meet the needs of our clients.

40 million users are unlikely, however a portfolio of robust products supporting key clients is already becoming a reality. With customer engagement being led by Jon Vernon, we are seeing real traction & success. But our ambitions are greater than that. We want to create an innovation pipeline, with significant and ongoing investment in new products & new features. They won’t all be a success, but as a partner to our clients and with courage & conviction, we are well placed to identify needs, develop an idea and provide a solution. 

One of our greatest achievements has been blending the maverick of our creative teams with the science of our engineers. Now with the benefit of experience, a proven portfolio of products and the ambition to meet the bespoke needs of our clients, we introduce HAVAS HEALTH SOFTWARE.

Further information:

Data sources: Business Insider, Facebook, Forbes, LinkedIn, Macroaxis, Reuters, Statista, Tumblr, Twitter, The Wall Street Journal, Wikipedia

Sustained Success, The Mark of a Great Team?

Awards; Behind the scenes of 23 wins in 5 years, by David Hunt

It was September 2009 and we were travelling to the inaugural PM Digital Awards. As is customary, we were debating the merits of our finalists, I’m our toughest critic and had predicted 1 or maybe 2 – we won 6, including both best in show!! Travelling home today, with 23 wins in 5 years I could not be more proud of the whole team & more grateful to our client partners.

I’ve grown up playing football and people talk about the difference between a great year and a great team. To win a title is a great year, to win the title year-after-year is the mark of a great team. In football this sustained success often includes the need to re-invent & evolve the team. As an agency we have done the same. We invest heavily in research & development, we embrace new technologies, and we recruit the brightest digital talent. We don’t stand still, and as a result neither do our clients.

How have we maintained our position as leading innovators in healthcare communications? We have great clients, who share our ambition to innovate. We have great expertise, within a culture of innovation. We have a great philosophy, focused on improving health outcomes.

Our clients don’t have to be digital experts, they do have to be courageous. Based on robust insight, a solid understanding of the regulations and digital technologies, we will make recommendations. But we can only be successful through a strong partnership with our clients. We are at our best, our strongest and our most innovative when working as a team.

We have almost 200 people in Europe, over 250 including LYNX NY, all focused on healthcare. Can you have scale & innovation? Yes, we are talking thousands & not hundreds when this could become an issue. Can you be small & innovative today? Not sure, the number of technologies & platforms is increasing at an unbelievable rate. As an individual you simply cannot be a master of them all, as a result, how can a small agency develop a campaign defined by the brief rather than by their in-house expertise, if it is limited in it’s very nature?

I often talk about a vibrant Manchester digital community, and it’s importance to our success. It also comes with challenges. The most significant of which is talent recruitment. On the surface we are competing with agencies offering websites for Nike, Audi & Virgin, and pharma is just not that cool. However, pharma makes a difference. We work on amazing treatments from HIV to Oncology & Diabetes that transform lives. As an agency, we are united by a common philosophy – Helpful Change. Inspiring us to be better & attract the talent necessary to fulfil that vision.

On the eve of the inaugural PM Digital Awards in 2009, if we would have debated the number of wins over the first 5 years… it certainly would not have been 23, and a period of such sustained success. And for that I am extremely grateful to both our bold clients and exceptional team.

You can watch a short video montage of the HAVAS LYNX 2013 PM Digital Media award finalist entries here: http://www.havaslynx.com/work/video-archive/