Upskill and innovate: Here's how Indonesian agency heads plan to take on 2020

About half a month into 2020, markets still remain cautious in their hopes for 2020. According to an article on Nikkei, the growth outlooks of Asian economies remain somewhat weak for 2020, “following a sudden deceleration in 2019 and the continuing U.S.-China trade war”. The article further stated that  the 2020 growth rate for the five big associations of Southeast Asian Nations countries was projected to slowly climb up to 4.2% from the 2019 projection of 3.9%, but the growth was still much lower compared to previous years.

According to a McKinsey report published early last year on Indonesia 4.0, only a small percentage of companies were implementing Industry 4.0 technologies. Others who were hesitant into adopting new tech cited obstacles such as unclear business cases, insufficient IT integration, cybersecurity concerns, and a lack of talent.

This comes on the back of the Indonesia government pushing for wide transformations in the market. In conversations with agency heads in Indonesia, Marketing Interactive found that global agency leads will be focused on upskilling their talent and offerings, while independent agencies are on the move to raise the benchmark.

Here's more from both global and independent agencies in Indonesia on the challenges they expect to face in 2020, and how they plan to overcome them.

Marianne Admardatine, former CEO, JWT Indonesia

When it comes to challenges, I would not say its not so much about the 'challenge' itself  but rather 'excitement' the year presents, with a strong need to adjust and be more agile. I have come to learn most of communications channels and marketing tools these past few years and each learning comes with one big revelation – how data and story-telling must go together, and how understanding a consumer’s journey is key to craft the right story to tell. These three ingredients is a must in today’s marketing and communications.

I see 2020 as a new chapter for me, where I get to use all that knowledge I have gained to deliver a better story to tell and to position the new agency I am about to lead in March (watch this space), as the trusted partner for brands to build relationships with today’s audience. There will be challenges, I am sure, but I believe we can overcomes them if we have a strong conviction on what we have to offer and be realistic when facing them.

From our job’s point of view, we, as an agency person(s), need to always evolve and adapt and have the ability to look at opportunities in using the right channel(s) to create a strong engagement with consumers and not confine ourselves within one type of channel or be too overwhelmed with the word ‘digital’. At the same time, most importantly, while doing our job, I wanted my team to work hard in becoming the client’s trusted advisor, and not just their marketing/comms agency.

Trust is earned, and earning it is hard.

And by being a client's trusted advisor, we can then be able to understand their business better, along with their challenges and identify where the opportunities are present. And once we have all that, we would be a better partner in creating the right strategy for their brands.

Soum Banerjee, CEO, TBWA\Indonesia

Every year presents its own set of own challenges and it’s our responsibility to manage these and turn these challenges into opportunities for our clients as well as ourselves. 2019 was a very good year for us, we recognised areas and capabilities we wanted to strengthen, and upskilled our people and hired talent to ensure our ambitions were met.

New clients and our valuable existing clients recognised our commitment to their business rewarding and trusting us with their brands, while the industry also recognised our successes as we were awarded multiple Agency of the Year titles.

Will 2020 be more challenging? I feel we’ll be faced with a new set of challenges, which also presents us with a new set of opportunities.

As our industry continues to evolve and move at speed, our capabilities and our operation model will always be questioned to ensure we are doing the right thing, and the brave thing for our clients, which will then have a positive impact on their brands’ growth. So in 2020 our collective new year resolution will be to continue to do the brave thing to move ourselves forward, ensuring we are securing a greater share of the future for all our clients.

Reza Akbar, managing director, OLRANGE

I believe 2020 will be our most competitive year yet. Independent agencies must compete with not only each other and global agencies, but also in-house teams built by clients.

Companies are seeking efficiency – competitive price points, spending transparency, along with measurability and return on investment. And they demand effectiveness, along with a leaner team structure to provide smoother communication flow and faster delivery. Even so, we are quite optimistic because we believe in our agility and versatility, by always keeping up with trends and changes within the market.

The Indonesia market is very unique. It is shaped by millions of people from various cultural backgrounds who love the internet and contribute to evolving trends across the digital ecosystem.

What’s demanded from a creative agency such as us is something beyond creativity; effectiveness is becoming of more importance than ever before.

As the Gold winner for 2019 Marketing Interactive’s Indonesia Independent Agency of the Year, we want to strengthen our positioning by expanding our services into a creative network, including media, production house and other creative businesses. By doing so, we aim to broaden and strengthen the capabilities we have to offer our clients and direct customers.

Peter Haarmark, CEO, Ydigital Asia

Last year was a whirlwind. We worked with so many exciting clients, won awards, celebrated our fifth anniversary and launched multiple services. Some successful, and others discontinued. Our new year’s resolution is “focused innovation” and our biggest challenge is to create an agile innovation and launch-framework.

If we don’t innovate, we won’t be relevant two years from now.

It’s easy to get distracted with multiple weekly requests for a wide range of services in different geographies and while it’s never fun to turn people (and revenue) down, we decided in 2020 to zoom in on our core services and our home market, Indonesia and innovate around that. We see rapid development in paid media, SEO, creative and content in Indonesia.

Read also:
Greater collaborations in 2020: Global agency heads buckle up for new year
SG and MY marketers share learning lessons from 2019
‘We are here for 2020’: How independents are gearing up for the new year
‘People have worked hard for generations’: SG independent agency heads on burnout
Global agency heads’ take on talent burnout in the SG ad agency scene