Forecasting the future is not easy. As the network infrastructure is becoming our future social infrastructure, its usage environment of devices and applications necessary for the networks. Their operations, which carry information, should be improved, instead of improvement of physical distribution. The first session of Pitch brainstorm, held in Mumbai mulled over the subject 'Communication business in 2010- Super Specialisation over Integration' and it featured a panel of Amit Bose (President, Tata Teleservices), Ramesh Natrajan (Head, Marketing, DHL), Ravi Kiran (Managing Director, Starcom India West & South), Rohit Mull (Vice-President, Marketing, Tata AIG) and Santosh Kanekar (Marketing Director, Diageo India). Sunil Gupta (Communications Consultant) was the Moderator.
Bose began the session and said, "Some things would remain unchanged in 2010. Brand ownership would remain with people who are making profits from them. However, consumers would find new ways of accessing content such as interactive TV, wireless access, mobile phones etc. Though the process has already begun, it would reach new heights in 2010. In such an era, specialisation and integration will co-exist. On one hand, there would be communication specialists, who understand the medium more thoroughly, and on the other hand, there would be system integrators who don't understand the mediums as well but who would preside over the right mix of technologies and mediums for reaching marketing and media goals."
Meanwhile, Sinha believed that the model for the future would be an integrated solutions one. He said, "As we speak, clients need a one-stop shop for their needs. Which is why, the only model for communication companies of the west has to integrated solutions. An umbrella of services, perhaps with one commander-in-chief would be the main model."
Natrajan from DHL raised quite a furor in the audience as he stated that there has been no change in the attitude of communication houses over time, which is why, one, cannot expect a radical change by 2010. However he put it the crux in so many words, "Unless agencies enter into an era of super specialisation, it wouldn't make sense to have an umbrella of solutions. The old model is not going to work, much more. For this, media companies must invest in people and resources, so that they can acquire the right kind of specialization and develop the right kind of super specialisation model."
Kanekar from Diageo India said, "If the services of the agencies itself becomes a differentiator in the marketing mix, then it's definitely an age of specialisation. But from the looks of things today, I see more integration at the supply side and specialisation at the demand side."
Ravi Kiran from Starcom said that the future is about the right orchestration and not about super specialisation or integration. He said, "We have to separate thinking from delivery and think of the consumer first, instead of the craft. While specialization is about doing one thing really well, integration is about doing many things well enough. The future would be the right blend between the two and an orchestration of sorts. Why should the media business be different from any other? For instance, with specialisation in medicine, you don't see general practitioners going out of job."
Lastly Mull said that the future calls for a team of super specialists who work with different agencies. He said, "Media and advertising companies need to anticipate one-stop needs and deliver innovative solutions. The answer may not be branching out into different areas like rural marketing, direct marketing etc…rather it would be bringing the right kind of specialised help from outside. From the client's perspective, he would not have to fend for fifteen agencies specialising at different touch points like rural marketing, outdoor etc."
In a seamless network society, media and advertising companies will be more service-oriented, and these would act as the key differentiator. But to add to the multitude of solutions, there would also have to be integration as well. In all probability, the two will co-exist.