Back in the day in the technology business, before we got smart and evolved, there was a group known as systems integrators. System integrators were an outside resource whose sole job was to help companies make all technology systems work together: software, hardware, and communications. This interoperability void caused corporations to lose millions and spawned a whole new class of technology and services. There is an interesting corollary in the advertising and marketing business today as big marketers — defined as those with hundred million dollar budgets — are losing money thanks to silo’ed, out-of-harmony communications.
The advertising and marketing holding companies see the need for integration, but they can’t make it happen through all the the politics and revenue protection. The marketers see the need, but the job is too immense and not their competency.
The marketing services business is at an inflection point…and it will change. First mid-size agencies will fill the void, thanks to their nimbleness and ability to orchestrate under one roof. Then the holding companies will create their own systems integrator function (Saatchi is already playing here) but it will not work as the function will be viewed as are the “internal affairs” people in the police dept. So outside communications integrators will win the day. And that’s going to be too bad.