At Encode, we have been observing a significant swing in the challenges that agencies are facing, how they need to adapt to changing client demands and keep up with the changing world of marketing production and content creation. We are fortunate to be in a position where we are asked to participate in discussions, consult, and find solutions for our clients, giving us good insight and an understanding of the challenges our clients face. The discussions are wide-ranging and varied, from designing new ways of briefing to consolidating approaches across disciplines or more strategic discussions around how offices work seamlessly across locations and use resources more efficiently globally.
Across agencies, we see some current themes emerge, that in turn, are starting to shape environments ensuring they are in a ready state to respond and manage new challenges.
Most of our clients have a multiple systems landscape where they are using the best of breed products that are integrated seamlessly.
We are now seeing clients limiting the number of products they are using, clients are actively reviewing vendors and understanding the full capabilities of their products, with this knowledge the aim is to consolidate their tech stack and save costs on managing multiple license fees. These reviews and recognition of full platform capabilities are leading to smaller operating costs with vendors and less IT overhead internally.
In some cases we are seeing tech costs being moved on to the agencies clients or brands, who in turn are now viewing this as a key part of their strategies to control their created assets and IP, this control gives them instant access to assets and enables further contributions from other agencies, vendors or freelancers.
Encode are helping clients in this area by reviewing current working environments and proposing how the Encode Platform can provide capabilities to be used across further areas under the same license agreement. Common areas of consolidation for our clients are DAM, time and resource management, and proofing, which are leading to more integrated and efficient ways of working.
We have seen a strong movement for agencies in selecting ‘off the shelf’ products and stop developing their bespoke systems. There’s been a realization of the costs for managing development teams to build your systems and then pressure in remaining competitive with your product. Development costs have increased globally through demand, and it’s no longer a cost-efficient option to use development resources in Eastern Europe or India to build your own systems.
With this shift, we see positive uptake for Encode’s ‘no-code’ approach. The platform provides capabilities through ‘configuration only’ to build a customized platform meeting client requirements. Encode aims at using a Blueprint approach where we propose an approx. 80% standard system and then 20% customisation to fit and meet specific requirements.
It comes as no surprise that throughout the agency world, the principals of the briefing, estimation, resource management, production, approvals, and delivery all have very large similarities. This enables a standardized approach, combined with the flexibility of configuration to deliver a bespoke environment for our clients, with a SaaS licensing model.
We at Encode are being asked to create smart ways of working, providing efficiencies with less manual intervention, and this is being done using multiple system capabilities and driving processes to initiate the workflow.
As an example, we have been building briefing workflows that can be used to generate estimates and provide a self-serve portal to the agency clients. In turn, the approval of this estimate can trigger a preset job route that can then enable the smart allocation of resources. Tasks can then be tracked for time and cost, enabling reconciliation of actual activity against the estimated cost.
We see these ways of working enforce consistent working practices and reduce manual input, thus driving efficiencies. We are advising our clients on how they can use their assets smarter. This could be from the start of the process in the photography studio, ensuring assets are tagged with relevant data on the input to the DAM or star ratings directly captured from the photographers' camera set up, enabling quicker selection of assets and automation into the next stage of the workflow.
Relevant data with stored assets can provide links to its previous usage, enabling smart filtering to present specific assets for re-use or re-purposing. Encode see workflows as having specific parameters to provide consistent and efficient ways of working, but appreciate that each client needs flexibility in their approach, enabling them to remain agile and competitive. With Encode’s ‘no code’ approach, we can adapt and configure quickly to ensure a client has the smartest approach to meeting their requirements.
There has been an explosion in the creation of content across our clients and the demands on how this content needs to be managed.
Clients see campaign turnaround times reduced dramatically, we have seen examples where brands are reducing turnaround cycles from twelve weeks down to four weeks, with expectations of new volumes of content being created and ready to use.
This entire process needs to be repeatable, efficient, and provide transparency from an audit perspective.
These fast turnaround content workflows can have multiple contributors, ranging from photography studios, creative agencies to individual influencers. The target endpoint can be varied from social to the point of sale, and there is a requirement to be “always on’.
There is ever-increasing importance of moving image, with multiple rich media channels requiring relevant content, it’s becoming more important for high-quality content to be created in a format correct for purpose.
Our Platform is enabling a way of managing large volumes of content while being held as work in progress, providing quick ways of filtering and selecting required assets for use. The UI can switch between views to show single elements through to a spreadsheet view where multiple assets can be managed and edited collectively. Encode’s Platform can provide a way of working that will enable fast-to-market content production, consistent ways of working at scale, providing time and cost savings.