One of the things future historians will consider when trying to define the times we all now live in is the triumphant advance of open systems versus closed loops, walled gardens, or bundled offerings.
In geo-politics, technology, sciences, labor, environmental protection, and of course, our very own media industry we are witnessing how the new, intelligent, winning solutions are--by nature--open vs. closed.
The internet is a success story, because it is by nature open, uncontrollable by individual interests or strict borders. The EU is a success story, because it opened up borders and encourages competition of business, ideas and values across borders.
Data-Driven Marketing is a success story, because it overcomes the limitations of closed systems and allows the combination of insights for even more practical guidance. On the flip side: Most of the civilized world is deeply skeptical of the nationalistic programs of Trump, Putin or Erdogan, because they essentially close up and turn back the achievements of an increasingly open society.
Or take the example of the car industry: it is increasingly obvious, how the old world order of a handful of car manufacturing behemoths is incapable of solving the mobility needs for the 21st century because they refuse to combine the expertise of technologists, urban experts and engineers the way that Tesla or new technology players find natural.
And yes, marketers are getting increasingly skeptical of the scale argument, which is still the sharpest tool in the shed of any agency network trying to fend off the competition.
If our industry would only open up, marketers would be spared the endless frustrations of ineffectiveness that is the dark side of the promise of mouthwatering efficiency. More is not always better. A walled garden exists only to cling on to the benefits of a monopoly. A bundled service contract across many disciplines means that the margins earned on one service are financing the losses in another.
Clients do not care about the logos on the business cards of their agencies as long as they are the best and they work together.
This is why Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP is right when he says: "The best solution that I think the clients want is the best people working on their business."
Absolutely! But he should have ended there, instead of adding this absurdity to his praise for open sourcing: "Those people could come from multiple brands [within WPP]. My view is stronger today than it has ever been that moving to one organization is the right end position.”
An open service provider encourages clients to choose the best pieces and help them put the puzzle together. An open service provider does not lure clients with cross-selling deals. An open service provider has proof that they seamlessly interact with others. An open service provider creates value on every step of the scope. An open service provider provides service with ANY SOURCE.