I read a statistic in the weekend's press, which I thought was fascinating and thought-provoking. I know, I know. There are lies, damn lies and statistics, but it intrigued me enough to look into it and it seems to have credibility.
It stated that 60% of the kids in school today will go on to fill jobs that haven’t yet been invented.
I started to ponder the consequence of this assertion for ICP.
When I joined the company as a consultant just over 4 years ago, the business looked like this:
- Our home was in a Grade 2 listed town house in central London and our team of 22 was spread over 5 floors. Charming, but not efficient. That’s 4.2 a floor divided by 76 stairs and we’re part of the communications business!
- There were 22 staff including management. 14 were males and 8 females. So more or less 2 for 1. The average age of the ICP team was 43. With the exception of our token Frenchman, they were all British.
- We were primarily a production company, versioning and delivering press and OOH advertising into our client’s global markets. All of this business was being managed from our office in London. Even though most of our clients were headquartered in the USA.
- Production represented 87% of our business and the other 13% came from an embryonic service; managing 2 client’s DAM (Digital Asset Management) platforms. 3 if you include one of the management working on this side of the business.
If you fast forward to today, [27.02.2015] ICP looks like this:
- We now operate from one open floor plan, still in central London. We also have offices in New York and Mumbai. To meet our clients’ expectations we will be opening our doors in Hong Kong, Mexico and two further APAC markets later in 2015.
- We have more or less grown by 66% and now employ 66 people. 35 are male and 31 female.
- The average age, if we include everyone who was here when I joined, it would be 34. If you only look at people who have joined since January 2010, it would be less than 30 and the gender split would be 27 male and 28 female.
- In terms of nationality, we have a radically different profile; joining our family of 25 from the UK, we now have 2 Chinese, 2 Americans, 2 Spanish, 2 from New Zealand and another from Portugal. We also have one each from Norway, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Ireland. I am relieved to say that we still have our token Frenchman and he is joined by our token Welshman, so they can have interminable conversations about rugby. And we are also joined by our 10 Indian colleagues working in Mumbai. This league of nations and their age profile has given us a wonderful mix of cultures, insights and skills to mix with our traditional roles and importantly, many are fulfilling jobs that we had no idea existed way back in 2009.
- Production still represents a healthy proportion of our business at 60%. But, DAM has grown from 13% to 40% in just over four years.
- The production business now represents not only the press and OOH media channels, but the vital television, online, Ecommerce and social media channels as part of our client’s overall marketing mix.
Which brings me back to the statistic I mentioned at the beginning.
When I first arrived at ICP, I stuck this image up on my wall. It’s a quote from The Go Between, a novel by L.P. Hartley, written in the 50’s about an elderly man looking back on his life in the early years of the 20th century.
But for me, it’s always had a resonance about how we should view business and its future development. If you don’t retain your ongoing strengths, but at the same time focus on innovation, you are ultimately consigning yourself to the dustbin of history.
ICP trades its wares in the marketing communication space. Way back in that foreign country, this space was a mix of creativity, craft skills and instinct. There was a famous quote back then, which was attributed to a New York advertiser, who said: "Half the money I spend on advertising doesn't work; the trouble is I don’t know which half."
That is certainly no longer true, if it ever was.
Because now, while creativity will and must always have a key role in marketing communications, it has technology, which is now supporting and driving change. And much of this technology provides insight to enable more accurate marketing campaigns. It is this inexorable bandwagon that I believe will throw up those jobs that haven’t yet been invented in our space.
Our growth and experience at the crossroads of marketing technology and production will hopefully prepare us well for what lies ahead.
We live in exciting times.
John Stuart, CEO