SHARP CO-LAB’s official launch at The Shard gathers over 100 industry leaders to Co-Create the agency of the future.

Something exciting happened in London last week: the high-profile launch of SHARP CO-LAB from The Shard’s 34th floor.

Eli Pinto, CEO of the company, kicked off the evening by introducing SHARP CO-LAB and its new proposition around end user co-creation. SHARP CO-LAB is a new breed of digital agency set to create digital experiences that are collaboratively shaped with customers or stakeholders and delivered by on-demand experts. The agency is pioneering a new operating model that brings together the benefits of the ‘gig economy’ with the agency’s expertise to deliver solutions to clients as needs arise.

It is a genuinely new and exciting proposition in an already fast-moving industry; one with agility, innovation and added value built in from the word go.

 

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The power of customer empathy by Alexander Schlaubitz

Alexander Schlaubitz, VP Marketing at Lufthansa and a previous colleague of Pinto, flew in especially for the event. He delivered an inspiring presentation about his experience at Lufthansa and the importance of creating customer strategies that are based on ‘empathy’. By explaining how he’s managed to use co-creation on recent projects, he perfectly illustrated how powerful this methodology can be when driving innovation across global brands.

Shaping the future

Pinto was keen to bring key influencers from some of the world’s best-loved brands into one room for the big launch event. With the promise of something much, much bigger than perfectly chilled drinks, canapés and great views in return.

With leading brands like Unilever, Lebara, Specsavers, American Express, Stagecoach, Tesco, SkyScanner, Nissan, Samsung, BT, Google, RBS, Toyota, PepsiCo, Nando’s, Stagecoach, OVO Energy, BBC, Samsung, Virgin Bank, Jaguar Land Rover, Channel 4 and HomeServe, to name a few, one could only wonder what they would want, need and expect from an agency if they could shape the perfect partner.

One of the most dynamic aspects about SHARP CO-LAB is that it’s going to continue evolving and shaping in real time – keeping the agency firmly at the forefront. And to deliver on this promise, Pinto asked all guests to participate on an AR co-create experience to help shape ‘the agency of the future’.

This not only allowed the room to see a co-create in action, but also sparked lots of interesting conversations about this ideal agency partner that SHARP CO-LAB will deliver for its clients.

 

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Co-create mechanics

  • Total number of teams: 10 – each one represented using a different colour
  • Participants per team: average of 10 (104 in total)
  • Total number of ideas generated: 280 (average of 28 ideas/team)
  • Duration: 10 minutes

The challenge we posed to all teams was to ‘Help us shape the agency of the future’.

Via an iPad app, each team had to submit as many ideas as possible over a period of 10 minutes by brainstorming with their team mates.

Every time they submitted an idea via their iPad app, a splash of their team’s color appeared on top of a 3D model of The Shard that looked like it was physically in front of them – using AR technology.

They were able to see how many ideas were being submitted by all teams in real time on the same screen the 3D model was reflected on.

 

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The results

All ideas were then grouped into 6 categories and analysed to represent what a large group of top digital leaders expect from agencies moving forward:

Attitudes

  • 52% of entries under this category are based on the ‘human’ aspect of the relationship clients would like from their agency partners. Honesty, empathy and the ability to listen are among the most mentioned qualities.
  • Openness to ‘collaborate with other agency partners’ was also a popular topic, as failing to do so introduces enormous risk for clients. That’s why 11% of all ideas generated in this category back this belief.

Talent

  • 30% of ideas indicate that agencies need to provide multi-talented teams in two ways; by ensuring that projects are resourced throughout with cross-functional teams and also with individuals who bring a variety of skills to the table – i.e. we want a developer that understands the commercial aspects of the clients’ business.

Client/agency relationship

  • A big theme found in this category is around the agency’s ability to challenge the client, its assumptions, other agency partners and even the client’s CEO (with the exact words being ‘set the CEO right’). 12% of entries support this thought.
  • ‘Understanding the client’s business’ and being ‘results driven’ include 23% of the ideas in this category.

Remuneration

  • There’s a huge desire from clients to implement ‘new remuneration models’, with 40% of ideas dominating this category.
  • Out of these, 62% would like to use a risk/reward model, with equity, shared IP and revenue share being among the top 3 models mentioned by our clients.
  • The remaining 37% of ideas revolve around the growing realisation that long term business outcomes should be the frame of reference for rewarding agency projects. Moving from input cost to outcome value is also up there when it comes to clients’ desire to come up with a fairer payment model.

Delivery & operations

  • The agency’s ability to ‘bring ideas to life fast’ is what stood out in this category, with 30% of entries. It’s exciting to see that clients’ desire around the concept that ‘Done is better than perfect’ is becoming a must. A speedy immersion into the client’s business followed by rapid prototyping (paper, 3D) are among the most popular ideas.
  • The above concept is closely followed, with 25% of entries, by the need for more ‘collaboration’; with a specific focus on ‘end user co-creation’ and ‘employee engagement’ in the ideation/solutioning process. Embedding junior client members into the agency team is perceived as a win-win for both parties involved.
  • 21% of this category’s entries called out ‘flexibility’ as a key factor in every client-agency engagement. Not only operationally (by being fluid toward a changing environment) but also attitudinally, making bold and brave decisions for the greater good (not afraid to pivot).

Offering

  • It’s reasonably expected that 36% of ideas in this category evidence ‘innovation’ as one of the key offerings clients expect from agencies; and stimulating to see that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the areas with most client interest within this group.
  • What isn’t usually offered as a service and that our clients desperately need is agencies’ connections and expertise as ‘relationship facilitators’. Agencies operate in a highly dynamic and diverse context, where businesses of all sorts converge in the middle. We can and should operate as an ally, spotting synergies for the big corporates and the small start-ups; but also among clients themselves. This is what 18% of ideas confirmed.

Haley

Haley

Marketing Manager