The Innovation Issue – SURVIVING OBLIVION





Digital agencies were once comically referred to as companies consulting big corporates on how to use Facebook. But, this isn’t the case anymore. The stakes are high, and companies have realised that to thrive, they have to transform their businesses and how they engage customers. “It’s a matter of life and death,” says Rohan Jayaweera, Chief Operating Officer of Antyra, a digital services company. As of recently, the conventional role of digital agencies like search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising has been challenged. Generic, off-the-shelf solutions have lost light in the advancement of Artificial Intelligence and automation in online advertising and programmatic buying. “We are not under any illusion that we can sustain our business under that system over the next 2-4 years,” says Jayaweera. The company today invests 10-15% of revenue in developing technology-driven proprietary platforms.

But, it doesn’t end there. Jayaweera strongly advocates a holistic understanding of the organisation as an essential prerequisite to harboring the full potential of digital. This is where most digital agencies lose the plot, according to him. Traditionally, agencies tend to focus on delivering point-to-point solutions ranging from developing a website to conducting an advertising campaign, missing out on the overall business objective of the client. “Everybody talks about scale, not many people talk about fostering deep relationships,” he says. “You need to understand the industry, the business and how the decision making works to deliver outcomes that make a difference to that business.”

Antyra’s choice to manage a limited client pool has served it well. The company has doubled year-on-year revenue since its inception three years ago. The future of the digital agency is a cross function bent towards new technologies like virtual reality and analytics. “To deliver a client’s business objectives, just being a marketing company is not sufficient,” he says. “It takes time, effort and resources. You can’t scale all of that overnight.”