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Of Course, Technology Will Solve the Talent Question
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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When we first entered into the agency world of advertising, there was always one caveat industry professionals told us: "Agencies usually have a 'revolving door' at the building; just grow some thick skin." In our short time in it, that has been close to the truth. We have experience, and know plenty of young and old talent who have jumped around from shop to shop, looking for a home. Now, after finally setting some roots, we have begun to hear the cries from execs about the lack of smart talent, or the inefficiency of using the talent they have. Instead of fixing the leadership and thought processes that permeate through agency ranks, they turn to the only thing they know without having to leave their comfort zone.

Technology. 

Joe Mandese from Media Post reports that investors in the advertising world are giddy about a new "talent management platform" called Namely, which was created by a former WPP executive and Media Post contributor, Matt Straz. The platform is supposed to help agencies, account teams, and management teams keep better tabs on the talent they have, where they are, what accounts they are on, and how they are using their time. Goodbye spreadsheets, timesheets, and other materials that forced people to be responsible for actually knowing people and where they are.

Straz, a pro from the digital and general media cloth, believes this will optimize the management of talent that agencies pride themselves in having and retaining.

We are happy to see great minds and deep pockets pay attention to the issue of talent and its use inside agencies. But this sounds much more like an HR program tweaked for an ad agency. Call us crazy, but maybe implementing a program that concentrates on where the young talent is in the agency, why they are gathering there, where the most creative are going, and developing an evaluation tool to see if they believe the agency is cultivating a creative environment for them to thrive might serve a better use. It is easy to find people, but it is harder to find the ideas and reasons or elements existing that suffocate the ideas and creativity.

If the agency cannot keep track of where its people are, perhaps George from AdScam is right — Big Dumb Agencies (BDAs) do exist.

Well, the "talent management platform" is in its startup stages, so maybe we'll be surprised with what they come up with.

And maybe not.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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