Ten Minutes Becomes an Hour

I begin this post with a special reflection of gratitude. Yesterday I gave an “interview” to one of my company’s Products Directors. Ben and I shared an enriching conversation in the conference room, discussing things both industry-related and personal. This conversation wasn’t uniquely special because it happened in Beijing – it was special because of the content discussed. When I originally asked Ben to sit down with me to address company questions I’ve developed, I intended for a brief chat. However, this “brief chat” quickly transformed into an hour-long engagement. Ben is extremely knowledgeable about technology and business, and above all he is an optimist who encouraged me on my career pursuit. He provided invaluable industry advice about the future of technology, and I left with great insight about certain trends to look out for. I am grateful for this amazing interview, a special moment among many in this city.

My knowledge of the technology industry has grown tremendously since working in China. Digital advertising is an extremely competitive field, which means clients have many choices when seeking 3rd party services. Primarily, clients consider 3 components when shopping for agencies like MullenLowe Profero (MLP): quality, timeline, and cost. Companies cannot thrive in the industry if they don’t excel at delivering quality, comprehensive services. Additionally, strategic management is necessary to ensure low operating costs and reasonable project timelines.

MLP retains its average client for 2-3 years, with companies often returning to MLP later in time. The industry is fast-paced and ever-changing, and because clients are constantly shopping the market for cheaper technical solutions, retaining clients can be challenging. Above all, the industry rewards adaptability. Future technologies may displace certain fields in the future, and organizations which fail to understand these disruptors will fail. For instance, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will likely transform certain software development responsibilities. Digital agencies must be quick to react and redevelop their internal processes.

MullenLowe Profero is a prominent player in the digital transformation industry, and it boasts many strengths. Most importantly, the company is proving to be adaptable. In the near future, for instance, it is relocating much of its technical scope from Beijing to Chengdu. Chengdu is much cheaper to work in, and the company can pass these savings on to clients. Another of MLP’s strengths is its reputation. The company has served several notable industry leaders, including Apple, Harley Davidson, D-Link, and many others. When prospective clients see this list of clientele, they are more inclined to conduct business with MLP. Companies such as Apple would not invest in MLP unless it was confident in its services.

MLP is strong, but it certainly has opportunity to improve. Despite being a large international company, for example, it has not established a strong social media presence. The Beijing branch acknowledges this shortcoming, and management has informed me that they’re designing an Instagram page specifically for Beijing’s office. Also, I personally feel that the company can implement stronger video marketing on its website.

Like any company, MullenLowe Profero has certain weaknesses. At the Beijing office, I’ve noticed a high turnover rate in employees. Most people I’ve spoken to have worked here for fewer than 3 years, and although I’ve only been here for 5 weeks, 2 employees have already left to work elsewhere. Turnover is a challenge in any tech firm, but nevertheless, it likely imposes a significant cost for MLP’s management.

The technology sector is expanding exponentially, and this growth has created intense competition among firms. MLP is no exception. Moving forward, its largest threat is its competitors. Clients will be quick to leave MLP if other firms are cheaper, faster, and/or of higher quality.

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