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Why ways of working are shaping our plans for 2020

Callum Donnelly
Callum Donnelly
Digital Products Director 21 Jan 20207 minutes read

Callum Donnelly provides an insight into the trends influencing the focus of our Product teams in 2020 and beyond.

2020 is going to be a big year for our Product teams, huge in fact. You see, over the last few years we’ve been on a bit of a journey, growing like crazy, working with some amazing clients and delivering some excellent work. However, towards the end of last year we stepped off the rollercoaster and reflected on the direction each of our Product team business units needs to take to be fit for purpose and relevant in the coming years.

We’re seeing a number of trends in the Digital sector that will not only define the services we offer our partners in the future but more importantly change how we deliver those services. In a sector where service differentiation is so difficult, ways of working are the difference for Etch, the secret sauce if you like.

So what are those trends and what do they mean going forward?

Whilst in-housing is the goal, organisations are struggling with it

It’s no secret in-housing is a huge trend and movement in digital. Organisations are busy building internal teams in the areas of strategy, innovation, design, development, marketing and everything in between. It makes sense right, it’s often cheaper than paying a digital agency or consultancy, you get a team that focuses on your organisation 100% of the time and you can trust them because they’re employed by you. Cool…until it doesn’t work.

Our Product team often sees internal teams delivering too slowly, ineffectively or worse still not delivering at all. Most often its brilliant talent that is simply bogged down by broken process, legacy technology, siloed thinking or a lack of an outside perspective.

But if the people are brilliant, surely the people don’t need changing. So, what does?

Most often it’s the delivery framework and processes. Increasingly the role of our Product team is to unlock the potential of internal teams by setting up, augmenting, training or working as part of internal teams to coach, train and instil best practice. We call this delivery design.

The days of throwing a brief with a fixed budget and fixed deliverables over the wall to an agency are thankfully dying, instead working side by side with internal teams brings transparency, builds a connection that challenges traditional master/servant relationships, client ownership and in turn this helps the trust thing! 

In-housing is not for everyone

Of course in-housing doesn’t apply to everyone. SMEs often don’t have the budget or the need for a full-time, in-house design or marketing team but although less frequent they do still have the same needs.

However, with smaller budgets and less of their time focused on digital, executional thinking and practices can creep in. All too often, the bigger picture gets forgotten, a project by project approach is taken, launch it move on, launch it move on, with no long-term thinking or roadmap. This problem is often compounded by agencies who simply take on the overflow of execution work without guiding their clients on the bigger picture and opportunities.

Our Pulse team believes organisations in this space need a thinking and an execution partner. A partner that considers the businesses strategy, content, design, products, SEO, paid and organic marketing channels, the list goes on. And even more importantly they must have a continuous improvement mindset. Not project by project, campaign by campaign but test and learn month in, month out.

The above is intrinsically linked to an organisations digital maturity and more than ever our role will be to guide partners from wherever they are on that journey to a place that delivers measurable results and outcomes over and above the status quo.

Take what’s great and apply it to different contexts and challenges

The digital consultancy of the future looks very different to the consultancies we see today. The Etch of the future looks very different to the one we see today.

Execution is great. However, great products, great design and great marketing are fast becoming a given. It’s no longer enough. The value is in delivering all of these things whilst also delivering something more. It’s going beyond the brief, thinking beyond it and delivering beyond it.

For example, the Etch Play team specifically focus on digital products and marketing for the video games industry but they set their bar much higher than simply delivering great work in these areas.

In video games, the experience is everything and we will be taking that principle and applying it to everything we do. Stumbling upon this thought in our recent business planning process was a light-bulb moment. It became a metric for everything the team does – is what we’re delivering simply a straight forward website or does it extend the gaming experience online? If the latter, great, if the former, go back to the drawing board. A simple but highly effective way to focus the minds of our team and partners.

In Etch Sprints we’ve taken a similar approach. How do we take everything that’s great about the Design Sprint and apply it business design, organisational design, business strategy rather than just product? Taking the principles from something great, that works and applying them to a different context or situation is a common theme we’re going to be taking at Etch this year to diversify the services and challenges we can help our partners with.

Team of Teams

A final thought to leave you with is the power of the multi-disciplinary team. It’s not a new thing, far from it and yet we still go into organisations where there’s a design team, a development team, a marketing team etc who talk to each other occasionally at best and collaborate even less than that.

At times we’ve been guilty of that at Etch too and that’s why early last year we split our teams to ensure each was multi-disciplinary and going forward into 2020 we’ll be even more focused on putting fluid teams around a project with the skills required to solve a partners problem or challenge - a team of teams if you like! We see time and time again the magic that comes from different perspectives. The power of a strategist, designer, marketeer and developer working together to find a solution none of them would’ve got to without one another.

In 2020, we hope to help more organisations break down silos, collaborate more and see the magic for themselves.

You can read more about how the above is influencing each of our teams below:

Etch Play - https://www.etchuk.com/insights/introducing-etch-plays-mission

Etch Pulse - https://medium.com/etch-pulse/delving-into-the-continuous-improvement-mindset-c5b0d1208cab

Etch Products - https://medium.com/etch/a-new-decade-now-what-494904ee36d1

Etch Sprints - https://medium.com/etchsprints/etch-sprints-in-2020-86d982817022