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Employee burnout leads ad firms to adopt tech, automation to ease workload

WPP Plc, the world's largest advertising and communication firm, has recently signed a global partnership with Microsoft to move its content production work into cloud. Photo: APPremium
WPP Plc, the world's largest advertising and communication firm, has recently signed a global partnership with Microsoft to move its content production work into cloud. Photo: AP

  • Burnout complaints from employees after an exhausting year of work from home model with countless virtual calls/meetings and greater time spent on co-ordination, has led advertising agencies to adopt workflow tech

For Priyanka Borah, vice-president – client servicing at Dentsu Webchutney, Google Slides have become the go to place for ideation and feedback on work-in-progress campaigns across the brands she handles. Once the project starts, Borah said, the Google Slide document link is sent to clients as well as creative and account management teams. The comment section of the document becomes the feedback loop which has replaced email interactions and calls with the client. Relevant teams respond to the queries posted by clients.

“It created trust among teams because they can read the client feedback directly and things are not in translation. Accountability has also increased because anyone can respond to the client query. Even in finance, hard copies of invoices, which were once seen as valid documents, have now been digitised reducing the processing time from two to three weeks to two to three days," she added.

Burnout complaints from employees after an exhausting year of work from home model with countless virtual calls/meetings and greater time spent on co-ordination, has led advertising agencies to adopt workflow tech.

MullenLowe Lintas Group has launched an online workflow system which has everything including client brief, agency brief, team assigned, deadline and scheduling of meeting for a particular project. Presentation and client feedback will also be uploaded.

“We were introduced to the Workflow System which went live on 1 May. It is an organized approach to keep a real-time track of jobs which helps in smooth operations, especially, while juggling multiple businesses," said an executive from the agency.

Virat Tandon, group CEO, MullenLowe Lintas Group believes that the new system should reduce the number of meetings/video calls as they have stressed and tired people out.

“This should make at least 20 to 30% of the virtual meetings defunct and give people some breathing space," he said.

Six months ago, the advertising group also developed a blockchain technology backed procurement platform for film production related work. Using the platform, the agency reaches out to multiple production houses, takes their quotes and gets approval from client virtually.

“It not only reduces the procurement time but also promotes transparency in terms of cost. We have also created an internal freelance portal where freelance artists/writers/planners/project managers have uploaded their portfolio and costs which has been pre-vetted. So, if a project requires specific expertise freelancers can be leveraged using that portal," added Tandon.

Dentsu said that it is incorporating online tools and technology to automate operations, people management, workflow to finance related tasks.

“People practices are undergoing a change at Dentsu. We are putting together processes which do not require direct human interaction. For instance, we have tied up with banks for host-to-host payments. There is no need to go to banks for physical verification of payments. Teams can simply upload the invoices (both client and vendor), payments can be auto-transferred and also tracked in real time," said Anand Bhadkamkar, CEO at Dentsu.

Meanwhile, DDB Mudra Group is also using multiple technology platforms to reduce human intervention for mundane tasks or follow ups. The agency is using workplace management tools like Asana and Jira, for collaboration and project management while working remotely. For virtual brainstorming sessions, the teams use Miro, which is an online collaborative platform.

“We also use cloud tools like Omni & Q and Envato for strategy planning and templates. While Asana helps manage, track, and automatically schedule tasks, Weekend Trackers ensure that people are not always burdened with work to avoid any possible burnouts," said Aditya Kanthy, CEO & MD, DDB Mudra Group.

WPP Plc, the world's largest advertising and communication firm, has recently signed a global partnership with Microsoft to move its content production work into cloud.

Lloyd Mathias, business strategist and former Asia marketing head of HP Inc noted that traditional advertising is said to thrive on chaos. However, in the current situation, where people are handling a lot more pressure, dealing with a raging pandemic, lockdowns and income uncertainty, it makes sense for agencies to infuse technology to make their business more process driven and transparent.

“This would help make people more accountable to tasks and timelines and manage deadlines better. To a certain extent, the creative side of advertising has been a laggard in adopting technology which will be addressed by such initiatives by agencies," he added.

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