In today's business world, it's no longer the big fish that eats the small fish; it's the fast fish that eats the slow fish.
In the same way the information revolution has changed how customers and market share are won, it has also reshaped the old systems that once governed how companies operate and how people work. The future of business is more flexible, faster, leaner and smarter.
This is not just about adopting a amazon full-service agency telecommuting policy or forgoing the purchase of that expensive copier. It's about changing how business is done, both in philosophy and in execution.
The penalty of clinging to old business practices is losing clients that no longer can justify bills with unneeded overhead baked into them. As leaner and smarter companies emerge, the old juggernauts who are slow to change are quickly dying.
At the top of the scale of corporate bloat are marketing and advertising agencies. While not all industries can shed their physical offices and adopt a virtual model, the dominance of digital marketing coupled with the very nature of marketing's day-to-day business operations afford these agencies a clear-cut path to modern efficiency.
However, in reality, few have changed. The majority of marketing firms hang on to these old systems of operations, passing on the burden of their expenses to their clients.
Why? Most find changing their methods of operations to be just as hard as adapting to today's Web culture and the new rules of doing business. Too much has changed too quickly. In clinging to old methods - even those of its own self-promotion - the traditional marketing firm still maintains an expensive posture to attract its clients with their lavish offices and costly travel. These companies force work into physical locations, perpetuating the punching of clocks and shuffling of paper, while carrying years of old business operations in the form of debt, all of which must ultimately be paid for by the client.
There's a reason why marketing companies are dying left and right, beyond becoming irrelevant in the digital age. Today's clients no longer accept invoices inflated by bloated operations, particularly when virtual companies can do more at a fraction of the cost.
The rise of the virtual company
It took time for companies like Amazon, Netflix and Apple to revolutionize and overtake industries that were once based in bricks and mortar. Replacing the physical form was a challenge in reconditioning the mind of the consumer and in reshaping traditional systems, such as fulfillment, customer service and exception handling.
These initial obstacles were quickly overcome as consumers realized the advantage of lower prices by way of lower overhead, mutually beneficial partnerships and geographical barriers being torn down and giving way to an expanded market. Today, that same virtual model that started strong in the retail sector is being adopted throughout all applicable industries. As a result, virtual companies are growing at record pace.
2010 will see the emergence of the virtual company in full force. The convergence of technology, communication, new service-based companies and systems that meet the demands of companies that no longer carry the burden of bloated operations will allow more companies to work smarter, faster and from anywhere.
As virtual companies continue to refine their systems and clients continue to realize the value in receiving better service for less money, the virtual company will gain strength and overtake the outmoded traditional business models. This not only improves efficiencies but tears down geographical barriers to markets and talent.
As we enter the age of the virtual company, let's review ten things you pay for from traditional marketing agencies:
Office space is typically the largest expense on the books for marketing agencies. These obligations range from rented space in a shared office park to owning (and owing for) real estate, freestanding buildings and parking facilities.
Virtual marketing companies shed this expense because the nature of the business simply doesn't require it anymore. Marketing is digital, and print is dying. All the infrastructure that was once housed in a physical location is now replaced by a range of new digital services. Communication is conducted through e-mail, mobile devices, video conferencing and client dashboards rather than on-site meetings and client lunches, the costs of which are ultimately passed back to the client.
The marketplace demands geographic barriers be removed to hire, collaborate and partner with the best talent in the industry. The virtual company's employees work remotely within a virtual space that accomplishes anything that a physical location provides and more. They are mobile and available at a moment's notice to meet with clients. Even remote offices, meeting spaces and presentation rooms can be rented by the day or hour, as needed, so as not to waste money on a fixed building that sits there to house all the bloated systems and conventions the traditional marketing company clings to.