A Bank in your (Digital) Wallet

A Bank in your (Digital) Wallet

If there is a recent fintech innovation that can be compared to sliced bread, it has to be digital wallets. In less than the time that it took for people to start banking online, secure, fast and convenient digital wallets have taken over how people store and use money. 

Our physical wallets consist of a mix of cards that confirm our identity, cards issued by financial institutions allowing debit or credit as well as cards that collect loyalty points. A digital wallet seeks to combine all of the above, and then some.

A digital wallet, or an e-wallet as it sometimes called, is a software-based financial account that securely stores users’ payment information and passwords. With this technology, users can quickly complete transactions and pay for them. Digital wallets can be cloud-based or use near-field communications (NFC) technology. When used on mobile phones, they enable smartphone payments. A digital wallet can also be used to store tickets, loyalty cards, and coupon information.

It appears that while digital wallets were already becoming popular, in 2020 their growth – like with that of eCommerce – got another push. Market research firm Apptopia says that mobile app sessions on the leading money remittance apps – such as PayPal, Remitly and Xoom – surged 10.7% in the first two and half months of the year alone.

Digital cash for digital wallets

Before digital wallets, there were contactless stored value cards using RFID and NFC technologies such as the FeliCa cards in Japan, developed by a subsidiary of NTT DoCoMo and Sony. The technology is used by millions of commuters around Asia on rail networks and was used as the basis for NTT DoCoMo’s Osaifu-Keitai, Japan’s de facto mobile payment system.

The idea of digital cash – and the term eCash – however, was floated in a paper in 1983 by researcher David Chaum. Chaum tried to commercialize his concept – named eCash – in a startup that anonymized and encrypted transactions using public key digital signatures. eCash was the basis of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. However, it took until 1989 and the launch of PayPal for the idea of digital wallets to become widespread. Available for both Android and iOS users, PayPal’s relative ease of use has made it the widest used digital wallet globally. Customers have the option of paying with the app, which uses the same process as tap-to-pay options like Apple Pay, or swiping a PayPal Mastercard to make purchases in-store. PayPal also owns Venmo, the popular peer-to-peer payment app.

Technology companies were early into the payments game too. In Asia, communication apps WeChat, LINE, KakaoTalk, and Naver, all have embedded digital wallets. WhatsApp’s version is undergoing trials in India and Brazil first. Samsung Pay can not only be used with NFC but even with traditional magnetic stripe technology. Tech behemoths Google and Apple were later to the game but Google Pay – a combination of Google Wallet and Android Pay – and Apple Pay, supported on iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch, and Macs, are lumbering up to take on the competition. Apple Pay’s two-factor authentication including fingerprint (Touch ID) and Face ID means amounts that can be authorized are higher.

In the US, Walmart Pay uses QR codes – also used by Alipay in China – as opposed to tap-to-pay that relies on NFC technology. This wallet can also be used to organize Walmart gift cards, create shopping lists, store receipts, refill your prescriptions, and even find an item’s location inside your preferred store. 

Other players in the market include Cash App (released in 2014 by Square, and can only be accessed with your fingerprint for extra security), and also stores boarding passes, concert and movie tickets, loyalty cards and coupons. The app Due provides invoicing and time tracking but also offers a digital wallet and along with payment processing and banking capacities. They also happen to own the trademark on the word ‘eCash’ first promoted by Chaum.

Effects of and on eCommerce

With a boom in eCommerce this year, retailers need to keep up with their customers’ preferences for digital wallets and include all these options in their checkout. Here are some of the ways that digital wallets will impact the customer journey and the retailers’ balance sheets;

  • Customer behavior The companies offering these digital wallets – like the banks before them – have knowledge of their buying behavior in a granular sense.
  • Convenience: Not just for the customers who don’t have to open actual wallets, fill out forms or login online, retailers can also conveniently send and receive payments.
  • Reduces expenses Transfer fees and charges are much lower than on traditional banks. Some apps even allow retailers to eschew pricey POS systems.
  • Improved cash flow Credit card or check clearances can take a lot of time. Mobile eCash payments can speed up the process. Most transfers are completed within 72 hours with some even happening instantly. 
  • Conversion rates The convenience and speed while using digital wallets is one strategy that can help increase conversion rates and reduce abandoned shopping carts. Coupons, discounts, promotions can be beamed to customers in-store and loyalty points awarded.
  • More sales opportunities Since wallets are contained on phones, and most people carry their phones everywhere, location isn’t really a problem anymore. This increases sales opportunities making sales truly omnichannel.
  • Security With extra levels of authentication, a digital wallet is much more secure than a credit card. 

Digital wallets around the world

In Asia and Africa, where cash was formerly king, vast swathes of the population have sidestepped credit and debit cards to go straight to mobile payments. Alipay, offered by eCommerce giant Alibaba, and started out as an escrow service between eCommerce buyers and sellers is China’s leading third-party payment solution and digital wallet. In 2016, Alipay expanded to Europe to offer Chinese tourists traveling there a way to make in-store payments and receive offers and now has over a billion users worldwide. In India, its equivalent is PayTM. In Africa, and in particular Kenya, Vodafone M-Pesa allows users to deposit, withdraw and transfer funds, pay bills, and purchase mobile operator services. 

As eCommerce becomes more commonplace, digital wallets are starting to gain favor with customers and in turn, gain ground from banks. Square, for example, has received conditional approval to open a bank. Recognizing this propensity to transact online and on the phone, banks around the world are working on central bank digital currencies (CBDC) capabilities. 

Noting the banking-like features that digital wallets offer, Hong Kong and Singapore regulate digital wallets as stored value facilities. A new bill was tabled earlier this year in the US called the ‘Banking For All Act’ that mandates that all banks that are members of the Federal Reserve open and maintain ‘digital dollar wallets’ for all persons. The unbanked and the underbanked around the globe might fuel the next wave of digital wallets and we will be more digital money to fuel our digital lives.

SMOC: BORN’s Strategic Headless Framework

SMOC: BORN’s Strategic Headless Framework

Connecting the cornerstones of headless commerce for a secure and robust solution.

Having taken over the digital world by storm, headless commerce has provided marketers the tools to merchandise and personalize the customer journey. The innovative architecture behind headless decouples the front end and back end of your eCommerce shop to empower more effective content distribution while maintaining rich back end solutions. We’ve broken down the four major benefits of headless; Speed, Flexibility and Adaptability, Customization and Personalization, and Omnichannel in the diagram below.

The Benefits of Going Headless

Headless has changed the way we implement commerce solutions and manage content, and that’s why we at BORN have developed the SMOC framework to help break down how we approach a headless implementation. SMOC relates to four concepts; Security, Microservices, Omnichannel, and Cloud-Native that we structure our headless implementations around.

It’s critical that we consider security during a headless implementation when there are so many pieces being connected to one another. Securing both sides of content and commerce data in your solution is one of the processes we don’t find adequately covered in traditional frameworks – for us here at BORN, it remains our number one priority.

Ensuring effective cybersecurity for your commerce begins with effective fraud and cart solutions to prevent hackers from abusing your eCommerce functionalities. Headless solutions also conceal CMS functionality via layer abstraction, affording a level of privacy not found in a more traditional approach. The unique uniform data approach also ensures a more easily monitored system, given that features are not bound together where they can potentially bloat another. Other benefits of a secure headless solution is in its read-only APIs – with your solution decoupled, most APIs are processed in a read-only mode and therefore tamper free.  For potential security breaches of the backend, we advise a cloud-native solution so that support can be delivered at a much higher rate, and security protocols are standardized and up to date.

The next component of our framework is microservices which consists of a single application composed of many loosely coupled and independently deployable components. Microservices are bound by APIs and serve as the various use-cases in a build. In exchange for demanding a more expanded team of many experts, a microservice based implementation strengthens an offering by offering a wider array of functionalities that are not bogged down together in bulk as one might find in a traditional implementation. As these functionalities are maintained more independently, they can be reviewed and updated at a much faster clip than when these services are not bundled together as each microservice manages its own data and is self-developed. APIs in turn help exchange data between bundled microservices to quickly adjust and calculate throughout channels.

Next comes omnichannel, which is the ability to deliver a cross-channel strategy that improves user experience and ultimately, drives customer retention. An example in action is to consider how a customer ought to have the ability to switch from an in-store interaction to online, and then to a call-center with the consistency of a single cart and account recognition. Omnichannel solutions have taken the CX world by storm – by connecting multiple touchpoints with a single customer experience, brands widen their sales funnel to capture a far broader customer base. We’ve seen exceptional success in powering omnichannel solutions for brands like iShopChangi, Diesel, and Paul Stuart – with ample case studies that illustrate the success of omnichannel efforts in commerce.

However, legacy eCommerce systems can suffer when handling all the inputs and requests of the many channels available. Omnichannel solutions greatly benefit from strong headless solutions due to the nature of the decoupled CMS. Having a myriad of assisted channels to utilize your effective front-end will deliver exceptional user interest and a more seamless experience. By decoupling the two layers, developers can focus on specific channels when needed with far more precision.

Finally, we have Cloud-Native – this refers to the ability to scale your commerce solution infinitely, through holiday rushes and other events that would cause an increased number of users. Where Cloud-Native excels is by ensuring you do not need to rely on local devices, servers, or any particular machine in order to access the files that power your commerce solution. A cloud solution as Cloud Native ones both command a much stronger sense of security due to the cloud enabling support to assist any breaches much faster, along with scaling dynamically based on site traffic. As a result, Cloud Native empowers your eCommerce to be exceptionally nimble – able to navigate demand, disruptions, and any data breach.

Above you’ll find how these pieces come together under one SMOC layer highlighted in yellow. The swappable architecture above yields advances in security and omnichannel, while utilizing microservices bound by API managed in the cloud to deliver an exceptional service. Having a headless environment that is mindful of all of SMOC’s components is the foundation for any successful implementation.

For more information on BORN Group’s headless offerings, please reach out to Mackenzie Johnson, [email protected]

Best Practices: CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote)

Best Practices:
CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote)

Use CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) Wisely!

In recent years, businesses have adopted to CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) systems to provide configurable products as a personalization option for their customers. CPQ systems provide the flexibility for a customer to mix and match options available for a product they are interested in while simultaneously delivering a personalized end-to-end buying experience. Its also important to be mindful of launching the right strategy for CPQ functionality for your end customer, with a well thought out roadmap based on an array of factors including, customer behavior, business needs, and market trends. 

With that said, the adoption of CPQ isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it’s critical to start by answering the broad question, ‘Will this offering really accommodate and help the customer to make their buying decision?’ As we keep the customer at the center of everything we do, it’s critical to make the path to purchase completely seamless while simultaneously empowering the user. 

In most cases, the adoption of a CPQ strategy will have a direct impact on conversion rates and revenue. If the right CPQ strategy is not rolled out for the market segment that you are targeting it could spell disaster on conversion rates. Also, the longer it takes for the customer to complete the buying journey could directly impact the revenue. 

The broader considerations can be split further into more granular aspects as listed:

Customer Behavior

  • Age of the customers interacting actively with the brand.
  • The cultural background of the end customers.
  • Existing brand engagement metrics.
  • Market sentiments towards the brand.

Business Needs

  • Challenges in maintaining Product data.
  • Challenges in materials procurement.
  • Challenges in stock allocation.
  • Challenges in production for pre-configured items with demand.
  • Challenges in the maintenance of pricing for pre-configured products.

Upcoming Market-Trends

  • Trends are driven by social media and networking.
  • Innovation or market disruptions related to the product lines.
  • Transparency on pricing options.

It has become essential for businesses to strike a balance on having the right mix of options, messaging, and possibly gamification of the customer buying journey for a configurable product and also make it responsive enough to be delivered to any digital touchpoint where the customer interacts with the brand. Also, in addition to rolling out a product personalization feature to the customer, it is also important to monitor the interactions of the end customer with the CPQ feature. This provides valuable insights to allow you to improve upon your offering to ultimately enhance customer experience and conversion rates.

Apart from the major business considerations, it is equally important to choose the right CPQ product and eCommerce stack that can work well with your backend systems (ERP, CRM, etc.).  

All the above-mentioned considerations, analysis and decision making can seem intimidating. Here at BORN Group we specialize in CPQ and can help you to navigate a rollout strategy along with ongoing maintenance. Please feel free to reach out to Mackenzie Johnson, [email protected] for more information on our service offerings. 

How NetSuite Empowers The CFO

How NetSuite Empowers The CFO

CFOs are indispensable in today’s ad agency landscape, serving as crucial pillars of the executive team. They are expected to possess foresight and execution in economic planning, budgeting, and investment, along with important expansion efforts that account for not only financial but also the geographical growth of an agency. An effective and integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution is critical for enabling and navigating such growth, especially when agencies plan to expand across borders. 

Interconnectivity

Now more than ever, industry trends demonstrate an emphasis on expansion across national and international borders leading many agencies to follow suit and establish multiple subsidiaries around the world. Gone are the times when an agency needed to track only a single time zone. Instead, we’re witnessing a new global era in which agencies are feeling the imperative to expand their resources internationally and open outposts across borders. 

A CFO will generally view this kind of expansion—and rightly so—as a critical stage of an agency’s development. Expanding internationally allows an agency to increase its market reach while also growing their strength and financial achievement. A kind of chain reaction is also possible wherein the increase in revenue yielded from geographical expansion can enable further expansions into more and more remote locations. 

Global Flexibility and Modality

Mobility and flexibility are also important parts of the global expansion process. Agencies face changing processes that include tax and legal codes, financial regulations, and cultural differences, which shift across international borders. CFOs are encountering a need to move between such environments without the hindrances of yesterday. No longer do executives sit in a single office location while awaiting that elusive deal. So, what are the characteristics of this kind of flexibility? 

Agility is the keyword here. Today’s agencies are feeling the effects of a business landscape taken over by short-term agreements. No longer can organizations rely on Agency-Of-Record (AOR) relationships that at one point had been standard. This trend received the designation from Forbes as the Agility Era, a term that defines the increase in flexibility and streamlined production over stable relationships with agency clients.1 This kind of agility demanded is coupled with a drive toward globalization, thus ushering in an era of global flexibility and mobility. 

CFOs are therefore seeing a movement toward more cooperation with international partners since opportunities open up for working with more businesses through global expansion. Yet there are also important implications around such trends, which includes a heightened state of global competition. The stakes are now higher, especially for CFOs. There is indeed more pressure than ever to appeal to wider audiences while maintaining relevance across an increasingly international audience. CFOs have observed that growth is occurring today in multiple directions: horizontally, in physical space; vertically, in financial terms; and, diagonally, with agencies increasingly called up to open up across genres and other cultural divisions. So, what does this mean for CFOs and their infrastructure toolkit? 

How Netsuite ERP Solutions Empower CFOs

We’ll be exploring three different areas in which CFOs can gain a significant advantage by utilizing a truly global and integrated ERP solution. First, we’ll look at the global features afforded to CFOs in NetSuite’s highly competitive global ERP solutions. These features include valuable scaling tools that foster important financial growth schemes, built-in automation and accounting for international tax code variables, and, finally, tools for navigating financial compliance issues. Next, we’ll touch on some of the ways that, with its fully cloud-based functionality, NetSuite saves valuable resources by avoiding on-site upgrades and IT maintenance fees. Finally, we’ll take a look at NetSuite’s core CFO functionality that drives financial decisions critical for the growth of competition in agencies worldwide. These include Key Performance Indicator (KPI) tracking, multiple levels of visibility into financial transactions, and visualization tools that help you make decisions with unprecedented financial foresight. 

AN ERP for the Global CEO

As your agency grows, CFOs will need an ERP solution that can accommodate genuine international expansion with its global challenges. NetSuite is used in more than 100 countries and across over 190 currencies. It supports upwards of 19 languages and tax reporting in 50 different regions. This creates a centralized “version of the truth” that is accessible wherever you, as the CFO, may be viewing it.

Furthermore, managing tax codes and compliance across international borders can be challenging. However, with robust automation tools, many of the most vexing global hurdles can easily be overcome. NetSuite can further enhance such international features. It’s noted in Oracle’s own site that “a strong global ERP system should handle multiple tax schedules, be updated with the latest regulatory requirements, and automatically update currency conversion rates.” In other words, a truly effective ERP solution needs to handle the complicated terrain of international tax code filings. Multiple languages and currencies also come into play when considering international expansion. Your global ERP solution should facilitate—and indeed automate—such processes, rather than getting in the way of their smooth functioning. Oracle also notes that “because such systems can generate receipts and invoices in multiple languages, your customers can be assured that the documentation and information they receive always reflects the latest tax and/or currency updates for their location.” This allows agencies to scale back human processes and focus on what matters most: business outcomes. 

An Ownership ERP that Lowers Costs

One of the crucial aspects of obtaining and managing the use of ERP software relates to maintenance costs. After the initial purchase of an ERP solution, there are multiple questions that should be asked; how much will it cost to maintain? What kinds of services will be required on a yearly or even monthly basis? How frequently will upgrades become available? And how complicated are such software updates to install and become acquainted with? 

These are important considerations that every CFO should be aware of before purchasing an ERP solution. These considerations turn on cloud-based functionality versus on-premises solutions. With a cloud-based solution, software updates are done entirely remotely, with little if anything for the end-user to do in order to take complete advantage of new features and functionality. With a cloud-based ERP solution, there is no longer a need to schedule costly on-site upgrades in which an IT is tasked with costly physical work. Thankfully, NetSuite provides a complete cloud- based solution that contributes to lower IT costs for the end-user for updates. Similarly, installation is easy, with any station equipped with a web browser instantly becoming an ERP client – one can log on anywhere to access critical financial data. 

CFOs can even access powerful business information from mobile devices, an important feature that supports the imperative for agencies today to be constantly on the go. Can’t wait to finish your next game of golf to view some of the latest company financial trends? Need to send an urgent memo to the rest of the financial team? How about alterations to resource management that need to be done in transit? With the power of cloud-based mobile-friendly ERP, NetSuite facilitates the always-on-the-go CFO to access your data wherever and whenever you need through your mobile phones. 

Multi-subsidiary KPIs

An effective global ERP solution brings together important data points across multiple subsidiaries. Metrics, analytics, and KPIs provide invaluable insights that CFOs will become regularly tuned into. Interested in viewing figures from the Sydney subsidiary and comparing them to the New York office’s performance? What about utilization costs from the Singapore subsidiary? A CFO can access each of these data points through a customized login replete with dynamic KPI graphs and visualizations. One can see data displayed as a graph and view shifts in performance for any time window. Agencies in the process of expansion will find these features essential to their success. Toggle between time windows, and compare results in revenue. CFOs can drill down into multiple data points to reveal specific client information such as geographical and location data. This kind of insight is critical for CFOs managing competitive agencies in today’s global era. Achieve genuine foresight with lucid KPI data. 

We’ve seen then how NetSuite empowers CFOs through a genuinely global and integrated ERP solution. Global features and scalability allow crucial financial growth, while international tax code tools and financial compliance automation also solve some of the most difficult international issues. With its cloud-based functionality, furthermore, NetSuite is a truly economical choice because it avoids on-site upgrades and related costs incurred by IT. Lastly, NetSuite’s KPI tracking and financial visibility drive financial decisions and foresight that are critical for an agency’s growth in this global era.

Integrating ERP Systems Into Creative Organizations

Integrating ERP Systems Into Creative Organizations

Across the board, agencies are seeing a broad shift toward short-term, project-based engagements in place of the familiar Agency-Of-Record (AOR) relationships that dominated the agency landscape just years ago. In fact, Forbes once described this large-scale change as a result of The Agility Era, a phrase that poignantly captures the industry’s newfound preference for flexibility and streamlined production schedules over relatively unchanging client relationships. The question then becomes: what tools does an agency need to work effectively in such an environment?

In order to remain competitive, every ad agency today needs a robust ERP solution specially tailored to the current needs of the industry. There are myriad benefits of ERP software for all businesses, including the ability to integrate information and communication across business management, customer relationship management (CRM), human resources, distribution, and sales. But due to the ad industry’s global shift toward agility over stability, an even greater emphasis has been placed upon an ability to quickly organize data and integrate that information across key business areas. This is where an effective Agency Management ERP solution can make all the difference in the world for your creative organization. For the remainder of this whitepaper, we’ll take a closer look at just how ERP software is defined, how it can help creative organizations, and how ERP systems can be customized for advertising firms. We’ll end by noting that these benefits and more are included in BORN’s unique Agency Management ERP solution.

What is ERP Software?

Enterprise Resource Planning software refers to a category of business management applications that allow the integration, automation, and synchronization of a host of back-office activities pertaining to business management, customer relationships, sales, production, distribution, and human resources. In short, ERPs provide access to nearly every area of business operations through a single digital point of entry. While each of these areas demands a unique skillset to address ongoing challenges, an effective ERP solution allows unmitigated access to each domain for a real-time organization and business management. Key attributes of an ERP system include means for the top-level organization, bottom-level oversight, and synchronization between key business areas. Importantly, these areas of functionality are brought together into a centralized point of reference found in the ERP dashboard, an administrative panel that provides a “driver’s seat” interface for the entire range of ERP functionality.

One of the most important features of effective ERP systems is the ability to function as a kind of command and control center, a central point of reference for the top-level executives of the different branches of an organization. With this bird’s eye view, a manager or executive can, with minimal effort, glide between different areas of business operation and, when necessary, swoop down to sort out the details of a particularly problematic area. 

A case in point: a particular client appears to be slow to move forward on a new campaign. All of the elements appear to be in place, including a formal estimate, contract, and work order. Upon inspecting the progress log on this client, though, it becomes clear that they are currently still waiting on the client welcome package, a document that collects the timeline, milestones, project team, and deliverables in one convenient location for the client. Because this client was promised such a document upon agreeing to the contract terms, they continue to wait for it before moving forward. Such bottlenecks, while they may seem trivial, can pose significant detriments to the success of a creative organization.

This client management anecdote brings us to another important function of ERP software: the ability to provide detailed bottom-level oversight for specific business activities. ERP systems excel at allowing a broad-level view into business operations. Another area of strength is the kind of transparency into individual business domains required to quickly diagnose problems before they affect other areas of operation. Here’s an example: it becomes apparent that one of your agency’s top client projects is significantly behind schedule for delivery on an upcoming milestone. Upon looking into the project management dashboard, you notice that only one assigned designer belongs to the project, whereas such a workload clearly requires two or more on the job. So, after checking with human resources, you locate two internal designers currently without major commitments. With a quick email, you invite them to work on the high priority project. Problem solved.

The last important general feature of ERP software concerns the ability to synchronize across disparate areas of business operations. Many imagine synchronization as the heart of any business. Indeed, the image of a creative organization as a “well-oiled machine” is perhaps as old as the world of commerce itself. Successful synchronization of activities across different domains can transform a business from an inefficient operation with many loose ends to an optimized “machine” that regularly nails ambitious and high-visibility projects for high-profile clients. Practically, synchronization means that the aims of sales and business development match up with the numbers from finance and accounting, which feed flawlessly into human resources and resource allocation. Once the silos between these domains have been removed, the components can march in lockstep. When used correctly, an ERP can turn a business into a smoothly functioning creative machine.

ERP Benefits to Ad Agency Project Management

Many of the principal challenges for advertising agencies lie in the area of project management. How can a team remain on top of timelines, meet important milestones, and deliver a product that meets and exceeds the client’s expectations? How can teams avoid some of the pitfalls of communication missteps, scheduling conflicts, interpersonal issues, and exceeding project budgets? Each of these challenges can be conceived through the lens of project management, an area that, as noted above, has become increasingly important as creative agencies turn more and more toward working on a per-project basis. Indeed, without the security of AOR relationships, agencies must work harder than ever to maintain a consistent pipeline of projects. Thankfully, the effective use of ERP software can facilitate such a steady stream of client successes, which then translate into a consistent source of agency revenue. Let’s dive specifically into ERP’s four major benefits to project management: communication, scheduling, organizing time entries and invoices, and collaboration.

One of the most frequent and important problem areas for every creative organization is communication. So much rests upon the ability to obtain accurate information and convey it to the appropriate internal departments and, when necessary, to clients. An ERP can help facilitate clear and effective communication by providing up-to-date information in a given area and allowing one to cross-reference that data with the operations of another domain. Through direct database integration, managers can quickly match resource allocation to project needs and communicate these needs to executives or account managers. Similarly, a chief executive officer can ascertain which clients are optimal for the company to devote more resources to and which to scale back. Armed with such unambiguous data, communication between specific business channels becomes just as lucid.

Related to communication is the issue of scheduling, a task that becomes more complex as an agency scales in number and grows in geography. How can a creative organization, regardless of its size, coordinate between employees of varying status to ensure they are able to have effective meetings, on the one hand, while enjoying concentrated “heads down” time, on the other. Although seemingly straightforward, achieving such a state can pose quite a challenge—especially for agencies who work with talent (and clients) in multiple time zones. This is an area that the project management tools included in an effective ERP system handle with ease. With the ERP interface, a project manager can schedule meetings that bring together internal creative talent with the appropriate personnel in management to spearhead a project. An ERP can also help facilitate client meetings and keep track of both internal and external preferences for scheduling and time management.

Related to the issue of scheduling is the need for every creative agency to keep track of work hours as they pertain to specific projects, along with the ability to generate corresponding client invoices. In most agencies, designers and other creative talent work on multiple projects simultaneously. Using an external bookkeeping application can work in such a situation, although options for seamless horizontal integration remain limited. Want to correlate projected profitability with the current number of logged hours for a project? If you’re willing to toggle between at least three or four applications such a task is possible. But another, more streamlined, way to approach such a task would be to use the time to track features of an effective ERP solution. This data can be correlated directly to additional metrics such as profitability and specific financial goals.

There is perhaps no better-defining the feature of a successful ad agency than its ability to collaborate. From building internal teams of talent to working with external contractors to striking the right creative chord with each client, collaboration—the task of providing the conditions for people to work together—is a critical aspect of every creative organization. Project managers are often put in charge of making sure these important relationships continue to flourish in ways that are beneficial for all parties involved. Here, as with other areas, ERP software can be one’s best partner in the facilitation of the kinds of collaborative relationships that help drive a successful creative team. Specifically, by tracking information related to the personalities and preferences of each team member, an ERP can help project managers match talent to project in efficient and productive ways. To this end, project managers and executives combine high-level project data with low-level HR information to build composite images of how teams collaborate.

The above-mentioned benefits to ERP users focus on activities that typically relate to project management tasks. It is important to note, though, that the perks of ERP software extend far beyond those of a project management tool. Indeed, benefits to agencies using ERP software also include customer loyalty, increased revenues, reduced overall costs, and even data security. Customers receive consistent treatment across multiple projects, each of which is executed with efficient communication, time management, and collaboration. Satisfied customers come back for more work. And such results are even further enhanced through built-in ERP CRM tools. As a direct result of this increased activity, overall revenues increase and costs fall due to an increase in efficiency. Finally, because documentation, process flow, and project management are kept in a protected business area, as a result, the agency’s security is improved.

Customizing ERP Systems for Ad Agencies

The onset of The Agility Era has meant an increase in demands and expectations for ad agencies across the board. With a highnumber of projects and increased demands from clients and internal stakeholders, creative agencies need to be on the top of their game now more than ever. Out with the slow-moving and reliable AOR paradigm, in with the fast-paced per-project working model that dominates today’s ad industry. Along similar lines, while the emergence of digital media has opened up various online avenues for advertising, it has also sped up turnaround times. Jobs that would have been formerly delivered in five months are now expected in less than five weeks. Quicker turnaround times mean that jobs must be even more tightly organized with clearer communication between each part. 

Today, only with an effective Agency Management ERP solution can such demands for efficiency and productivity be met. Importantly, these ERP solutions work the way an agency works, providing simplicity for creatives, flexibility for client-facing teams, and control for finance. These customized ERPs help to manage the entire creative process, from engaging with clients to planning a job, scheduling resources, and project delivery through to billing and reporting on profits and utilization. Agencies ultimately deliver better client results, achieve higher margins, and make work more enjoyable for everyone with ERP software—whether an independent platform or as an integrated solution.

Why use BORN?

BORN Group’s Management ERP solution is unique in that it brings together the basic components of an effective ERP software tool (top-level organization, bottom-level oversight, and synchronization between key business areas) with ad agency project management features (communication and scheduling tools, time entry and invoices, and collaboration tools). By combining these key areas of business, project, and resource management, BORN’s Agency Management ERP remains the top choice for ad agencies worldwide. From a high-level view, BORN’s competitive Agency Management ERP solution brings you:

  1. Project and Resource Management – flexible and easy to use, this component accounts for the day-to-day management of jobs, people, and the creative process.
  2. Financial Management – this component provides complete visibility and control over budgets, finances, and compliance.
  3. Social Collaboration – streamlines communication for jobs across key departments and business areas and in order to drive delivery and meet client expectations.
  4. CRM Scalability – monitor the needs of each client more accurately by tracking resources, costs, and customer satisfaction.
  5. Manage Leads – keep track of lead generation through built-in CRM integration and lead management tools.

As noted above, these enhancements also lead directly to customer loyalty, increased revenues, reduced overall costs, and data security. Additionally, BORN’s solution has been shown to lead to increases in customer loyalty, which can be invaluable for ad agencies working in The Agility Era. Overall, BORN’s Agency Management ERP is a highly effective solution for creative organizations working in today’s fast-paced advertising industry.