All eyes are on consultancies like Accenture and Deloitte in the ad world, but R/GA continues to face the creeping threat by bolstering its own consulting services. The agency just appointed Steven Moy as U.S. chief technology officer.
In his new role, Moy, who most recently served as CEO of Isobar U.K., will lead R/GA's technology consulting practice in the U.S., which works closely with the shop's business transformation practice. "We don't see clear lines of delineation," he said, adding that business transformation is a multi-disciplinary approach.
R/GA consults with Fortune 500 companies such as Walmart and Campbell Soup Co. on innovations strategy. "The consulting business is not going to disrupt R/GA," Chairman-CEO Bob Greenberg told Ad Age in a previous interview. But "R/GA will disrupt the consulting business," he said at the time.
Moy, who relocated to New York for the position and reports to Exec-VP and Global Chief Technology Officer Nick Coronges, said he has a lot of respect for the consultancies, but R/GA has something unique that keeps it competitive.
"R/GA's 'connected by designed' concept brings all capabilities with a single DNA together culturally, combining creativity, technology and innovation, so we can execute flawlessly," he said.
The digital transformation business, however, may not come easily to agencies.
"Some agencies will push into the transformational consulting space and succeed; as a matter of fact a few already have; but my guess is that many more will try and fail," said Matt Ryan, CEO of Roth Ryan Hayes. Those that will succeed, he added, will have to persuade clients that they have the talent the disciplined process to assure positive outcomes.
Greg Paull, principal at R3, said he views it more as a "be careful what you wish for" sort of thing for agencies because digital transformation is not always CMO-led and has so many moving parts.
While Ken Robinson, partner at Ark Advisors, said agencies often use the term digital transformation improperly, linking it the launch of a new site, content hub, mobile strategy or AR and VR elements in a campaign.
"A true digital transformation is when a company decides to lean into a digital-first approach to its business -- not only or even from a consumer communications perspective, but within the organization itself," said Robinson, adding that it's sometimes more about migrating operations, like inventory and sales, via digital channels.
According to Moy, agencies must able to deliver new disruptive or innovative products and services on behalf of clients in order to be set up for the future, which requires understanding consumers' wants and needs as well as creating products to test and launch in market. R/GA, he said, uses all those capabilities, including its expertise in consumer insights and design, to leverage the right technology.
"There are so many technologies out there. We need to help clients find the right technology, protect their technology investments and help them monetize on existing and new technologies," Moy said. Some of R/GA's past technology inventions include NIKEiD, Nike+, Nike Fuelband, Beats Music and Fossil Q.
Prior to serving as chief executive at Isobar U.K., Moy was U.S. chief commerce officer at the agency, consulting on brands like McDonald's, Kellogg's, Coach and Huawei. He also previously served as VP and business lead at SapientNitro North America, where he spent nearly 10 years working on clients such as CVS and Staples.