Exploit Vs. Explore Mindset: Gartner Magic Quadrant 2018


Exploit Vs. Explore Mindset: Gartner Magic Quadrant 2018

Kristin Scheve

To view the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Global Digital Marketing Agencies, click here: https://gtnr.it/2qZFVym 

How is it possible that the thing that makes an organization successful is also the thing that leads to their ultimate demise? Ask Blockbuster. Or Blackberry manufacturer RIM.

Gartner recently published their annual Magic Quadrant for Global Digital Marketing Agencies (March 2018). For the third year in a row, Digitas has been named a Leader, and we’re in good company. So, how did we all do it? How did we build companies that can “drive client growth through its interpretation of marketplace trends and deliver transformational technologies or approaches that meet marketers' future needs”? 

One word (well, three): an “Explorer” mentality.

What is an explorer mentality?  Professor Michael Tushman at Harvard Business School has a beautiful way of describing the challenges organizations deal with today. He calls “doing what you’re really good at” Exploiting. This was Blockbuster renting VHS. It can also be thought of as the bread and butter of most media agencies. Delivering a tried and true plan that is backed by MRI insights, validated by ComScore, and proven by reach curves from a proprietary tool. It’s good. It’s necessary. It’s the backbone of what our industry was built on. It’s how most of us make money. But a single-minded focus on exploiting what you do well is a road we have seen too many beloved brands take, and it does not always lead to long-term health. There are many bodies of work that delve into this principal. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen goes into detail on disruption causing great companies to fail, and Tushman teaches an entire course on this topic. (full disclosure: which I am currently enrolled in at HBS.)

Okay, Exploiting. Good, but on its own it can be dangerous. So then what? This is where Exploring is critical. Looking disruption in the face, and actively deciding how you will adapt and conquer. Think about how publishing has adapted to e-readers. How all retailers have been forced to adapt to (not to mention compete with) Amazon. It is not easy to do both, and do them well. Especially when your bread and butter is profitable. Doing both Exploring and Exploiting is what has brought Digitas to the top for the last 3 years.

Instead of bragging about what we’ve done over the last 3 years to maintain this position, let’s bring it back to today. 

It takes vision and commitment at the highest levels.   

In order to maintain a Leader position, from our vantage point it takes a few key factors: 1.) Leadership. Having fearless leaders who are veterans that only push us more toward providing more value to clients. 2.) Access. As part of Publicis Media, we can truly bring together all of our assets to explore and exploit. Because it’s not about one or the other. 3.) Clientele. We could not have done this alone: We are lucky to work with some of the best explorers/exploiters of our time that allow us to do our best work, and push us to the top of our game. 

The Gartner report reads “To match the CMO's broader remit and fill critical gaps, marketing agencies and consulting firms are expanding their digital transformation capabilities.” Our clients are taking on more, so we must take on more, too. As the industry continues to unfold, we’ll be ready to keep exploring.

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Digitas.

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