Picture: 123RF/DANIIL PESHKOV
Picture: 123RF/DANIIL PESHKOV

Somewhere between the opinions of the doom merchants and those of the bliss mongers there’s rising buoyancy across a number of industries. And with cautious optimism comes the unzipping of wallets.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it expects the world economy to grow by 6% in 2021, up from its 5.5% forecast in January. For advanced economies, the IMF estimates growth of 5.1%, with the US set to expand by 6.4%.

What is driving the most positive global outlook in a year are vaccine rollouts, financial support from many governments and a light at the end of the restrictive lockdown tunnel.

SA firms creating strategies for any eventuality

SA companies were hard hit, and most received little fiscal assistance, but the marketing and advertising industries fared far better than many, particularly in the digital arena. The Independent Agency Search & Selection Company (IAS) is already starting to see movement among the more progressive firms to source the talent they know will best serve them in any eventuality – another lockdown, or borderless business and the freedom to meet.

Marketers who had robust relationships with their agencies will be looking to build on those relationships and further solidify their combined ability to serve brands. Agencies, too, are seeking best-fit solutions, either by creating an in-house digital division or by including outsourced expert digital operations in their blueprint for strategy for 2021 and beyond.

The big take-out:

Now that both marketers and agencies have showed their mettle in the digital sector, there are fewer barriers to entry for local firms to handle work from foreign clients.

As noted by Emily Cashen in World Finance magazine, while tentatively scoping out a post-pandemic future, “governments around the world will need to shift their thinking from ‘survival mode’ to focusing on future economic growth”. We believe companies must do the same, with a view to changing what didn’t work over the last 12 months and investing in what did.

Meeting the future by strategising now

Key among the latter has been digital infrastructure and ongoing training for staff, not only to meet today’s Covid-compliant requirements but to be ready for whatever may be needed tomorrow.

Now that both marketers and agencies have showed their mettle in the digital sector, there are fewer barriers to entry for local firms to handle work from foreign clients. Upskilling talent on a regular basis, or outsourcing specific jobs to trusted solo or smaller firms, is vital to ensure your ability to work from anywhere, with anyone.

While not all economic upswings are equal, SA’s output is expected to grow 3.3% in 2021, according to Deloitte. Even though this is comparatively low when viewed in the context of global growth, the feeling across our industries is one that is in that cautiously hopeful place between the doom merchants and the bliss mongers. And after what 2020 brought us, this is not the worst place to be.

 

  • Johanna McDowell is the CEO of IAS and partner in Scopen  SA and UK.
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