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Management advisory Observatory International to open Dubai office

November 22, 2015, gulfmarketingreview.com

Global management consultancy The Observatory International is opening its Dubai office this month as the hub for the MEA region.

Set up in 2006, the company has established its presence across Europe, US, Asia and now the MEA region. The Observatory International has already been working with clients such as Toyota, BMW, Mini and FrieslandCampina in the Middle East through its offices in London and Hamburg, and aims to strengthen this relationship as well as expand its clientele with the opening of the new office. Rahul Kalia, partner, MENA region, will lead the Dubai office. The company offers four core services: agency search and selection, compensation and remuneration, performance measurement and resource optimization.

Agency search and selection
Stuart Pocock, managing partner, UK, says that this is a key service for the MENA market. “We’ve got a suite of online to align clients on their requirements and then, using local industry knowledge, go out and source the best possible agency,” he says. Roth’s process shortlists four agencies that participate in a pitch managed by the regional partner. The company was set up with the premise of “delivering global expertise with local insights,” explains Pocock. While Roth’s presence in other markets ensures “global expertise”, Pocock adds that he’s very conscious of taking care of the local nuances as well. “People have tended to take a brief from the client, grab a boarding pass and fly to Shanghai and run a pitch there, thinking it’s all the same as London and it’s not,” he adds. Although it varies by market, this service is the biggest element of Roth’s suite of services.

Compensation and remuneration
This service ensures that clients are paying the right amount to agencies, which includes benchmarking agency fees, looking at the scope of work and making sure the agency is costing it appropriately. Pocock says that this area is “where there will probably be most resistance [from agencies] because they assume that our role is to try and reduce the amount of compensation, because we’re hired by the client or the marketer.” Yet, he insists that the company tries to strike a fair balance. However, agencies might still be unreceptive to this intervention and may prefer to remain in charge of matters such as client relationships and compensation. Kalia clears any airs of agencies being overpaid, as “there’s no clear correlation between what an agency is investing into the client and the output.”

Performance measurement and resource optimization
Roth also works with clients to analyze their internal structure and develop KPIs, provide training, as well as assist with the structuring of agency rosters and internal marketing team structures. Optimization as a service is growing in more developed markets such as the US and UK. “We’re in a situation where the whole marketing arena is becoming more complex and clients are finding it really difficult to navigate. It’s complex, but it’s only going to get more complex,” says Pocock. In a way, Roth’s aim is to “future-proof” clients, while also looking at how clients are organized internally. He adds that, although sometimes clients have an efficient agency roster structure, if they aren’t well organized internally, the process of working with the agencies won’t be a smooth one.

Training is a big area in developing markets such as Singapore, says Pocock, and certainly has potential in the MENA region too. For instance, Singapore as a market “has got a lot of expats at senior levels and, at a junior level, [employees] aren’t very experienced,” he explains.

Speaking of potential in the MENA region, Pocock sees agency search and selection, as well as training, as the two services gaining the most traction. “When we’ve come into the market, first of all people go, ‘Who are you and why are you here?’ But, as the process moves forward and they see real organization best practices being applied, they tell us they’re appreciative,” says Pocock.

Considering that such a service is rather unique – at least in the region – it’s hard to estimate how agencies will receive the intervention of a middleman in an industry where there are already multiple partners; but, as Pocock says: “It’s a very level playing field; no one agency is given an advantage over the other” and, at the end of the day, “no agency is going to do its best work if it feels it’s not being fairly compensated.” – See the article here



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