FEATURE17 November 2009

Blurring the boundaries between MR and consulting

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Earlier this month Nunwood CEO Clare Bruce hailed a “major coup” as her firm appointed former Accenture Marketing Sciences global president James Walker as its new chief strategy and development officer.

Walker’s CV includes global leadership roles at Mindshare, J Walter Thomson and a spell as chairman of Brand Science, and after a career working in research, strategy and consulting he feels that the boundaries between the disciplines are blurring as clients look for a one-stop shop.

“It’s all about who can be best placed to help the client,” he said, “and what I’ve seen is that if you’re dislocated from the data collection and not close enough to the data, that makes it harder to interpret the results and formulate a strategy for your client.”

An agency that can blend its findings into an actionable strategy for clients is what the market is demanding, Walker says – if only to keep costs down at a time when everyone is watching their outgoings. His role is to make Nunwood that agency, having been tasked by Bruce with leading the “ongoing transformation of the company’s consultative approach, client services and international strategy”.

“I think separating out research, consulting and data analysis [from the client’s point of view] effectively means you’re paying multiple overheads and you’re paying several times for people to get up to speed with your business,” says Walker. “By having a supplier or business partner who is at the intersection of original research, analytics on that research, technology that then embeds that into their organisation and a consulting process that enables the client to make the best results of the strategy they’ve come up with – that makes far more sense to them than dividing all that into different parcels and educating the vendors about how their business works.”

After spells with established international companies, Walker said it was the “opportunity” to oversee Nunwood’s international expansion plans that lured him to the firm. “The opportunity is almost ideal now,” he said. “Clients are now looking for the right solution and that can be the the right-sized agency with a more imaginative approach.”

Nunwood has broader expansion plans than the opening of four new offices around the world, which Walker will be responsible for, “be it through acquisition, developing independent business units or partnering”. “What we need to do,” he said, “is go global and bring a wider range of services to clients.”

Walker said technology is a “key” part of the firm’s offering, and part of his remit will be to oversee the development of services that enable clients to use the results of data that Nunwood research gives them.

@RESEARCH LIVE

2 Comments

11 years ago

We at Volume agree with James Walker; technology capabilities and analytics complement each other to provide clients not only with impressive ROI but this integrated approach ensures deeper insight and continuity across the strategic offering. By being involved from the data capture and analysis through technology development to business strategy enables the most effective marketing plan.

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11 years ago

Ever wondered why the bigger consulting companies (not advertising agencies) have not moved down the value chain to include market research? It's because it creates a conflict of interest- As a true consultant advising a client, it is impossible to impartially recommend that research is required, then assist in finding the best supplier, and then recommend yourself for the work.

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