Outlook 2020: The changing nature of relationships
Nate Robinson
Issue: November/December 2019

Outlook 2020: The changing nature of relationships

At its core, our business has always been about relationships. Organizations that are able to build close client relationships grounded in collaboration and mutual trust are the organizations that succeed and thrive over time. That's as true today as it was when we first founded Ntropic over 20 years ago. So, to that extent, one could argue that our industry remains much the same as it's ever been. 

However, I would also say that the nature of those relationships has changed significantly, and that's making a big impact on the way we do business. Today, brands and agencies are constantly re-orging. Contacts no longer sit in the same role or even the same organization for five, ten, 20 years. It’s more important than ever that companies in our line of work stay top of mind and continually create value — becoming a valued partner that cares more about the client’s projects than even the client does. 

How do you sustain a business when so many opportunities go to the lowest bidder? How do you maintain a creative force and keep them fed, both financially and creatively? The key is that studios must be intelligent, calculated and strategic about the way they manage their relationships. Strong business relationships are built on value. To stay relevant, studios must find clients that value what they bring to the table. That only happens when studios are at the top of their game creatively. Otherwise, they get stuck in the lowest bidder pond.  
These pressures are driving a few interesting trends that we've seen manifest in every corner of the business. We're seeing the end of top-heavy organizations stuffed with leadership who take home enormous salaries but don't contribute creatively. In today's industry, you won't survive if you're weighed down by partners who don't make anything, by stakeholders who aren't aligned on the company vision, or by a team that takes three or four months to make up their minds.
Today's studios must stay lean while maintaining an independent, global presence. Companies are embracing nimbler, more agile teams that can do the work — teams where everyone is always working, everyone is committed, and everyone is a “maker” who feels they are making a tangible contribution in the effort to create something truly great. As client-side trends continue toward the unification of creative across all global markets, every company will find itself under increased pressure to deliver the same quality for less money, and in shorter time frames. In the years ahead, I think we'll find that the most successful studios will be those that put the work above all else, investing in agile teams of people who are best-in-class across disciplines. 

Nate Robinson is the founder and CCO of Ntropic (www.ntropic.com). The company has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and London, and offers a full range of production and post production services, including direction, design, VFX, motion graphics, editorial, grading and finishing.