While most Americans like to think of themselves as technologically superior (after all, didn't our Vice President invent the Internet?), when it comes to wireless we're still playing catch-up with Japan and Europe. It certainly won't be that way for long, however, and to prepare for the expected wireless explosion, David Eastman, agency.com's director of m-business, has been given the mandate to migrate the New York-based interactive shop's 120-member European wireless practice to the U.S.--Jennifer Owens
IQ: How is agency.com preparing for the coming wireless invasion?
Eastman: First of all, we're having to do a big retraining of staff over here because the way that you write content for wireless is different from how you write for regular Web sites. Not hugely different, but different enough that you couldn't just sit down and do it without a week's course somewhere.
We also plan to put our strategy people here together with those in Europe. We'll be educating them about how the market grew in Europe. It might not be exactly the same over here, but certainly there are lessons to be learned.
We'll also do a lot of workshops with our existing clients. Because just as our clients are leaning back thinking, "Wow, we've got our Web sites up and running," suddenly a new channel comes along and it's a whole new headache.
What concerns are you hearing already from clients?
The question we get most frequently is that clients want [to know whether we can] create legacy systems to use what has already been created for the Web. The answer to the question is yes, but the software is all rather primitive at this moment. But the market is moving very quickly, it's very competitive and it's very promiscuous as well--people are doing partnerships left, right and center. No one's really sure who will be left when the dust settles.
How many members of your existing European practice do you plan to bring over to the U.S.?
Only a small number to sort of virally infect the people here with what we've learned. Just about every client in Europe who's talking to us about Web stuff now has to talk to us about wireless as well. It's being gradually considered as just another delivery channel, and you won't be able to look at wireless in isolation anymore.