Bringing business to Barcelona
13 Apr. 2016
Five reasons why contracting Spanish digital agencies is a viable option.
Last month saw 100,000+ mobile industry professionals touch down in Barcelona for the industry’s premier event, The Mobile World Congress. Every year, the show brings with it wave of anticipation from big businesses to app start-ups, all looking to edge ahead in a very competitive market. The busy schedule of meetings and stand-guarding doesn’t often leave much time to enjoy and appreciate the city, more importantly, notice the business opportunities that MWC has helped create. Digital growth in the Catalan capital is at an all-time high; the booming start up scene and vibrant agile community is beginning to attract international investment, in turn boosting innovation and bringing in quality talent from all over Spain and abroad. Following the well documented eight year period of harsh recession, there’s now signs of recovery, according to WSJ, “Spain was the top performer among major European economies last year, expanding at a vigorous 3.2% pace.” And while tourism, a dominant force in the city since the urban renewal for the 1992 Olympics – meets with some resistance from Catalans, the new wave of business coming in does not. The growth has enabled companies based outside of Spain to consider investing, deploying and partnering with Barcelona based companies, and in particular digital agencies. As an Englishman working in Barcelona, here are five main reasons why I believe UK companies should consider investing and partnering with Barcelona-based digital agencies:
Many might assume cultural and language barriers would get in the way of effective business communication, but in fact the opposite is true. Agencies in Barcelona understand the importance of communication and allocate the necessary resources to skilled multi-lingual teams. The city is a melting pot of cultures, (not least because it’s geographical position in Europe) and it’s not unusual to find experienced talent clearly communicating in two or more languages. Booking.com, eDreams, SAP and Skyscanner are among many big corporations employing high performing multi-lingual staff to run their European operations in Barcelona. Talent is therefore available to cater for new international business.
Translating Agile Culture
As with language and communication, company culture is also an important factor when considering partnering abroad. The active agile community in Barcelona is gaining momentum through the start up scene and the increasingly popular MeetUp groups that provide a hotbed for creativity and shared learning. Working with a progressively agile digital company or partner means you’ll work under the Agile Manifesto, a framework that should at least resonate with your own company culture, not just for software development, for which it was first applied, but for all projects, management processes and even sales & marketing functions. If you’re unfamiliar with the framework, it’s core values emphasize customer collaboration, transparent communication, continuous improvement that welcomes change and always creating value, applied and practiced on a global scale. In my opinion, it creates the perfect environment for a partnership with a digital agency.
From Bristol to Barcelona:
With over 50 weekly flights from London to Barcelona and the transfer from El Prat Airport to the city taking the same time as 5 stops on the underground, even commuting is a viable option. While the cost of transport on land keeps rising, be it by train or car, the frequency of flights by competitive airlines have made European travel cheaper at times than the National Express. This has to be an attractive proposition for any client looking to break the mould by working with an agency based in a beach city with sunny weather all year round. I also mentioned the geographical position, meaning it’s well situated as a launch pad for EMEA travel, so as lovely as Bristol is, business lunches eating tapas in the sun are a more viable option.
With the reduction of physical barriers comes the elimination of communication barriers through the use of virtual platforms such as LeanKit, Pipeline, Slack and of course Google Hangouts. Being able to communicate through these tools shows that the future of work environments is mobile and therefore partnerships need to be as well.
This is possibly the most obvious point: the exchange rate allows for a mutually beneficial partnership. While the Barcelona-based agency will be providing the highest of quality you'd expect from an experienced, well-rounded agency, without compromising on their own price, the client benefits by not paying inflated UK rates. It's a win-win situation. With a booming start-up community (one quarter of Spanish technology start-ups were created in Barcelona, with 60% of them operating overseas) driven by lively agile thought leaders, there are more and more reasons to build and develop in Barcelona, and not just benefit from the laid-back beach city vibe (although that must have an impact on the creativity). The digital transformation that has been helped significantly by internationally attended shows like MWC is having a knock on effect on all sectors: GSMA creating programs such as mSchools and the ever more established 4YFN. The city’s recognized cultural flair is starting to transfer over to business, and so it should. Companies such as Barcelona Global, whose aim is to attract international talent and economic activity to Barcelona, are also working on a number of programmes to promote international business partnerships, and help small agencies compete on a European if not international scale. If all this can’t convince you, then just think of the tapas…