Prabhakar Mundkur | Bay99: Collective Spaces means Collective Intelligence

23 Aug,2019

By Prabhakar Mundkur


Bay99, the new WPP campus in Mumbai, is a wee bit late considering that they have opened the WPP campuses in all the major cities of the world like Amsterdam, Hamburg, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Milan Bogota, Mexico City, Sao Paolo not to mention all the North American cities including New York and Chicago.


All credit of course for creating a collective space called the WPP Campus must rightfully go its founder Sir Martin Sorrell. Sir Martin had been doggedly pursuing the idea of a horizontal offering for at least ten years now.  Having been a holding group that acquired various pieces of business over the years, Sir Martin abhorred the idea of vertical silos that often became the primary enemy of agency companies, defeating all efforts of consolidation and cooperation.


Technology and the internet have in many ways spoilt us. Because it made us believe that the solution to getting everybody to work together was IT infrastructure, intranets and cloud-based file sharing systems.  But there is nothing better than working out of the same space to create true cooperation and collaboration amongst companies. Collective intelligence is not a problem unfortunately that only technology can fix.


What might have been the trigger for creating common working spaces for WPP companies? Certainly, on one hand client demands for better consolidation because clients wanted to take advantage of the scale of WPP.  But also, because there is a constant demand for coordination between the different companies and the parent group.  Sorrell once said “WPP’s 205000+ individual brains represent the planets greatest store of marketing services insight, expertise, creativity and experience.”


So Bay99 represents the collective intelligence of the WPP companies in Mumbai.  The companies of course might have to think a little differently.  For years Ogilvy, JWT, and other agencies in the WPP group saw each other as competition.  Now they might have to see each other as collaborators when they meet each other in the elevator every morning.  Not an easy task but they better get used to it.


WPP Mumbai HQ

The lounge area at Bay99, the all-new WPP headquarters in Mumbai. Source: Twitter

Bay99 is an interesting name.  Firstly it brings back memories of Bombay, and of course the 99 for old city dwellers gives an approximate indication of its location.  WPP’s objective has always been to be the anchor tenants on a piece of property. And so, it will be the anchor tenant with Bay99.  Situated within The Orb, a brand-new complex next to the international airport in the Sahar area, the location offers various amenities, including convenient transport and social options. The Orb complex will also offer more than 40 dining and entertainment options within walking distance for staff to enjoy.


In a first for WPP’s India offices, the co-location will bring together more than 16 companies under one roof, with a space of 380,000 square feet over a 10-year lease.


Bay99 then will be the best manifestation of the horizontality mantra first made famous by Sorrell.


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