Guide Sponsor - James Briscoe, Deputy MD, unique digital

James Briscoe, Deputy MD, unique digital Since the world was thought to be flat and at the centre of the universe, making predictions has been difficult and can prove hilariously off the mark. Just ask Thomas Watson (1943 chairman of IBM) who said, "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." Or see if Bill Gates stands by his comment that "640Kb ought to be enough for anybody". Some predictions may merely be ahead of their time: Sinclair's dream of the mass adoption of electric cars seems just down the road now, and maybe the year of the mobile is a prediction that will finally come true one day.

On the basis that the future will be borne from the present and the past, the year ahead for unique will be fantastic. Our last has been a great one. We've seen a rebrand across Europe, had a relaunch of our bespoke media management suite Darwin, recruited some great people and worked with some amazing clients on whose behalf we won two awards in search.

Of course, the market has changed, recession continues to bite and marketing budgets are in decline. However, digital and specifically search continue to grow and a straw poll of our clients echoed the new performance focus: "All the money I spend on search is measured, so I can spend based entirely on performance." Somewhat different from John Wanamaker's position of, "Half the money spent on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." It's a tough market but the agencies that ensure they continue to deliver volume and ROI to clients through rigorous measurement and optimisation will excel.

So as Howard H Stevenson says, "Prediction is at least two things: important and hard." Important because we have to act, and hard because we have to realise the future we want and understand how best to get there. The companies that win out will have already acted, listened to their clients and consumers and have the route map to hand. You can quote me on that.