From analytics to advertising, agencies and consultancies are covering more and more of the same ground.
Consultancies have always evolved along with the latest technologies. As digital advertising and marketing have gained in popularity in the last decade, consulting firms have increasingly seen this service offering as an attractive add-on to their existing expertise. Likewise, digital agencies have seen how consulting firms gain access to high level executives in firms, and they have sought to add analytical expertise along with their design services.
Various publications have written about the great convergence and even ever changing definitions of what makes a consulting firm and a digital agency. Below is a review of how the marketing and consulting media see how this battle may evolve.
Services Expand and Overlap
An article in Digiday stated that digital agencies are not only competing with each other, but are also competing with consulting firms. Consultancies are actually acquiring digital agencies or even launching entire digital divisions, outright. One person interviewed by Digiday stated: “We’re running into very formidable competitors across non-traditional agencies, including large consultancies that are reinventing themselves. They’re showing up to RFPs regularly, and in many cases, even winning.”
Some consulting firms that have digital arms are focusing on such specialties as user experience consultancy, digital design and overall digital brand strategy. Their competitors, digital agencies, are also building their own consulting firms. Both industries, it appears, aim on disrupting each other. In an article in Advertising Age, the author contends that creative agencies must start thinking like consultancies in order to thrive. The article indicates that the struggle between industries is now at a “fever pitch” for 2017.
Hubspot profiled some of the features that give consulting firms an advantage over digital agencies and vice versa. They indicate that, firstly, consultancies are highly skilled at finding specialists that have a wide array of skills. The Hubspot article goes on to explain that consultancies may have a better “bigger picture” view of a client’s strategic needs, while an agency may be more narrowly focused on creativity. This creativity, however, is where the agencies gain their strength over the consulting firms. The structured set-up of consultancies may make innovative design thinking more challenging for them, but creativity has always been a hallmark of ad agencies.
PAC-online contends that this convergence is a “race” amongst two capable industries. Both sides need to be experts in technology, strategy and design in order to meet clients’ demands. The changing ecosystem includes a multitude of mergers and acquisitions, as well as the creation of entire new business units. PAC-Online sees the consulting industry’s existing strong relationships with C-suite executives as a great competitive advantage in expanding into digital agency services. They also see digital agencies expanding their domains by introducing themselves to CIOs and explaining their analytics and big data capabilities.
As business acquisitions continue and business divisions open and expand within the consulting and digital agency industries, clients will have numerous choices when deciding upon which advice and skills are desired for their digital branding pursuits. Perhaps both industries will be victorious if they can successfully integrate vast business expertise and digital design excellence.
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