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The ‘four pillars’ of agency maturity

Econsultancy’s Progression of Agency Value report looks at the challenges faced by agencies as they attempt to adapt to a rapidly changing market. 

The report, published in association with Adobe, presents a broad-based model for agency maturity incorporating the essential component areas arising from the research (data, technology, skills and culture).

I’ll summarise these four ‘pillars’ of agency maturity after the jump… 


The world of digital marketing is awash with data. The ability to collect data, be selective about which data points are important, and to apply them to fulfil particular objectives can help agencies to differentiate themselves. 

There are challenges here. Where agencies are looking to increase their own data collection capabilities, there are often issues around data ownership and IP, and difficulties in using data across clients.

According to Richard Sedley, Strategy Director, Foviance: 

It’s not necessarily the case that the more creative you are as an agency the less you need data capability and knowledge. The agencies and clients doing this well are the ones that use technology to enable decision-making based on data, and have the people and skills in-house to do it properly.


The ability of agencies to commission and use sophisticated third-party technologies, and develop their own bespoke in-house tech solutions will become ever more important. 

Those agencies that can use technology to increase understanding of campaign tactics, generate unique services for clients and generate and measure ROI can gain a real competitive advantage. 

An e-commerce director quoted in the report says agencies should:

…maintain an oversight of emerging technologies and channels. Advising on the potential implications in our sector and the best strategic approach to embedding them in our plans and processes where appropriate; including timings, test plans, budget implications, likely impact on other channels, competitor approach etc.


Combining the use of technology with the staff who possess the skills and talent to make the most of this is increasingly important for agencies as they attempt to differentiate themselves.

Consequently, there is a demand from agencies for tech-savvy staff with technical skills, especially those who are willing to adapt and find new solutions to problems. 

Training is a challenge here, and our research found that this was patchy across the industry. Some interviewees mentioned a lack of investment in this area and how most training is on the job, though some agencies place more importance on this. 

James Caig, Deputy Head of Strategy, MEC:

Upskilling is important, not only in specific capabilities but also company-wide training that helps align around a common purpose, and identify specific skills and capabilities of people across the organisation so that increasingly diverse types of people can come together and work together in productive ways.

Another challenge for agencies is identifying and recruting the right people for the role. This report’s author Neil Perkin has previously discussed this digital talent time bomb


To survive and make the most of technology, agencies need to foster a culture of innovation, and to have the ability to adapt quickly. 

The right culture is seen to be critical to attracting and retaining digital talent, and fostering the best working practices. A key part of this is the integration of digital skills, knowledge and thinking throughout the agency.

A Global eMarketing Leader interviewed for the report: 

[Agencies need to] be fast, flexible and able to work collaboratively as part of a team. I think many agency models are still very old fashioned with lots of their own internal bureaucracy and inefficiencies that ultimately the client ends up paying for.

In order to download a complimentary summary of the Progression of Agency Value report courtesy of Adobe, please visit

To download the full version of the report, please visit the Econsultancy website:

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