Introducing The Forrester Wave™: Digital Experience Service Providers

Coauthored by Anjali Yakkundi
“We can improve your digital customer experience with our strategy, design, and technical chops.” Does this pitch sound familiar? Digital agencies, consultancies, and technical services firms are all racing to be your digital customer experience partner. They have merged, acquired, and built new practices to meet the multidisciplinary needs of both technology and marketing leaders. 
Anjali and I evaluated this market — the digital experience services market — to find which vendors are best suited to help marketing and technology buyers deliver digital customer experiences. The result was two reports, one written for technology leaders and one written for marketing leaders. In both, we evaluated the top 11 vendors — Accenture Interactive, Deloitte Digital, DigitasLBi, IBM Interactive Experience, Infosys, Isobar, MRM//McCann, Razorfish Global, SapientNitro, VML, and Wipro — and probed into their strategy and customer traction. Our criteria spanned three main areas: 
  • Digital customer experience strategic consulting offerings.
  • User experience and design offerings. 
  • Digital experience platform implementation and integration offerings. 
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Why Performance-Based Agency Compensation Doesn't Work

I embarked on the topic of performance-based agency compensation because I was getting A LOT of questions about it. Mostly, folks wanted to understand how to structure it. 

As I set out to answer that question, I uncovered a topic that is probably one of the most hotly debated topics in the industry. People are passionate – on the agency side, on the finance side, on the procurement side, and on the marketer side. Everyone has an opinion.

So, instead of doing a straightforward report on how to structure performance-based compensation, I took a step back to dive into whether performance-based compensation is actually achieving the desired results – which is better performance from agencies.

I found that:

  • Performance-based compensation, as it is most commonly structured and applied, is being used as a stand-in solution for a much larger issue – the fact that CMOs are having a very hard time measuring and explaining the impact of their agencies' work on ultimate business outcomes.
  • Adding financial incentives to agency contracts gives organizations a way to measure the impact of agency work and assign that impact a monetary value.
  • These organizations are not getting better work from agencies because of this. And by using performance-based compensation as a motivator, they are missing an opportunity to truly motivate their agencies.
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Innovation Agency Wave: Learn more about the 10 agencies driving innovation

I am very excited to announce that the Innovation Agency Wave is now live! 

Marketers need data, technology support, ideas, experience design, and change management — not just channel expertise — in order to differentiate themselves in the age of the customer. To accommodate, agencies are redefining their core competencies to better align with three areas of marketers' demandinnovation around products and business models, integration of channels and customer data, and implementation of enabling technology systems.

This research reminded us that "innovation agency" is a label that Forrester assigned to agencies with specific aptitudes. Most agencies don't have neatly packaged innovation offerings. But those we reviewed do offer strategy, change management, customer experience, and design and development services — capabilities that are core to enabling digital business innovation. Since CMOs may not find a standard blueprint for an innovation agency, this wave provides guidance as you review potential innovation agency partners. 

In addition to the report, please make sure to download the interactive scorecard tool to build your custom wave and gain a more in depth look at each agency.

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to all of the agencies that participated.  The teams that I worked with are all so talented and put in a lot of time and effort, which I appreciate. 

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It’s Time To Revamp Your Agency Roster

Continuing the theme of agency selection, my next report, Revamp Your Agency Roster To Lead A Connected Brand Experience (subscription required), came out yesterday. 

This report helps CMOs reorient themselves to the shifting agency landscape and identify partners to help move them from channel expertise to leading a connected experience.

In establishing this new model, CMOs must partner with agencies to:

  • Create transformative experiences
  • Craft and distribute a connected brand story
  • Deliver technology to drive a connected brand experience

This report makes up the Performance Management module of the Brand Experience Playbook.

Please reach out to schedule an inquiry if you would like to discuss further.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Screen For These Four Criteria During Your Next Agency Search

Being asked to pitch for a new piece of business strikes both excitement and fear in the hearts of many agency folk.  When I started research for my latest report, The Fit Test For Strong Agency Relationships, there was no shortage of people who wanted to weigh in on how to make the process better for both CMOs and agencies. 

After many interesting and spirited conversations, I settled on the four things CMOs should screen for when selecting an agency to help drive their business forward in an increasingly competitive and real-time environment.

Check out my report (subscription required) for a how to guide to screen for:

  • Vision: Does they agency’s vision for the future of consumer behavior, technology and marketing align with yours?
  • Experience: Can the agency provide a fresh perspective to your acute business challenges?
  • Passion: What is the agency doing to create a culture where its employees are passionate about coming to work?
  • Process: Will the agency be able to enact change across your organization?

If you are interested in discussing your next agency search or how to get the most from your current agency relationships, please schedule an inquiry with me.  

Navigating The Post-Digital Agency Landscape

I recently joined Forrester’s CMO team as a principal analyst covering agencies — the world where I spent most of my time over the past 15 years. I have been fortunate enough to have worked at thriving agencies as they have undergone major change: Avenue A as it built out its media capabilities and tools; OMD at its start — merging four strong media divisions to form one media buying firm; and for the past five years, 360i as it grew from a search powerhouse into an award-winning full service digital agency.

As marketers shift their focus to become more customer-obsessed, agencies are evolving to provide the strategy and services needed to usher brands into the age of the customer. My research will focus on how CMOs can navigate and nurture their agency relationships and how agencies can evolve their businesses in the post-digital agency landscape.

I explore this further in my report "Brief: Business Models Determine Agency Strengths," which details the role of an agency’s business model in setting its focus on innovation, integration, or implementation.

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