Agencies are reinventing, and digital transformation is leading the way

In the words of Jon Williams, Joint Global Leader, People and Organisation at PwC:

“As individuals – actual human beings – what do we need to do to thrive and prosper in whatever the new world brings? The secret for a bright future seems to me to lie in flexibility and in the ability to reinvent yourself.”

As the world continues to adapt to the challenges thrown at it by the COVID-19 pandemic, agencies will need to take on this mindset of reinvention if they want to remain competitive. And digital transformation lies at the heart of this.

Digital transformation implies the adoption of new technology to improve and innovate vital business processes and services. According to the IDC, it’s predicted that 70% of all businesses will have increased their adoption and use of digital technologies by 2022. Post-pandemic, embracing digital transformation will be a necessary step for agencies who want to ensure their business processes, customer engagement, employee productivity and business resiliency remain ahead of the curve.

Here are some of the emerging trends that will impact agencies in 2022 and beyond, with digital transformation being the key to whether your agency thrives or throws in the towel.

Remote working is here to stay

Once upon-a-time, remote working was an office perk, relegated to cutting-edge companies such as Google or creative start-ups. But over the last two years it has become a necessity in order for agencies to survive.

Professor Roshni Raveendhran, whose research explores the integration of novel technologies into the workplace, believes in the future many businesses will consider making remote-working a “long-term reality”. And he says that “one key challenge pertains to missing social connection, the feeling of being part of the same group”. Without this social connection, company culture gets impacted and communication lines may break. Added to that, employees working from home feel the need to be online 24/7, to ensure they’re not assumed to be sleeping on the job. This sort of unspoken pressure poses a great risk to employees’ mental well-being and work-life balance.

Agencies will need to put processes in place that help to maintain company culture and employee engagement amongst remote workers, and give employees the right tools to manage their time.

Data will drive the customer experience

While the world changes, customer purchasing habits are also changing, and some of those habits will be permanent.

All it takes is one competitor to make a smart marketing move and suddenly you’ve lost clients or prospects. Now, more than ever, you’ve got the opportunity to access massive amounts of data on the clients you’re targeting, and use these key insights to create smarter, more customer-centric campaigns. There is a greater need for the integration of creative elements, media, data, sales, customer relationship management and technology.

Sales and marketing teams need to be able to utilise everything from a prospect’s personal details (name, surname, age), to location, to environment, in order craft and deliver the right campaigns and the right communication, at the right time.

It’s all going to come down to how quickly agencies can innovate based on their ability to gather and interpret data, and whether they have the right system in place to do it.

Integrated processes are key for agility

In a previous piece, we spoke about how siloed information systems are out, and integration is in. When the processes in your agency – resources, finances, reports, communication, management – are fragmented and uncoordinated, all operating on different programs or platforms, you’re at risk of inefficiency and unproductivity, which ultimately impacts your bottom line.

The future will see an increasing number of agencies adopting a digitally-driven, Integrated Business Planning (IBP) framework.

Practically, this looks like an all-in-one system that allows you to access data from various agency functions, all in one location, so that it can be used more efficiently to make decisions, seize opportunities and keep your agency agile. Especially with many employees working remotely, it’s imperative the various functions of your agency are not getting in the way of each other, and have clear paths of communication.

Does your agency need to embrace digital transformation in 2022? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What systems or processes does your agency have in place to ensure accurate time-tracking, so employees can be held accountable without overworking?
  • Do your communications happen on one platform or multiple platforms?
  • Are your project management systems easy to access for remote workers?
  • Does your CRM solution easily collect contact lists and record sales activities?
  • Is your sales team getting real-time marketing information?
  • Are you using technology that can drive one process from the initial touchpoint to the pipeline, to a closed win?
  • Does your current system inform you why you won or lost a client?
  • Does your agency currently operate on a variety of platforms or systems?

Digital transformation is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s an imperative in order for agencies to survive in a world that requires constant innovation and agility – and especially now, in a workplace disrupted by a pandemic.

According to Shawn Fitzgerald, research director, Worldwide Digital Transformation Strategies, “Organisations with new digital business models at their core, that are successfully executing their enterprise-wide strategies on digital platforms, are well positioned for continued success in the digital platform economy.” A report by Deloitte in 2020 stated that the implementation of digital technologies can help accelerate progress towards enterprise goals such as financial returns, workforce diversity, and environmental targets by 22%.

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