What does the agency of the future look like?

If you've had enough of millennial moans, Brexit boos and digital doubts, then it seems you're not alone. Agency leaders and industry influencers are having a new conversation and it's about the future, not what's happened already. A four month study by the MAA has sought our views on what's coming next for agencies and the resulting report is optimistic about the market for creativity, collaboration and cultural evolution.

Agencies are evolving to become great partners for clients who face many pressures in the current climate; including time, market complexity and technological expertise. Because the business landscape is changing at the speed of light, business leaders need to be able to react quickly, respond strategically and find the best route through an ocean of tech enhanced possibility.

This is exactly where agencies can help. The successful agency of the future will function as an expert partner and, ultimately, creative, committed and couture campaigns will kill off the 'one size fits all' approach. New and productive relationships will move away from the idea of 'buying in' creativity and strategy and, instead, will become a collaborative, top-to-top partnership.

Ever increasing scrutiny of results by metrics ensures that there is real motivation for clients to work in this way and agencies must ensure that we can provide well informed, market savvy and expert strategists to help them formulate unique and specific solutions. Agency leads need to be able to work flexibly to bring data, tech and channel savvy confidence to the creative conversation with individual clients. Although the agency/client synergy is central, its complexity demands that agencies are given the permission to take the lead in areas which are not their clients' primary domain.

Clearly, working as partners/leaders, demands excellence and expertise and, more than ever before, agencies must recognise that people are their most valuable asset.

Increasingly, to be the best means getting the best mix of generations and talent. There is an interesting tension between seasoned brains and youthful vigour and getting the balance right builds a vibrant, happy culture. It is important that we create a culture in which new talent and experience, rationality and emotion can come together to produce brilliant work. Diversifying talent beyond a single London pool and making the most of bright freelancers as swift providers of relevant knowledge can be a flexible, bespoke strategy that supports diverse clients.

In order to attract and establish an amazing team, agencies of the future will be savvier, more streamlined and more sensitive in their approach to employee wellbeing. It is crucial that agencies have an emotionally intelligent management strategy that reflects the high value that they place on their people. By understanding and empathising with the strains and stresses that surround the work/life balance, and supporting employees with the right training and great working environments, we can enable them to let their expertise and creativity shine.

We must all be prepared for the challenges ahead, but the overwhelming feeling from the survey was one of excitement, rather than fear, or worse, complacency.

Agencies of the future can thrive if we put creativity, collaboration and the right business culture at the top of every to do list.

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