While the digital media and web design industry is thriving and has no end in sight, the traditional full-service agency model is severely broken. The paradigm is starting to shift but it has a ways to go yet. The new model, that is the direction agencies should be shifting to, is co-creation and collaboration.
When you try to cover every possible position imaginable, in-house, your agency's creativity and innovation suffers due to always being concerned with cash-flow and having enough of it to cover all those high-dollar creative salaries. Don't get me wrong, the salaries are warranted... the talents we have in our industry are mind-blowing and some of the things we've been able to create, or better yet, some of the problems we've been able to solve, are just incredible! However, when your company has too many of those high-salaried employees, it's hard to not have a large focus on being able to consistently pay them and still make some sort of profit.
So the new model of co-creation and collaboration allows agencies to be more specialized and operate much more lean but also being able to service clients' needs through strategic partnerships with other (complimentary) agencies that specialize in their own niche.
Another critical component of successful collaboration, whether it be with other agencies or even within your own team, is to have more of a flattened organization. By leveling the field. so to speak, it helps to feed collaboration because a "subordinate" is not so afraid to offend a manager with their opinions and ideas.
With 16 million new websites being launched each month, it is a great time for cross-discipline learning. If you’re an early-stage web developer, it’s also important to know about late-stage design. If you’re a graphic web designer, it’s important to understand early-stage development. These cross-discipline skills feeds even more into the idea of co-creation and collaboration.
It's also just as important that the C-level principals in the agencies that deliver those 16 million sites understand the need for strategic partnerships and co-creation with other agencies. Our industry is one of the most collaborative of all, if you stop and think about it... we need to make our agency model revolve around that concept.
At X-Static Media Group, we do specific things really well and have strategic partners that are way better skilled and staffed than we are, for the other things our clients need. Clients in our industry are very accepting today, that you have strategic partnerships with other agencies. All they care about is having the best solution delivered, for the best price possible. Gone are the days when you have to hide the fact that you don't have every single position in-house.