As in-house agencies have evolved, the most future ready among them have acquired a combination of skills to ensure their competitiveness within the industry, despite an ever-changing marketing backdrop.

They have adopted the vision, strategic planning and customer centricity of a CMO—assuming responsibility for the corporate brand while facilitating revenue and growth objectives. They have embraced the fiscal accountability of a CFO by analyzing, reporting and managing expenses to deliver sizable corporate savings in the form of cost avoidance.

The attributes of a COO have also infiltrated the ranks with “creative operations” as a rapidly advancing competency—focused on automating and optimizing systems, tools and processes for increased efficiency and accuracy. Now a CTO persona is starting to emerge, aligning with the requirements to advance digital maturity.

Effective digital marketing extends beyond display ads, social posts, site traffic and SEO rankings. It relies on an underpinning of marketing technology (often referred to as the martech stack) to create, monitor, manage and optimize compelling customer experiences.

If the next frontier for in-house agencies includes martech and adtech, we need to take a closer look at our resources to ensure that the technologists required to guide us there are on the team. It’s not enough for Corporate IT to come and go. In-house agencies need a technology plan and dedicated talent to support front-end and back-end marketing systems.

In my last post, I mentioned a field study on which I collaborated with IHAF and Forrester Research. The overriding intent of the effort was to assess the digital maturity of in-house agencies and the data demonstrate that many have arrived. The findings also show that the common denominator among the digital literati is technology. The question for in-house agency leaders today is how far are you willing to go to evolve what has traditionally been a creative services organization into a digitally sound, technologically sophisticated marketing communications powerhouse?