Business Consulting vs Agency Business | thedigitalfellow

The Business Consulting Vs Agency Business

15 Oct, 2022


In the 1970s & 1980s, Kolkata, was the prime location for all big corporate/advertising agency headquarters, boasting of having a maximum talent pool of creative brains.

Gradually, the big clients shifted to Mumbai, resulting in a shift of big marketing/advertising agency headquarters. This caused a shift in the talent pool from Kolkata to Mumbai.

Now over a period of time, all big advertising agencies have closed shop or shifted, making Kolkata lose its charm of talent pool & making it a dead city for agencies.

Now in the 20th century,I see all OEM, Trading & manufacturing units along with headquarters moving towards Delhi & only the top Finance/ NDFC/Brands have their headquarters in Mumbai. I can see that in the near future, Mumbai will be like Kolkata, a talent deficit market. Delhi similarly will initially be full of opportunities, due to the sudden increase in demand and but the resultant supply gap will be huge.

India needs a million of digitally skilled resources, which is not being developed & soon it’s going to be a challenge.

The Rise of Digital Agencies

What we see now, two decades later, it will be a different India. The Digital scenario of Indian business is characterized with mushrooming digital agencies across all nooks and corners.

But why did this sudden rise of Digital Agencies occur?

Digital Transformation became a buzzword& everyone (client) wanted to be a part of this buzz. This gave a platform for the sudden rise of digital agencies. The “Make in India” initiative by the Prime Minister of India on September 2014 also acted as a catalyst in digitizing Indian businesses.

The result was the availability of huge demand, but India was deprived of producing digitally skilled resources. The after-effect is the rise of the new online digital courses, which have now become a billion-dollar business.

I was personally involved in making structured courses for some very big online brands in India. As I write this blog, I too am getting ready to launch an advanced digital transformation course for Senior Working professionals.

The Market of 2018

Across the Business Consulting landscape, we have observed that in metro cities like Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai, business agencies can be classified into 4 broad categories (not taking the Big 4 into considerations in this blog):

1. BTL Outfits

Agencies that can reach 60% of rural Indian Customers in Media Dark villages/regions

2. Pure Creative Outfits

Agencies showcasing the old creative awards/success & still doing good work, but facing the heat of digital delivery

3. Semi-digital Outfits

Mid-size creative agencies who are struggling with the help of few digitally skilled people, but have limited/poor digital knowledge

4. Lead-generation Focused Digital Outfits

Performance agencies that mainly focus on lead-generation, but run it by using the old traditional mindset, by simply using AdWords & SEO. But these agencies do not focus on developing the clients' brands organically, using the inbound methodology.

BTL Agencies, Pure Creative Agencies &Semi-digital Agencies

Agencies are struggling to marry digital with the non-digital approach, since there is constant pressure from the client, asking the agencies to enter/expand into digital. Also, the new-age customers’ (end-consumer) behavior has changed. Even in the villages, farmers are using smartphones, using telecommunication calls widely, browsing on Facebook & watching videos on YouTube. Since these agencies cannot lose this type of digital business, they are trying fast to adapt and embrace the new-age digital.

Meanwhile, some Semi-digital agencies are finding it difficult to balance non-digital, unskilled people with the aspirations of their clients, thereby compromising the quality of work. Coping with the ever-changing digital is quite a task, and additionally its the way of working that changes every 6–7 months.

Finally, the fourth category of typical digital agencies is surviving on a combination of services like Search Engine Optimization, GoogleAdWords, Website&Appdevelopment, and running Social Media Campaigns.

I see the root-cause/commonality of all problems across all these 4 segments is:

1. Digital Skill deficiency

2. Lack of Digital Knowledge

3. Digital ignorance

4. The urge of making money first

5. Doing injustice to digital growth & development of employees

This makes them incompetent in leveraging the benefits of different field of digital like :

1. Data Analytics

2. Designing (UX and UI)

3. Information Architecture Development, based on insights from personas

4. Campaign Management, without an in-depth understanding

5. Understanding of Content Funnel (ToFu, MoFu, BoFu), by mapping the Customers Journey

Present Scenario

Recently, some agency businesses have laid off approximately 100 to 300 of their employees, in cities like Mumbai and Delhi. While a number of smaller agencies are evolving with a strength of two or three people, some offshoots from larger agencies are also coming up to open their own shops everyday.

This highly vulnerable environment is a result of highly confused agencies not being able to integrate all the digital platform to sync into one digital objective. They don’t know how to join all the dots and make one complete digital roadmap.

See the reference Pic ( )

Another set of people, who are unable to cope up with this changing environment of business are the brand head and digital head, who come from a traditional background (presently belonging to the age group of 35 to 40 years). They face the issue of not understanding digital and do not know what to ask from agencies or how to evaluate the digital work & process. They are also highly incapable of identifying which is an agency, semi-agency and a normal traditional agency, wearing a hat of digital.

Some of the insights that I have gained by being a jury member for so many award ceremonies are:

1. 80% of the campaign that comes for nomination are copied from Western countries

2. Great innovations are not happening on digital, simply because people do not understand digital.

Where we stand (as a Digital Fellow)

There are 2 groups that are prominent in running the digital business: Consulting Firms and Digital Agencies. Consulting Firm is characterized as being very business driven, whereas an agency is characterized as creative (I mean, in terms of mindset). The need of the hour is to create an ecosystem, where both entities can work in sync with each other. We, at Digital Fellow, anticipated this way before and never went into agency format, but followed the consulting format. This made us different. I was very sure that I wanted to build my business of consulting, and not a creative-based execution agency.
The reason behind this Infographics

I came across this blog ( )which highlights that the same traits which is happening in India is also taking place in the western world. So, I hope you will go through the 2 blogs (shared below), which are very detail oriented.

We have also made it into an info graph format so that it can be used for your reference. This can also be used by people in universities, and business schools as well as marketers to help them understand the business scenario in the next 5 years.

A word of caution: This info graph is not intended as a substitute to understanding Digital Agency Vs. Consulting Landscape, in the world or India. The reader should read the original blogs for full understanding. Additionally, the infographic in this blog is not meant to supplement or replace the original blog. We have just made it easy to understand the flow and give an easy visual understanding of the complex landscape. So do not cut, copy and paste, please give credit and share.

( Cont.)
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