Our “The Forrester Wave™: Midsize Digital Experience Agencies, Q4 2018” evaluation came out today. While nobody likes the word “midsize,” we all should pause and consider why bigger doesn’t always mean better.

In 36 customer reference calls for 12 experience agencies, we heard over and over again that these smaller specialists — 500 to 2,700 dedicated digital experience staff members — were:

  • “An extension to my team.” This was not common when we looked at the global big guys last year. But it was almost universal in these customer reference calls. There is no higher praise for a service provider than this.
  • Big enough to do complex projects. Smaller doesn’t mean less capable or overly restricted in capacity. It does mean specialization. A midsize specialist agency is more likely to focus on marketing or commerce or product engineering or portal and not all four at once.
  • More agile than the “big guys.” Bingo: agile, A-team, roll-up-your-sleeves providers. This is why you want choice in the size of the experience agency you select.
  • A great cultural fit. Instead of a company having to adapt the agency’s culture, these agencies are much more likely to adapt to their client’s culture. In this world of co-innovation, this is a strong vote of confidence in getting things done together.

Those calls were, frankly, gratifying to me because I often recommend specialists (even ones much smaller than this) over giants such as Accenture, Deloitte, and Publicis.Sapient or bigger agencies like Isobar and Wunderman for Forrester’s enterprise clients. In this midsize digital experience agency Wave evaluation for Q4 2018, we found that digital experience agencies fell into three categories of goodness:

  1. R/GA, AKQA, Valtech, and Kin and Carta lead the pack.
  2. Huge, Mirum, Softvision, and ICF Next are Strong Performers that offer competitive options.
  3. CapTech, CI&T, MullenLowe Profero, and Mphasis are Contenders with solid offerings.

A Word Of Advice: Specialization And Breadth Of Service Are Key Differentiators

Because digital experiences cover the entire customer life cycle, it’s important to choose a provider with expertise in your industry and your primary channels of engagement: web, mobile, marketing, commerce, loyalty, customer care, or product experiences. The vendors we evaluate vary widely in their specialization and breadth of service, so go beyond the Forrester Wave picture to understand the individual strengths and gaps in their skills and service lines.