In-Housing in Your Organization’s Future? Start with This Conversation

in-house customer data governance
Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes
It’s time to have a real conversation about your company’s internal structure and capabilities. Are you being asked by management to make in-housing a reality at your company? A discussion like the one below has probably taken place at your company (or likely will soon). Let’s listen in as this hypothetical team discusses how to get started on creating an in-house digital agency. The team consists of:


AMANDA THE MARKETER: “So our turn has come. I just met with our CMO and she wants to bring things in-house ASAP.”

SONNY THE PROGRAM MANAGER: “I’m not surprised. I recently read that that 78% of U.S.-based ANA [ASSOCIATION OF NATIONAL ADVERTISERS] members say they have an in-house agency. This is up 50% from only 5 years ago.”

STACEY THE CLIENT SUCCESS MANAGER: “Amanda, did you ask her specifically why she wants to make in-housing a reality so quickly?”

AMANDA: “Yep, she said that, while meeting with some other executives, they mentioned multiple reasons for starting this work at their respective companies. I wrote down the ones I thought could be most relevant to us.


First, regulatory compliance is easier when we are in charge of our own customer data.

Second, building our own digital infrastructure eliminates reliance on third-parties.

And finally, when we are in charge of our data and own our own digital infrastructure, we no longer have to rely solely on our Agency of Record (AOR) to know what is truly happening. We could have our own flexible partner ecosystem and all of the upside that goes with that.”

STACEY: “Nice, I like it. Now, all we have to do is get from where we are to—well, someplace…”

SONNY: “Once we know where ‘someplace’ is,  just turn it over to my team and we’ll run with it.”

AMANDA: “Sonny, before we jump into execution, I think we need to take a step back. Stacey?”

STACEY: “I think you’re right. We need to know where we are going first. And you know what I always say about deciding where to go?”

SONNY: “All successful transformations start with a good strategy?”

STACEY: “Correct! I’m just happy that going out to lunch is not a transformation that requires a strategy. If it did, I’m not sure we’d ever decide on where to eat. The good news is that while strategy work is just that—work—it can be accomplished with a proper framework.”

AMANDA: “What kind of framework did you have in mind?”

STACEY: “Well, we’ve been doing a lot of digital transformations lately, and I have been taking notes on all of them.”

SONNY: “Same here. I wish all of them could be as successful as the last one.”

AMANDA: “I think we all wish that. Hey, I’ve also been taking notes. Let’s compare and see if there are some common themes?”

STACEY: “Perfect, I’ll write down our themes on this napkin. The first thing I’ve noticed is that we need to answer the initial question I asked: Why? Why are we doing this? What is our purpose in undertaking this work?”

SONNY: “I agree. Without a purpose or a declared end-state, I don’t see any reason to start. Starting for starting’s sake seems, well, reckless, at best. Having said that, once we are aligned on our purpose, I have noticed that when we have the right team members, we tend to do well. And by right team members, I mean people with the skills we need, when we need them.”

AMANDA: “In addition to the right people, the right technology choices can truly make or break our transformations. Without the right platforms, we simply do not succeed.”

SONNY: “We’re on a roll here! What else have we seen?”

AMANDA: “In addition to people and platforms, I’ve noticed that a lack of processes can really slow down our transformations.”

STACEY: “I couldn’t agree more. Without the right people, platforms, and processes, we’re not as fast as we want to be, and we do not get the returns we expect on our work.”

SONNY: “My team always talks about how fast we can go and whether the work will be worth it. I think of this as pace of progress and payoff for a well-executed transformation.”

STACEY: “Okay, here are the components of a good strategy framework that I wrote down based on our discussion: purpose, people, platforms, processes, pace, and pay-off.”

AMANDA: “Quite a successful lunch! We’ve taken our collective thoughts and created a strategy framework that I’m happy with.”

SONNY: “Same here!”

STACEY: “One second. What happens if we end up somewhere else other than where we plan to? Will the transformation still be a success?”

AMANDA: “Great question. As part of my discussion with our CMO, I asked her if I could come back with a proposal on how to proceed. She agreed and shared that a lot of her peers were learning that they did not always end up where they thought they would. In fact, they were actually okay with that; the reason being that there are great benefits to be had, but a ‘one-size-fits-all’ success model doesn’t exist. She understands that we need to do what is right for our culture and mode of operation.”

SONNY: “Perfect. I know that all of the transformation projects always start out with a detailed plan, but then reality happens and we adapt.”

STACEY: “I can’t wait to share this with the rest of the team! Amanda, I’m actually very excited that ‘our turn has come.’”


Key Takeaways From This Scene:

Now that we’ve witnessed this hypothetical lunch meeting play out, here are the key takeaways your organization can use.

  • Moving work in-house starts with a strategy.
  • Strategy-planning is often complex, but it can be done with the proper framework.
  • Your final end-state may not be what you thought it would, and that’s okay.

In-Housing Requires a Structured Approach

As we have learned from the above discussion, moving in-house requires a framework to ensure you get the best ROI out of such a big transformation.

At Tag Inspector and InfoTrust, we meet you where you are in your in-housing effort, knowing it all starts with a good strategy. Our team uses a 6 “P”s framework that will help guide you from a bold statement to successful execution. Those Ps are:

Talk to Tag Inspector About Your In-House Plans

If you’re considering bringing your digital agency in-house, contact the experienced customer data governance and technology team at Tag Inspector.

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Originally Published On October 30, 2019
October 8, 2020