Think outside the box to create more intelligent partnerships.

As a marketing director, you don’t want to outsource your leadership—but you do needto form partnerships of one form or another if you’re going to survive in the modern marketing world. More and more marketing technology firms are working with agency groups in order to deliver data-based, individual-focused campaigns.

In January 2015, for example, the executives at the advertising and marketing holding company MDC Partners and Salesforce, the cloud-computing company, began discussing how they might work together to use marketing technology. They realized, though, that they were missing the software that would make their collaboration work. Eventually, they invested in the digital marketing agency Pierry. Pierry’s software, working with Salesforce software, would help agencies interpret data to create, manage, and distribute more personalized content such as e-mails or mobile ads.

The MDC-Salesforce-Pierry relationship isn’t a unique one. Other companies are finding different ways to achieve similar goals. IBM, for example, recently acquired a digital creative shop called Resource/Ammirati, with the goal of more effectively reaching IBM’s marketing goals; the digital agency Wunderman entered a formal partnership with independent firm Marketo, a marketing automation company that can track customers’ actions from the time they get an e-mail promotion to the online point of sale; and a new Omnicom Group agency is dedicating itself exclusively to McDonald’s to work with the company to revolutionize it and its sales.

What all these companies have in common is that they have found ways to merge the functions of what were once considered separate aspects of a company. Because the current advertising model is based on targeted, contextually relevant content, delivered to a global world that is increasingly dependent on personal devices, data is inextricably linked with marketing’s creative process. That’s today’s reality. The response to this reality has been that marketing-technology (mar-tech) vendors are proliferating faster than rabbits.

With one agency handling one thing, another something else, and yet another agency doing something else for a company, if there’s no one who is responsible for the overall big picture, that picture soon becomes very fragmented. The problem then is this: how can in-house marketing departments, agencies, and mar-tech companies marry creativity with tech capabilities in a way that makes sense in today’s world? Modern marketing can’t function without technology and data—but if your company isn’t an IBM or an MDC or a McDonald’s, you probably can’t go out and partner up with your own exclusive agency to provide you with all the services you need. You’ll have to find other ways to outsource some aspects of your work. It makes sense to make use of all the resources out there to supplement your own.

Waste was one of the major flaws of those huge, bloated agencies of the past. Their huge staffs and big buildings made for massive overheads that drove expenses higher. They also wasted both time and money because they were so large and cumbersome that they couldn’t be agile; instead of turning on a dime, they lumbered along, slow to make decisions and slow to take action. You want to build partnerships with highly specialized experts rather than hand over your marketing to a giant all-inclusive dinosaur that will gobble up money and time, delivering little in return.

You can recognize an effective partnerships because its members work together toward smoothly integrated goals.When you’re the central “brain” that directs the big picture—rather than outsourcing your thinking and leadership—you’re in position to sort through the agencies out there and form relationships with the ones that will offer you the most expertise for particular tasks. Rather than hiring a single company to be your “brain” for you, you focus on matching the best provider with your individual needs.

If you’re willing to think outside the box, your leadership can be the catalyst that creates intelligent partnerships.