What are the key issues facing data driven organisations today? And how should we tackle them? Experts from the fields of data governance, innovation and strategy gathered at our recent breakfast briefing in London to give their take. Here we'll reveal some of their best practice tips, starting with Robert Bond who gives his verdict on how to approach GDPR and evolving global regulation trends.
As technology and new regulations continue to transform how businesses engage with their customers, the demand for marketers who are equipped with an ever-expanding skillset will increase. The marketer of the future will need to be equally proficient in analytics, creative thinking and AI integration. They will also need to fulfil their growing obligation to responsible marketing and ethical business practice under the GDPR.
If the data and marketing industry is to continue to thrive, comprehensive learning and development programmes are essential. I believe there are five key areas that organisations will need to invest in:
#1 Developing data-related skills
An increasing number of marketing roles need to use data to develop the customer insights that inform every aspect of the customer journey. We will need creative marketers who think more like data analysts and data analysts who think like creative marketers.
Marketers surveyed in the IDM’s ‘Professional skills census’ report identified a range of technical skills that will become more important in the future. Within the area of data skills, ‘Analysing customer data/insight (+12%*)’, ‘Data analysis & reporting (+10%)’ and ‘Data & database management (+7%)’ were among the most prevalent skills gaps observed.
Data skills will become even more central as the marketing industry continues to transition from analogue to digital, where real-time data analysis will be a key part of any marketer’s role. Marketing teams of the future will be able to identify opportunities and act on them instantly.
Automated systems will only increase the availability and scope of data, and so marketers will need to be able to interpret this information effectively and understand how to communicate this back to management teams and adapt their marketing approach accordingly.
(*Percentages represent the difference between the number of marketers who believe a skill is important in their current role, compared to how many believe it is important in their future career – an increase indicates a skills gap is present.)
#2 Understanding marketing technology
In its annual report analysing the martech industry, Moore Stephens along with WARC, valued the global marketing technology market at approximately £75 billion. Brands have increased their martech budgets by 44% in the UK and North America meaning it is now worth up to £40 billion.
The future of martech will not just be dependent on investing in the latest technological advancements. It will require skilled marketing teams to interpret data, analyse trends and integrate marketing platforms to develop a cohesive marketing strategy. Perhaps even more importantly, it requires business leaders to acknowledge the predicament and drive decisions based on a cohesive strategy.
However, there is a lack of staff with the right skillsets, which is creating a barrier to the success of marketing platforms. A report by Econsultancy in 2018 found that two-thirds (64%) of companies believe they do not have the skills or talent to make the best use of marketing technology. It also found that the greatest martech challenge for companies is the lack of skills/people to utilise it properly, cited as a top-three barrier by 45% of both B2B and B2C respondents.
Future proofing a business requires a commitment to supporting the development of knowledge workers and their ability to take advantage of technology in the form of AI in particular. The IDM’s ‘Professional skills census’ report shows that within the data and marketing industry artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) has the biggest skills gap, with a 25% difference between perceived importance between marketers’ current roles and for future career progression.
AI and ML are driving modern marketing, which is already resulting in a rise in jobs requiring different skills. According to 2017 analysis from jobs site Indeed, the number of roles in AI has risen by 485% in the UK since 2014, and there are twice as many jobs requiring AI/ML skills as there are applicants.
Having the key skills and competencies to utilise marketing technology is now a key business challenge. Vast data pools that stretch across multiple marketing channels continue to inform decision making and customer engagement strategies, and so marketers need to know what martech solutions are out there and how it can help them. Innovation for its own sake is not the answer. Marketers must be able to use technology to generate positive impact on the business.
#3 Customer engagement and the role of behavioural economics
Getting the right message to your customer at the right time and in the right format for the context will be a key business driver.
Behavioural economics is a field that is becoming increasingly important to data and marketing teams. In order to understand the value of content and the creative, it is essential to understand how they fit into your customer’s increasingly granular interactions with the brand. In this respect, the effect of programmatic marketing on campaign planning, strategy development and budgeting will also present marketers with a wide range of new challenges.
By understanding consumer behaviour, a marketer can make irrational interactions more predictable. It is important to learn how minor changes to an offer or any marketing opportunity can influence the way consumers’ engage with your brand. Small changes to the details may unlock significant value—often at a very low cost. For example, several studies have found that by getting consumers to think about certain attributes of a product, it can affect their decision making in favour of purchasing an item that scores well with that particular attribute.
#4 Regulation continues to reform business ethics
Regardless of the amount of education people have been exposed to up to this point, changes brought about by the GDPR are significant and will continue to make waves for years to come.
Recent research by the DMA, ‘Data privacy – An industry perspective 2018’ published in December 2018, found that almost half (43%) of respondents recognise this, saying they would like access to ongoing training. In fact, 32% say it’s already available to them.
Training should not be treated as a one-off, particularly as case law will likely throw new light on some aspects of the regulation as time goes on. The onus is on organisations to equip employees with the right knowledge to remain compliant, and even though marketers generally feel confident in this area – senior management teams should be promoting a culture where marketers are confident and proud to be held accountable.
#5 Establishing a culture where learning and development is rewarded
In order to keep pace with the changing environment, as well as attract and retain talent, organisations need to cultivate a culture of continuous upskilling and professional development.
Organisations need to tackle the issue head on and provide their marketers with a structure/framework to work within. They need to create an environment where marketers (and in fact all staff) are rewarded for continuous personal development. This doesn’t necessary have to mean financial rewards, it could even be extra autonomy in their everyday work or opportunities for project management tasks.
Equally, it is the responsibility of marketers at all levels of seniority to proactively seek new training opportunities. It is their future at stake and an organisation can only do so much – they must show a desire to learn and develop their skillset.
Our industry needs to invest in the skills marketers use today, but also those they will need in the future if we are to retain our position as a global leader in data and marketing.
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