It's a brave new world and with such great people in it

There was a timely reminder this month of the original vision and purpose of the IDM - to attract the best talent into the industry. It was provided by newly-arrived CEO Mike Cornwell, talking to a mixed audience of DataIQ readers covering clients, agencies and vendors and ranging from junior to senior level. All of them had just been considering the complexities which managing the customer journey now presents to an organisation. Multi-channel, data-saturated, high-velocity, the paths which a customer follows from consideration to purchase and on to loyalty are no longer capable of being set out by a small group of people with a flip chart and a meeting room.

Instead, customer management demands a suite of interlocking skills and resources supported by as much technology and data as you can afford. That is very different from the way marketing looked 25 years ago when the IDM was founded. For many marketers, it makes their current tasks a major challenge to their skills set, which might have been formulated before the new model came into existence.

That is less true of the new generation of marketers who are digital by nature, data-savvy and used to the complex interactions which social networks generate. Understanding this world is not the same as being able to manage it, of course. Nor is familiarity the same as wanting a career as a digital marketer or data analyst.

Lack of skilled people
There was another reminder of the difficulties of finding and keeping the right talent at an event run by Teradata and MBN Recruitment. It was considering how much the nature of analytics has changed and the lack of skilled practitioners around to carry it out.

Two important strategies for tackling this problem were outlined at the event by Aimia. The first is that analysts want their jobs to be interesting and to have a clear career path, just as much as a junior marketing executive or hopeful management candidate does. Analytics may be focused on one of the most interesting subjects imaginable - human behaviour. But the day job itself has to be bearable and with the potential to progress.

As Michael Young of MBN Recruitment wondered, how long will it be until there is a chief analytics officer on the board of a FTSE 100 business? That should be the end point which new entrants are aiming for. Yet in many cases, their careers get bogged down both through lack of advancement and also too much routine.

Reward bright stars
Aimia has been tackling this through an internal re-organisation which has enhanced the status of its analytical teams, by giving those individuals support and career development tools "so they feel loved", and also by using as much automation as possible. It is still too often the case that the brightest individuals are being asked to generate standard reports that could be set up as repeatable queries, leaving them free to pursue more interesting and value-adding lines of enquiry.

Higher status, better prospects, more interesting work - what's not to like for thenew candidates which the IDM is working hard to attract to the industry? The good news is that these efforts are starting to pay off. This year's graduation day for the Institute had its largest attendance ever. And at the conference where Cornwell was speaking, there was one of those new intakes to the industry - bright-eyed, eager to learn, ready for the challenge.

Welcome to our world!

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