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We need the right people, with the right skills

We need the right people, with the right skills

by Tim Bond | Group Head of PR , The DMA |
The data and marketing industry is in the midst of one of the biggest changes it’s ever seen, possibly since the invention of the printing press. That might be a little hyperbolic, I know, but just look at the rise of data and the increased digitisation of the world around us. I only have to look at how many things I can do on my phone that I used a PC for just a few years ago and hadn’t even thought about trying a decade ago! 

This rise of data has led many businesses to invest in technology, which is clearly important. However, just as important is having the key skills and competencies to utilise this technology too. This is something we explored in the IDM’s first ever ‘Professional skills census 2018’ report, which investigates the key skills marketers use in their current roles and the ones they believe are integral to the future of their careers and the industry. 

We surveyed over 350 marketers about 33 skills across five broader categories of content/creative, data, direct/digital, management, and strategy/planning. The responses revealed that 13 of these skills currently have a skills gap between the importance within their current role and career development, meaning they feel these key competencies are integral to their future. 

Many of these skills gaps were focused on the areas of data and digital, including mobile marketing (+19%), optimising campaigns (+13%), analysing customer data/insight (+12%) and marketing automation & integration (+12%). In fact, of the 5 top-line categories these skills fell into, it was data that had the biggest gap (+13%) reinforcing the point that marketers must have a clear understanding of how to use what is the essential fuel for our industry. 

Perhaps more concerning is the news that half of the marketers (49%) we heard from have not received training in these 13 key skills. This should be seen as deeply concerning and something our industry has to address if it’s to continue to succeed. 

In fact, I would argue that marketing yourself or your business as offering this type of training is only going to serve you well. If you’re a business, it will help to attract and retain your staff for longer, if you’re a marketer it will allow you to develop and grow faster. As MD for the IDM, Jane Cave, puts it: 

“To attract and retain talented staff, and remain relevant in an environment that thrives on innovation, organisations need to promote a culture of continuous upskilling and reward employees for their professional development. Our analysis of skills gaps helps employers and marketers identify areas where they need to invest time and money in order to remain competitive, address key challenges and take advantage of future opportunities.”

Ultimately, we need the right people with the right skills. That hasn’t really changed, but with the distraction of shiny new technology, some organisations may have lost sight of that. Our research highlights the need for urgent action to address the skills gaps that not only marketers feel they have, but that could have wider ramifications for our industry. In the UK, we’re a world leader in data-driven marketing but to remain that way in a fast-evolving industry amid changing times for our nation, we must commit to developing the talent in our industry. 

You can find out more about the research and the full report here

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