A business’s ability to grow and adapt relies heavily on how well their marketing team implements new technologies and avoids the digital talent gap. With new technologies introduced at an ever-increasing rate, staying up to date is quite a challenge. Markus Nordlin, the CIO of Zurich Insurance, said: I believe that the successful leaders of tomorrow, in any business or industry, are going to be true hybrid professionals who have spent some time in IT but have shifted to operations and vice-versa. This is exactly why combining IT skills with other aspects of online marketing is essential to achieve success.

Businesses are behind the technological curve

A study undertaken by the Online Marketing Institute found that most businesses and marketing agencies consider digital marketing an important part of their business, yet only 8% feel that their marketing teams had enough skills and experience across all areas.

The biggest vulnerabilities revealed by the study are:

  • Analytics
  • Mobile marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Social media
  • Email marketing

And this is how digital knowledge is distributed among the marketers:

graph1 Source: Online Marketing Institute

Business owners questioned in the study say they aim seek applicants who hold between 3-5 years of digital marketing experience, and for that reason, typically avoid recent university graduates. Owners further revealed that applicants applying for digital marketing positions are often good at the digital side but poor at marketing, or great at marketing but unable to transition their skills to digital toolsets.

How to bridge the ever-growing talent gap?

Capgemini found that 90% of companies realize there’s a massive marketing skill gap in their company, and yet less than half are investing to reduce it:

graph2 Source: Capgemini

Investing in training for marketing teams is an obvious, if expensive, solution. However if they haven’t yet invested in themselves by learning to market in the digital world, it’s unlikely they will be able to keep pace with the rate of change in digital marketing. In addition, it’s no longer enough to be adequate at one discipline when a business has 5 different customer profiles, each with unique drives; nor is it reasonable to expect one team to be able to do everything perfectly having so many skills to master.

This reality makes outsourcing certain marketing activities to agencies an attractive option to many organizations. It’s far easier to buy what you need compared to growing it at home.

Another successful strategy for broadening the technical skills inside of an organization is to seek out strategic partnerships with noncompetitive highly technical companies.

In 2008, Procter & Gamble and Google cross-trained each other’s employees. P&G employees learned ways to expand their online footprint, while Google’s staff learned how big companies branded themselves. The result? P&G doubled their revenue from 2000 to 2010, and today Google is one of the biggest advertising platforms in the world.

Nike created a partnership with Techstars as part of their New+ Accelerator program. The goal was for Nike to leverage the expertise of Techstars in boosting its own digital innovation. Fast Company considered Nike the most innovative company in 2013 for being one of the first major brands to jump in with both feet into the digital world – and achieve success.

Breaking down the walls

Why do as many as 92% of businesses believe that their marketing departments are not strong enough? One of the reasons behind this problem is the tendency for businesses to operate with a silo mentality. If the two examples above reveal anything, it’s that cross-communication is the way forward.

Collaborating with departments, external companies, even building partnerships with digital agencies will help employees learn on the job and gain insights into other areas of a business.


Marketers are the first to admit that they don’t have all the skills to run campaigns to the
highest level:

graph3 Source: BCG Perspectives

For years marketing roles have been converging and overlapping with other areas of a business. The role of CMO has greatly changed, as have the roles and requirements of departments. Some of this is partly because of the swift growth of digital marketing, arrival of big data, and the power consumers hold because of the aid of Internet.

The longer CEOs wait to take action and implement change, the bigger the task becomes in the future. Company’s silo mentality needs to be bulldozed and replaced with integrated-departments, partnerships formed where necessary, and training and recruitment processes updated.

How will your business reduce the talent gap in 2016?

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About the author

Joshua Goldfein is the Founder of WPHelp Center and CEO of Mercury Digital Agency. Joshua has over 15 years of experience helping businesses the world over strengthen their digital brands and improve customer experience.

Joshua Goldfein CEO / Founder mercury creative