The Tech Skills Gap


Hays’ 2016 Global Skills Index found that Britain’s skill shortage had worsened for the fifth consecutive year, especially in terms of specialist technology skills. This is bad news for organisations and the economy alike. The contribution of technology skills to the UK economy is substantial, with a recent report from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills entitled ‘Digital Skills for the UK Economy’ highlighting that the technology sector alone makes up 6% of the UK economy. The same report also revealed that 72% of large organisations and 49% of SMEs are currently suffering from technology skills gaps.

This comes against a background of immense change and innovation within the marketplace. On the one hand, digital disruptors are challenging existing business models and engaging customers in new ways. While on the other increasingly empowered, savvy consumers expect a seamless brand offering across an ever-growing range of channels.

In order to keep up with the pace of change and deliver the services customers expect, organisations need access to the right talent, yet many are increasingly struggling to find people with the skills they need.

Digital marketing evangelist Avinash Kaushik was spot on when he said “invest 90% of your effort in the people”. Having a tight, expert team is the difference between success and failure when it comes to marketing and data technology. An organisation can select the best piece of technology in the world, but its true value cannot be unlocked without the appropriate expertise to implement, integrate and optimise it. For instance, a particular technology may claim to deliver X,Y and Z straight out of the box, but in reality it will need careful configuration and this means having the right talent available.

This is especially true in terms of integrating new technology with existing systems. Organisations need to really understand how certain technologies work with others, as well as the strengths and limitations of both existing and new technologies. For example, making sure marketing automation tools work closely with CRM tools to help track the entire customer experience.

If a new technology is not integrated correctly, then adoption rates are likely to be low, it will be perceived badly and ultimately it will not provide the required return on investment or solve the issues it was bought in to address.

One way around this talent gap is to bring together a team of subject matter experts from outside the organisation. This requires a mindset shift; developing relationships with contractors or even gaining support from a third party agency that can manage this process and the required expertise.

It is not just technical expertise that is needed. Your team also needs to be expert communicators and bridge the gap between both marketing and technology, but also the rest of the organisation. They need to obtain stakeholder buy-in across the business and ensure they are regularly communicating about how the implementation and integration process is progressing and highlighting success in areas where value can be demonstrated quickly.

The skills are out there – albeit in short supply – organisations just need to know where to look for them and how to use them in the best possible way.


Written by Louise Hughes.

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GDPR… has big teeth

Fear. Uncertainty.  Doubt.  As data and marketing professionals we are quite used to players in the technology market using these emotions to promote their solutions.  The latest vehicle for this ‘FUD’ is another ‘initialism’ GDPR – the General Data Protection Regulation.  It has even been characterised as the new Millennium Bug.

In this case however, we are forced to admit, that there may be some justification in a little fear. You see, this regulation has teeth – and sharp ones.  However, before you start running to the hills – or indeed running away from your advisors and their protestations of having the panacea – let’s take a rational look at the highlights of GDPR, and what you can start doing today that will put you in a better position tomorrow.

What is it and why should you care?

  • General Data Protection Regulation rules, published this month, will be applicable by May 25th 2018 to all organisations that operate in the EU market
  • The regulations are extra-territorial. Overseas firms doing business in the EU market are subject to it.  Even if there is a Brexit, UK organisations will still be affected
  • The fines are serious; data breaches can generate fines of €10m or 2% of annual revenue. Wider or consequential breaches of its provisions will generate fines of €20m or 4% of revenue.
  • Consumers have enhanced rights: to be forgotten, for transparency, to know what information is stored, to the protection of personal data
  • Consent to use data must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous for each purpose for which the data is being processed
  • The regulation applies (with some nuances) to both the data controller and data processor
  • right to data portability will make it easier for individuals to transmit personal data between service providers.


This article sums it up particularly well: Law Gazette – New EU data protection regulation 

No part of the business will be able to hide from the impact of GDPR.  It’s a big and thorny challenge and not just one for the security team.  When your legal counsel, your internal audit or your COO makes the phone call and asks you where the data is, what will be your answer?  This is a challenge for IT and marketing as well.

If it’s your job to wrestle with the organisational impact of this regulation, then please start asking the data questions now.  Better to know the scale and complexity of the challenge sooner rather than later.

If it’s your job to know where the data is and who you’re marketing to – then please start thinking about your data source catalogue and your data governance policies and controls today.

Compliance is one thing.  However, if you do this right then GDPR could be the catalyst for very positive outcomes in your business as well.  The organisations that are at the vanguard of a response to this challenge will, we predict, be seen as innovators, as brands with a social conscience, protecting their customers and embracing the new commercial paradigms more fully.

Plus, there has always been a strong business case for better information management, solid information governance and sensible information lifecycle management – all of which you will need to explore as part of your response to GDPR.

You can start small, but start soon.

Written by Dominic Bridgman


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