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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