Digital demand and supply: The psychology of self-development for digital careers
Are your job skills keeping pace with today's rapidly evolving digital culture? Columnist Jim Yu discusses ways to get up to speed and boost your career in the digital world.
The digital talent war continues as demand for data-driven marketing professionals soars to new heights. Wired announced the war for digital talent began back in 2014, when statistics revealed over 90 percent of companies in the UK — even those that worked in IT — lacked digital skills to keep up with the times.
A report from BCG Perspectives revealed marketers are well aware that digital channels are essential for consumer engagement; global spending on digital advertising is expected to reach $178 billion in 2016. And as more consumers get comfortable using their smartphones and tablets to manage online activities — a significant shift from desktop usage in recent years — there is a strong focus on mobile advertising and mobile engagement.
As a result, digital marketing professionals, conversion scientists, marketing analysts and creative teams are emerging with a new skill set and wider knowledge base. The most successful in this industry need to be up to speed on the latest trends, innovations and resources available in the digital world.
Here’s a close look at ways to develop a thriving career in the digital world:
Upgrade your knowledge base
Textbooks published even a few years ago may be outdated or missing key information, as companies evolve by combining machine learning and human capital. Even basic marketing analytics strategies have evolved beyond reviewing reports and analyzing metrics.
Today, it’s important for marketers and digital content strategists to develop formulas and predictions based on key data and ensure that content creation makes full use of this data. For many digital creatives and online marketers, this means upgrading their knowledge base.
Attending seminars and workshops about the latest best practices, taking courses at a university or simply seeking out books and reports about the latest industry practices can help an individual develop a more well-rounded perspective of a data-driven economy and best practices that will serve the companies they work with effectively.
Transform into a hybrid
Today’s hybrid marketers are the ones who aren’t afraid to branch out beyond the traditional marketing role — even an online marketing role — to adopt skills that enable them to maximize their reach on behalf of brands and clients by using multiple channels.
As I mentioned last year, a “full-stack marketer” needs to understand data as if they were part of the analytics team. They need to be comfortable dealing with big data so that they can develop impactful marketing strategies and duplicate successful strategies based on numbers.
Get comfortable with adaptation
As more companies branch out into multichannel marketing, and new tools and resources become available to marketers and organizations, digital professionals need to have an open mind to adopt new processes, tools and viewpoints. “Agile marketing” has become a buzzword in recent years, a definition that implies how flexible and fluid marketers need to be to keep up with rapidly changing conditions, goals, and even expectations.
Marketing has become both a science and a creative endeavor in the digital age. One agile technique that is serving many companies well is to develop integrated marketing initiatives in short “sprints” led by a scrum master for rapid development. Once developed and tested, the initiative can be discarded, tweaked or used for the next sprint.
This strategy requires strong leadership and management skills, as well as a team that is ready to adapt to new processes and continue maintaining a high level of productivity during each “sprint” session. Digital professionals who can maintain that level of flexibility within their role will be the most successful; rapid adaptation is necessary for rapid development.
Embrace digital culture
While some companies are more than happy to invest in their current talent pool to bring skills up to date or introduce teams to new ideas, trends and processes, it’s also up to the digital professional to be aware of the changing needs of an organization built upon a digital culture.
Unlike the traditional corporate environment, more startups and technology companies are evolving and expanding at a record pace simply because of their organization’s structure.
Some organizations have distributed teams where nobody works in a physical office together, but instead, they communicate entirely online through a messaging or communication platform or by phone and email. This can affect productivity and the way we communicate with employees, colleagues and clients. Those who adapt quickly to this shift will be a step ahead of the game.
And consider that the typical workday may no longer be confined to an 8 to 5 shift with the submission of a time sheet at the end of the week. Flexible schedules, telecommuting options and the concept of unlimited vacations — taking a break from work life for as long as you need — are emerging trends that have, and will continue to have, a lasting impact on the way we work.
Today’s digital professional needs to have strong time management skills to handle communications in this type of space — and to keep up with their job responsibilities so that working online doesn’t become overwhelming.
Understanding digital culture and the new ways we are connecting and communicating is critical to becoming a top performer.
As the world shifts into the digital age and demand for consumer content on mobile devices increases, organizations need a plan to adapt their marketing and sales initiatives quickly. The rapid adoption of digital processes and innovative strategies requires a strong talent pool that can keep up with the times.
It’s more important than ever for today’s digital professional to be proactive about their careers; their skills and experience need to align with the rapidly evolving digital economy.
Expanding upon marketing analytics and creative skills, being able to adapt to the needs of a rapidly evolving economy and embracing digital culture are a few ways today’s digital professional can keep up with the demand for qualified talent and maximize their career options.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.
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