Cyberage your marketing organisation

Why does the most with-it collection of individuals inside corporations fall behind in their way of working? Marketing departments talk along the lines of new wave, hip culture, music and fashion. But when it comes down to really doing things – making change happen – they hide behind glowing apple laptops.

New research from such thought leaders as the Boston Consulting Group shows that companies do not have the digital marketing skills they need to engage their customers. The capabilities of the leaders are not shared by the followers.

It’s not just the tectonic BIG DATA issue holding comprehension hostage, but tiny tidbits. Pieces of everyday life like how best to use video in marketing; and testing and purchasing advertising in the digital age, otherwise known as programmatic buying.

One of the greatest obstacles to making the digital leap is the educational dinosaur stuck in the tar of convention. The reality around marketing academia seems to move at light speed.


Technology is inundating the marketing world like a tsunami. As with all revolutions, there’s a little structure we can hold onto. Ad hoc is the phrase of today. Spontaneous, trial and error – quick fixes and forward movement is the fast-changing paradigm of today’s winners.

But how do you create a culture that enables a test-and-learn approach and that demonstrates how calculated risk-taking is essential to closing the digital skills gap? Naturally it requires senior leadership, but what type? A senior leader with an agile mind, thorough knowledge about technology and how marketing and social behavioural changes relate to our new trans-information society. A fifty-seven-year-old millennial?

Boston Consulting Group research give senior leadership high marks for support, but the grades they assign for structure and talent are mostly quite low. Scores for investing in new capabilities that address a changing marketplace are especially low.

We have entered the era of a new type of leadership. The ship’s captain must have the feel of being in control without being so. Branding is a team initiative. A culture of collaboration is the new norm. The movies have always depicted temporary gatherings of talented production teams and in this sense they are correct: the modern marketing team has to clone this mentality. Companies that start the journey now have a huge opportunity of creating competitive advantage.


Fewer and fewer companies are filling their marketing departments with people who have marketing degrees or branding backgrounds. The need for technically proficient and specialized staff is leading companies to new talent pools. Marketers are hiring more people who have worked in non-traditional roles in digital and branded content as well as in media companies.

The reason is pretty obvious. One third of global media spend—153 billion euros—is already in digital . When conversations across the table are knit together with programming terminology and integration syntax, there’s clearly a need for tech-enabled professionals. Gut feelings and personal opinions will be set aside when every marketing action is measured. This new reality is already coming into being. Demand is rising for data scientists, Ph.Ds, econometricians, mathematicians, agency managers, and media professionals.


Most marketers need to rebuild their learning and development capabilities. The first question a company should ask itself is ‘will their learning and development program help to close the digital marketing skills gap?’ Or are they just preparing to do more of the same?

Instituting a digital marketing skills framework is one way to tackle the issue. It divides skills into 3 pillars with 3 areas of competence in each, resulting in 9 fields of expertise.

To succeed at the top level – planning successful strategy – you have to have a good knowledge of the two bottom levels. You cannot plan something that you don’t know how to realise and measure.

Current training and development programs are either ineffective or insufficient. Companies need to foster an acceptance of and appreciation for self-learning, promoting ongoing learning as a basic responsibility of staff and executives at all levels.


As with other key initiatives, leadership plays a critical role. Increasingly, we need to see top management going through digital leadership programs with their entire teams in order to lead by example and seed a culture of continual learning.

Quarterly action plans fit perfectly with modern marketing. Customers are changing the marketplace with such speed that any plan that is longer is doomed to fail. The 110-metre hurdle race is the way to work today.

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