Kickstarting Digital Talent in 2019

Kickstarting Digital Talent in 2019

Asia Pacific is at the top of the list in demands for digital transformation. If you want great people, train them.

Nick Fawbert
/ Categories: Analysis

If you’re running a digital marketing team and you don’t have a sneaking sense of dread about the new year you might be in a minority.

The Economist Intelligence Unit this week puts Asia Pacific at the top of the list in demands for digital transformation, and did so in the knowledge that only 38% of employers are finding it easy to hire. In fact, according to global professional services recruiter Morgan McKinley digital roles are consistently the highest paid marketing executives.

We have a perfect storm of high demand and low supply, and slow movers may pay a heavy price in terms of salaries and execution.

The best answer is always the same – if you want great people, train them.

Ducking the issue always seems an option. After all, who wants to invest in highly trained digital marketing executives if they may leave? But then again, who wants untrained digital marketing executives if they choose to stay?

The Monster in the Closet

The good thing is that we’re not in denial as an industry. We can see all too clearly the impact in unhappy employees, low productivity, increased costs and the occasional departing client. But we can also be guilty of seeing an integrated talent development plan as being just too hot to handle.

Perhaps, we say, if there’s a monster in the closet we could just leave the door closed?

The key, right now, when you’ve got next year’s budget sheets in front of you, is to work out how this can be delivered in a simple scalable format with minimal costs in terms of cash and resources.

Whilst cash can seem like the biggest challenge, we’ve all had the board that suggests that ‘you can just do it yourself no?’ But at a typical 20:1 ratio between preparation and execution (20 hours work for a 1 hour session), even the most committed senior executive can struggle to allocate enough personal resource to an in-house solution.

And it’s the resources that are most often the biggest challenge we encounter. I’ve been ‘that’ senior executive tasked with setting down a strategy, but the demands in time of that blank sheet of paper, let alone the content development and executional requirements can provide a massive barrier to entry.

So maybe there’s a quicker way?

Scalable Solutions

There’s a neat trick to categorising training and development plans around four key areas:

  • Business Orientation – This is the background knowledge that keeps your company ticking. It’s simple ongoing provision of information that allows your teams to know your vision and your mission, to know who does what, to know what is expected of them, and who to turn to when they need support.
  • Foundation Knowledge – This is the structured provision of information about both the industry and the business role that give your talent the foundation on which to build their skills. It’s role specific, evergreen and organic. It’s blow by blow procedural insights that allow them to get the job done.
  • Ingenious Thinking – This is the way we approach our work, the way we solve problems. It’s our tactics and our strategies, and the things that set ourselves apart from our competitors. Whereas Foundation Knowledge should be consistent and embedded across both an organisation and an industry, it’s Ingenious Thinking that is a company’s unique product offering, and is unique and peculiar to both your team and a particular moment in time.
  • Business Integration – This is the company wide approach that we have to knowledge sharing and operational integration. This is the attitude that allows us to work cross departmentally and cross culturally to achieve holistic solutions to broad business problems.

A great talent development plan needs to address each of these areas, and come out with simple tailored solutions that diversify the means of delivery and defray costs, whilst maintaining great quality and engagement.

Ditch the Deck

As Henry Ford may have said ‘If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses’, and in skills development that often means a better deck or a more qualified trainer.

In practice though, we have a diverse set of content options available that may be far more efficient and effective at delivering transformational knowledge and skills.

E-Learning and knowledge bases provide a ready, persistent source of foundation knowledge – either in the industry, the company or specific roles – that can be referred to on an ongoing basis.

At Mutiny we call it ‘taxi time’, but the most valuable learning content needs to delivered in formats that can be accessed in short bite-sized chunks whenever and wherever is most convenient to the team.

We’ve also recognised the importance of leveraging internal subject matter experts for both their insights and their wit in generating great evergreen assets. We’ve dedicated enormous resources in developing video libraries of content that support this cause, and the costs are amortised across many partners.

This is key to defraying costs and downtime – whilst we need the team well trained, we don’t want to pay in full every time we do it, and we don’t want to take the talent away from the day job.

Workshop approaches are brilliant in support of Ingenious Thinking and Business Integration, but can be ruined by poorly prepared attendees who burn valuable thinking time trying to acquire basic knowledge – so we need to make sure these are supported by preparatory work.

Leverage the Industry

Companies can also leverage a broad range of industry initiatives to access from various trade associations like the IAB and ACMA. All of these can be used to lower internal costs and broaden the scope of knowledge acquired from outside sources.

Share the Load

Don’t forget you are not alone.

We’ve all been in that situation where we have chastised team members for being too timid to ask a question, or too proud to admit that they don’t have the answer.

We should ensure that we are not too timid to demand a budget or too proud to ask for help.

There are a host of training organisations out there with varied solutions in terms of practitioners, e-learning libraries, workshop solutions and coalface experience. There’s one there to fit your needs at the right budget.

Using outside practitioners not only makes it more cost effective in the short term with swift, concise and comprehensive solutions, but they’ll also make it more effective in the long term with evergreen, transferable and scalable content that works for many years.

Nail It Now

Finally, there’s only one more thing to remember.

Do it now, it’s not going away, and every second you delay will cost you in performance.

And of course, Mutiny and others are here to help.

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Nick Fawbert

Nick FawbertNick Fawbert

With 25 years in the media and marketing industry, and almost 20 of those in digital marketing, Nick is one of the most experienced practitioners in the Asia marketing industry. He is Founder and CEO of Mutiny Consulting.

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