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Automation a key focus for marketers but skills lack

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Automation a key focus for marketers but skills lack


While digital transformation is at the top of the agenda for most marketers, many feel they are not receiving the right training or support from employers to equip them with skills for the future.

Marketers are optimistic about automation and the benefits it can bring to the workplace, and are often further ahead in their automation journey than other professionals. But there is a growing knowledge gap and many feel unsupported in their efforts to upskill.

According to a new study from recruiting firm Hays, 79% of marketers say digital transformation is a primary or secondary focus for their organisation and 55% believe automation will allow people to add greater human value to an organisation in the future.

However, 40% of employers say they lack the skills to enable them to make the best of automation technology and 53% cite a lack of skills from current staff as the biggest barrier to the implementation of automation.

While only 15% of marketing employers have hired a change manager, team or agency – below the UK average of 28% – 41% say they are planning to. This suggests a considerable swing in the future towards preparing teams for the changes automation will bring.

Generalists to specialists: Brands are struggling to find marketers with the right skills

“To ensure customers and clients are always contacted with personalised and relevant offers, you need marketing automation technology,” says Clare Kemsley, a director at Hays Marketing. “And more importantly, people with the skills and passion to use it.”

When it comes to the technical skills most lacking, 46% of marketing employers say they require digital project management skills to make automation a success, while 57% cite strategic marketing skills and 70% data analytics.

Many soft skills are needed in current teams too, including critical thinking (58%), communication and interpersonal skills (50%) and flexibility and adaptability (46%).

Yet marketers aren’t receiving the training they need. While 63% say they are developing the technical skills needed themselves, only 34% are being supported by their employer. Likewise, 65% are trying to improve their soft skills but only 27% are receiving any kind of formal training or support.

This is a potential source of contention, as 62% of respondents believe the responsibility for developing a professional’s skills around automation should lie with their employer.

How Unilever is using AI to ‘democratise’ upskilling and future-proof its employees

On the benefits of automation, 79% of marketers say they are aware or very aware of what it can offer the workplace, and 33% of employers think their teams’ administrative tasks have decreased because of automation.

Improved productivity is deemed to be the top benefit (31%), followed by increased process efficiencies (28%) and cost savings (14%).

The areas within marketing already seeing the most investment in automation include scheduling communications (59%), social media and community management (51%) and content personalisation (37%).

Key job areas which marketing employers believe will benefit most from automation include customer satisfaction insights (51%), market reporting (51%) and market research (51%).


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