By: Richard Harris, Managing Director, ADMA IQ
In December last year, RBA had once again kept interest rates low and unchanged for the 16th time in a row. In a recent article, Philip Lowe, the RBA Governor was quoted saying, “businesses were struggling to find the right workers in a time of high employment and might have to start lifting salaries to avoid a skills shortage”. He went on to say, "there are reports that some employers are finding it more difficult to hire workers with the necessary skills.”
"A key challenge for businesses is to understand what skills they need in order to achieve their business goals."
This has long been an issue for businesses wishing to take full advantage of digital technologies that leverage the vast amounts of data available to help improve business decisions and enhance customer experience. As business leaders come to understand the power of data in helping drive business decisions, the need for skilled individuals who possess an understanding of data-driven and digital marketing practices has outpaced the available talent pool. This, in turn has created a cost explosion for businesses trying to attract the right people.
As shown above, salaries for analysts have increased year on year with the latest survey results showing the same trend. This is placing increased pressure for small to medium enterprises who cannot compete with large businesses. Further, it' s a threat to Australia’s completeness as we face increased competition from overseas and the growth of digital marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, who provide access to data insights as part of their service. As small business is the source of the majority of employment opportunities, this trend can have significant long-term consequences.
A key challenge for businesses is to understand what skills they need in order to achieve their business goals. This is mainly due to a lack of understanding of these strategies at very senior management levels, and the pace of change that is seeing the skills mix shift more rapidly than ever before.
"...it is clear there is an urgent need to provide training in these new skills if small and medium-sized businesses are to remain competitive"
In order to help our industry ADMA has developed a framework that:
- Defines the key skills and capabilities that a modern data-driven / digital marketer should possess to be effective;
- Sets benchmarks for proficiencies required for any marketing role;
- Assesses and quantifies gaps between required skill mix and the current skills within a team; and
- Allows business to quickly identify and fill gaps in team skills.
While many companies are already using our framework, the reality is that businesses are still woefully underinvesting in the development of skills within teams. The trend has been to seek the question of new skills via hiring strategies but as more business are competing for the finite number of skills professionals, the cost of this strategy is increasing. Many companies also report that hiring is challenging, as it is difficult to fully determine if someone has the requisite skills until after they join – another cost that many small businesses can ill-afford.
We need to address this issue as an industry and quickly. I have presented at small business forums where it is clear there is an urgent need to provide training in these new skills if small and medium-sized businesses are to remain competitive.
We need business to adopt a standard that defines the skills and proficiencies needed that can be quantified and assessed so that employers can hire with confidence. Business leaders need to invest in training (time and money) for current staff to the same degree that they invest in technology or data acquisition strategies. We need Government to invest in technology infrastructure that allows business to compete and to provide assistance in funding training.