Marketing Skills of the Future, Now


I have dozens of conversations with marketers every week. And in almost every conversation, the topic turns to skills. Skills shortages. Employee capabilities. And technology. The rapidly changing marketing technology landscape shifts each quarter with new features, functions, platforms and data coming into play. Meanwhile, universities are pumping out graduates whose capabilities are already out of date.

It is becoming clear that we need marketing skills for the future. But we need them now.

I recently discussed these skill gaps with MediaScope’s Denise Shrivell, AOL’s Yasmin Sanders and RadiumOne’s Adam Furness. Each week Denise presents a 30 minute live video chat on the topics impacting Australia’s media and advertising industry, and this episode focusing on skill shortages was a cracker. On a positive note, we are seeing forward momentum. But are we seeing the gap closing? Watch a replay of the episode below.

Addressing skill gaps by improving your innovation fitness

Over the last 12 months I have been working with a range of clients on their digital and marketing strategies. As part of this work, we map out not just the strategic landscape, but the skills needed to deliver. Sometimes this means:

  • In-house teams need training
  • Finding the right agency to fill the gap
  • Every now and then, creating something entirely new – which is when the project gets really exciting.

One of the programs we have developed to help organisations to continue to move forward in this environment is called Innovation Fitness. The Innovation Fitness program, with its bootcamp, ongoing mentoring and support and target skills audit process is not just about closing the gap, but about delivering changes in the ways that you work.

After all, the future is not determined by technology but by our reactions to it. The questions we all need to ask ourselves is “How clear is our future skills strategy? And are we even on the right path?”.

Talking Social and Digital Trends on the Echo Junction Podcast


GavinHeatonx300 Podcasts are one of my newly discovered joys. A well curated list of subscriptions basically means that you can remain up-to-date with your fields of interest independently of the mainstream media. This is particularly useful for topics that are too niche for the media or too controversial – which is why my personal subscription list includes podcasts on the topics of digital and social media, Australian history, and the history of writing and language (often including large amounts of swearing).

Podcasts also mean that you have a greater role in programming your own media content, so if you don’t like what you hear, you can unsubscribe and find something you like more.

One of my regular casts is Adam Fraser’s Echo Junction. With dozens of podcasts recorded this year, he has been seeking out and presenting some of the best thinkers and doers in the online world for the last year or so. He meticulously researches, prepares questions and challenges his guests to connect the dots between the enterprise and digital worlds. Some of the best episodes include:

Back in April 2015, I joined Adam to talk social business and the enterprise landscape, and last week we got together again to think about the future – 2016 – and what it might hold for the world of social and digital. It wasn’t an interview. It was a discussion. You can listen in here (and argue with me on Twitter).

IT’s Big Secret – Platforming: Bringing IT and Marketing Together


The big IT companies have a secret. And it’s a secret that can radically transform your business. For the last decade or so, technology has been converging – with different technology stacks coming into alignment, sharing interfaces, connecting data and improving the process of software development and deployment. As a result, we have seen huge improvements in the capability of software to impact business. Just think about:

  • The rise and role of data in business decision making
  • The importance and focus on dashboards and data visualisation
  • The growth of mobile and location based information
  • The abundance of “internet of things” devices and sensors
  • The near ubiquitous adoption of smartphones.

Behind the scenes, technology companies have been “platforming” – turning their business processes and models into digital systems. They do this across four key business dimensions:

  • Social: The Social dimension has the potential to deliver powerful, personal yet scalable CONNECTION. It offers a single conversational channel, builds trust and offers a way to accelerate a resolution or conversion process
  • Mobile: The Mobile dimension delivers LOCATION. With a connected device in your pocket (close to your beating heart), a mobile phone is the convergence point where the digital and the “real” worlds collide
  • Analytics: The power of big data is not in crunching everything known about a customer. The real value is in delivering AWARENESS to a network. This effectively means creating USER context from the social, mobile and business data signals available
  • Cloud: And the cloud provides the mechanism for SERVICE. To remain relevant to customers, brands must re-acquaint themselves with the value of service. And Cloud provides the mechanism to do so.

But the challenge for marketers is that these dimensions are largely unconnected to marketing. They rightly belong to the company’s technology teams. Right?

Combining marketing and IT capabilities

The greatest opportunity for business is to combine the expertise of marketing and IT. Marketers usually view their customers through the lens of media – combining paid, owned and earned media to reach and engage them. We have shifted, however, beyond this broadcast approach – and this is increasingly being enabled by the SMAC platforms.

To more effectively bridge the marketing and IT fields, we need new ways of thinking, collaborating and conceptualising what it is that we do. We need a shared language, shared measurements and cross-line-of-business visibility into key performance indicators, pressures, deadlines and processes. And this means digital transformation.

Is it possible? It has to be. For only through this kind of alignment will we be able to deeply impact our customer’s brand experience.

I spoke in more detail on this subject recently. See my slides and the presentation here.


DH - From Media to Experience (3)

Disruption is the Future of Work: The All Consuming Employee


It’s not hard to see the future of work. In fact, it’s right there in front of our faces. It is happening under our noses. At the desks, in the hallways and foyers of our organisations. It is even happening in the homes of our staff, executives and customers.  And it is changing even what we consider “work” to be.

A quick search on LinkedIn revealed almost 40,00 Australians with “freelance” in their title, and almost 100,000 Australians working in a self-employed or contractor capacity. For these people, the idea of a “9-to-5” job is anathema – either through choice (they prefer to work beyond the walls of a single employer) or through circumstances (full time working conditions cannot be accommodated for a variety of reasons, from health to age, experience to opportunity).

Furthermore, statistics on telework and the business use of information technology from the ABS (from 2012), revealed that more that a third of micro businesses use the internet to allow staff to work from home, while this more than doubled for larger businesses, with 75% providing facilities for staff to work from home via technology.

And when we add to this the number of individuals who take on side projects in their spare time for cash via sites like oDesk or Freelancer or even those willing to work for a fiverr, it becomes clear that “work” is quite a different beast than it was in the Twentieth Century.

The challenge of course, is that the future of work involves a disruption of work itself. And this pushes staff, executives and HR departments into new territory. Or does it?

Katie Chatfield and Jon Paul Potts from Jack Morton have provided a quick refresher on why CEOs should care about employee engagement. Take a read and then take a look around you. How’s the future from your point of view?

Marketing Provocations from We Are Social, Singapore

My Chernobyl Adventure part 2: Fallout Danger

The WeAreSocial team in Singapore consistently produce thought provoking research and showcase the powerhouse that is Asia. Their regular reports (available on Slideshare) aggregate data from across the web and make connections between the trends and the reality on the ground. And for those wanting to understand the shifts in marketing in Asia, they provide a great series of primers. (Of course, the best thing to do is to GO.)

The latest presentation by Simon Kemp, shifts this up a level, offering eight provocations on the future of marketing. No matter whether you are  client-side or work for an agency, these provocations offer a powerful challenge to the status quo of the way that we carry on the BUSINESS of MARKETING.

  1. Social equity drives brand value. Think participation rather than broadcast.
  2. Communities have more value than platforms. Think outside-in rather than inside-out.
  3. All marketing must add value – Think why rather than how.
  4. On the go is the way to go – Think mobile only rather than mobile first
  5. From big idea to leitmotivs – Think traction rather than blast
  6. From selective hearing to active listening – Think signal rather than noise
  7. Experiences are the new products – Think benefits rather than features
  8. CSR evolves into civic engagement – Think doing good as the price of doing well

Now, if these indeed are provocations, they are aimed precisely at the way that we marketers do our work, conceptualise it and execute on it. It becomes personal very quickly. So the question we must ask ourselves is – “which of these most impact me, my work and my customers – and what will I do about it”. I would love to know your thoughts!

Bridging the Social Chasm

Customer Experience Chasm

When IBM’s Center for Business Value released its 2011 report into the relationship between social media, marketing and brands, it revealed a “perception gap”. On the one hand, marketers had an understanding that their connected consumers “wanted” or even “expected” a certain style of interaction through social media. And on the other hand, there was the hard reality of what those customers actually wanted. The gap between the two was the distance between two competing realities.

But is anyone listening?

In reality, we are not really dealing with a gap. It could be better described as a “mismatch” – after all, a “gap” would indicate some alignment. But the problem for brands is that the distance between the two sets of expectations is growing. We are now dealing with a widening chasm in the world of customer experience.


Two years after IBM’s original report, even a casual investigation of most branded social media would indicate that the chasm is becoming more pronounced as brands continue to shift their marketing spend and resources into digital and social media (Gartner’s US Digital Marketing Spending Report indicates that 25% of the marketing budget is now devoted to digital).

But when it comes to business effectiveness, more budget is not necessarily always the answer (though there would be few marketers who would refuse an increase, I am sure). To bridge the social chasm, business must begin to re-think, re-action and re-calibrate their organisational approach to social:

  • Re-think: Start with what you know. Create a new social baseline and audit all your activity for assessment. Real time analytics and dashboards such as those from Anametrix can provide the kinds of decision-ready data that is essential to informed decision-making
  • Re-calibrate: If you have started a social business program in the last two years, it’s now worthwhile assessing its impact. Have you achieved the original milestones? Has the program had the kind of impact that you expected? Take a look at R “Ray” Wang’s 50 use cases that help demystify social business and think through the business processes and workflows that are business critical. Are your social programs impacting business results? If not, it may be time to recalibrate.
  • Re-action: This is no time for social business fatigue. No one ever said that change was easy. And equally, no business achieved competitive advantage by being complacent. It’s time to re-action the business programs that are core to your strategy.

What’s your experience?

Interestingly, this recent workplace research study by Microsoft revealed that there is also a chasm between business management and the workforce. Teams not only expect or demand more collaboration – about 17% of people are actively ignoring IT policy and installing social tools independently. This is delivering some value to the business – with 60 percent of participants in the Microsoft study indicating that their use of social tools has increased productivity – but this would be a far cry from the billions of locked-in value that McKinsey Global Institute’s 2012 study revealed.

If businesses can’t work to unlock the value in the low hanging opportunities within their own business, how long will customers have to wait?

It seems like there are whole industries on the brink of disruption. Social may not be the driving force, but it could be the trigger.

Microsoft Social Tools in the Workplace Research Study by Mark Fidelman

SuccessConnect – Where Talent and Social Collide at the SuccessFactors Conference


Did the Job You’re In Exist When You Were Studying?

Got a new job

Got a new job Stéfan via CompfightPredicting the future is incredibly difficult. Ask any psychic. Or marketer. We don’t need research to tell us that the world is changing, or that the future will be different from the past. The challenge is magnified not only by the amount of change that we are seeing in almost every industry, but by the rate at which those changes are taking place.

Futurist, Tim Longhurst says to predict five years into the future you need to look back ten.

Is it any wonder that younger generations entering the workforce are finding it hard to plot their future careers?

As it turns out, I don’t think this problem has changed that much. Marketing was my fourth or fifth career, and I fell into it by accident. But even within the broad field of marketing, I have rarely held a role with a fixed job description. There have always been large grey areas in which I operated most effectively – whether as an incubator of new business units, a strategist, marketing director.

The thing is – I don’t think my career path with its twists and turns is all that different than others. But tell me. Did the job you’re in exist when you were studying?

Got a new job Stéfan via Compfight

Consuming Big Data–The Internet in 2015


Everything that we do on an internet connected device leaves a digital trail. Whether it is an internet enabled refrigerator, a PC, smartphone or tablet – somewhere there is a log file recording of what your device did, what it connected to and when. And if that involves sending files, or creating or consuming content – then that data grows – for those files would be copied, replicated or cached in each location.

Google’s Eric Schmidt famously suggested that from the dawn of civilisation through to 2003, the human race had created roughly 5 exabytes of data. But in 2010 (and beyond), the equivalent is being created every 2 days.

Clearly the proliferation of data since 2010, the growth in devices and digital data consumption has skyrocketed. Not just in Australia. Not just in the US or Europe. But across the globe.

How BIG is big data?

Understanding the scale of data on a massive global scale is challenging. But this infographic from the folks at Cisco provides some great examples (see the “Great Wall of China” quote”).

But the most interesting part of this infographic is not that scale – but the patterns of consumption. Sure we know that video is hot, and will continue to be so. But I like the way that types of video have been broken down. Here are some brief thoughts on each:

  • Short form: This is much like our current viewing behaviour – short clips on YouTube and Vimeo are consumed as entertainment snacks. As we shift our attention from the TV to the device, we will also dedicate more time to longer forms (as suggested in the data)
  • Long form: We will see an explosion not just in entertainment content, but in education and other forms of interactivity. Connected Consumers will challenge production houses, brands and broadcasters to adapt their content to be more interactive, engaging and yes, social. Longer form video will drive demand for those with storytelling and narration skills and experience. Look to see specialist practices and capabilities growing in the areas of short and longer form video.
  • Live internet TV: What live blogging did for events of all kinds will translate to the web. We’re seeing small experiments with apps like Vine, but we can expect this to accelerate in the next two years. If
  • Ambient: The use of music and sound to influence buyer behaviour in retail environments has been long understood. In the coming years, we will see the same sophistication applied to video. This is likely to prompt a deeper connection to analytics products that can measure retail and behavioural impacts.
  • Mobile: For many people, the mobile experience will be the FIRST SCREEN and ONLY SCREEN. This will drive greater innovation in storytelling as well as in the use of location based targeting and services. Video without big data will become irrelevant (not to producers) but to consumers. Video will need to become strategic.
  • Internet PVR: We are already seeing this happen – but can expect moderate growth. But with a growing on-demand culture, the focus will shift away from patterns of collecting to patterns of consuming and sharing.


You Thought Siri Was Cool Until You Got Google Glass

Water Drop ~ Explored ~

I can remember my first bulky personal digital assistant (PDA). It was cumbersome, hard to use and ugly. Very ugly. But I loved it. It felt like a ripple in the fabric of the future.

While at university, I took notes on this PDA, scrambling to jot bullet points into the slim LED screen and save them before we moved onto the next subject. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes I lost whole lectures when the AA batteries failed. But even then I realised that there was serious value in being able to search through lecture notes on-the-fly.

And then along came the Palm Pilot. I thought the handwriting recognition was a breakthrough. As I skimmed my stylus across the plastic screen I really felt that I was experiencing another of those ripples in the fabric of the future. It was the right device at the right time – a bridge between my analog and digital worlds. But it wasn’t just a PDA, it was a phone too. And it was changing the world.

With each new innovation, the barriers between me and my device would evaporate. They became easier to use, smarter, friendlier – and dare I say it – more human. Each iteration would be less about the device and more about the experience. My experience. It was like the technology was disappearing before my eyes.

Recently, when Siri came along, we celebrated as if the world had turned on its side. Apple had somehow, again, not only innovated on top of its already innovative iPhone platform – they trumped themselves and changed our relationship with the technology. Now you didn’t even need to swipe and type, you could speak. You could ask questions.

And we all loved Siri. But, for me, Siri was a constant reminder that I was using a device. A particular device. It called out my own reliance on that device and its manufacturer – for always in the background, there was that awareness that the experience was being delivered only by Apple. In many ways, Siri wasn’t just a ripple in the fabric of the future, it was the rock that caused the splash.

But Google’s Glass project fascinates me – partly because it is literally transparent.

As you can see from this video, it’s freshly intuitive – and that’s saying something considering Google’s usually clunky interfaces. But the thing that excites me most is the way that experience – human experience – is front and centre. For decades, technology has drawn us away from the body and focused our minds on the screen. But here, we are celebrating, not the technology, but the body in action. It’s technology taking a back seat. It’s the always on Kodak moment.

And its the closest we’ve yet seen to the future.

At least until the next ripple.

Water Drop ~ Explored ~ Sergiu Bacioiu via Compfight