Our 2022 Marketing State of Play Study, undertaken for a second year in collaboration with Michael Page Australia, has uncovered, that organisations are still dramatically underinvesting in training and development, despite 40% of leaders stating that there is major skill gap in the data & analytics space within their organisation.
The study surveyed more than 220 marketing and digital leaders across Australia, and examined the challenges and priorities within marketing teams, the growing skills gap, digital transformation, how ready teams are for impending privacy and 3rd party cookie changes, MarTech areas of investment and more.
Priorities and challenges, there are many
The study found that brand development and brand purpose topped the list, with 56% of leaders saying it was the top priority for their team in 2022. Driving the growth agenda (44%), customer data strategy (41%) and digital transformation (30%) also featured in the top 5 priorities out of a total of 14.
The report also looked at what is challenging teams most, with customer data strategy (19%) & digital transformation (18%) also featuring in the top 5, highlighting that while these initiatives are important for organisations, teams are really struggling to execute on them. The single biggest challenge facing teams by far however, is the ability to balance short and long-term priorities, with 48% of leaders saying it is the number 1 challenge within their team.
Given that the top priority for teams is brand development and embedding brand purpose, marketing and digital teams need to understand that this has to go well beyond campaigns. In an experience era where customer experiences define the brand, CX is a very big part of modern-day brand management. However, the study has uncovered that less than half of leaders today (44%) have full responsibility for CX. When we look closer at those who are prioritising brand development and purpose, it paints a similar picture, with 57% not having ownership of CX, or only have partial ownership.
For more marketing teams to be seen as the appropriate leaders in CX, marketers need to think beyond campaigns, become true experts in the customer and how they engage with the brand, and have a willingness to work cross-functionally to bring the desired customer experience to life.
Teams are underinvesting in training and development
According to the study’s findings, nearly 4 in 10 teams do not have a dedicated training and development budget in place – and of those who do, 41% are investing $1,000 or less per team member. The lack of investment isn’t just occurring within smaller companies either, with the study finding that of those without a training and development budget, 55% have a turnover above $50m, and 34% have a turnover above $100m.
The study suggests that organisations need to rethink their training and development investment and strategy, with a good learning and development program not only about training, but about leveraging an array of learning modes and providing learning opportunities for team members to bolster their skills and experience, across both soft and technical skill areas.
It is important for organisations to invest at the appropriate level to re-skill and re-tool teams in line with the changing market. Whilst on-the-job learning has always been seen as the best approach, the cost of not complementing this with other forms of learning and development can be significant, and as a result, businesses forgo revenue and value due to team members not being equipped with the skills to deliver on key outcomes.
Barriers to digital transformation
The study has also shown that the number one barrier to driving digital transformation today is that teams lack the capability and skills to drive change in digital.
Teams are expected to solve new and different challenges, yet too few businesses are prepared to invest in developing their teams in the face of substantive change. Given that people drive transformation, a lack of expertise to effectively leverage digital and data will stall progress on transformation within an organisation.
The skill gap is hindering progress across marketing and digital teams due to the strong focus on the growth and transformation agenda - and as marketers lean into tackle strategic challenges like growth, CX and key data initiatives like 3rd party cookie deprecation and building a robust customer data strategy, the growing skill gap in data and analytics and other key areas like strategic planning, CX and others will continue to be a burden and many will find it difficult to significantly move strategic initiatives forward.
Brands simply aren't ready for 3rd party cookie depreciation
The study revealed that only 12% of brands feel as though they have a clear path forward when it comes to 3rd party cookie depreciation, with 45% stating that they have yet to start planning at all. Adapting to 3rd party cookie deprecation is not a quick fix, it requires robust planning and a solid understanding of the impacts of the change.
On the privacy front, the study also took a look at the level of knowledge and understanding of Australian privacy principles within teams, and the majority of leaders (55%) told us that their teams don’t have a strong grasp of them. Too often privacy can be viewed as the role of legal and compliance teams - but this is short sighted, as consumer privacy is all about consumer consent, control and data utilisation.
With some of the world's largest brands like Google and Apple leading the way on privacy for consumers others need to take note. Brands need to think beyond compliance and focus on data ethics, and be able to draw the link between brand reputation and privacy so the organisation understands how important the privacy agenda is.
The full report covers:
The priorities and challenges facing marketing and digital teams
Digital transformation and what is hindering progress
The growing skills gap
How teams are driving efficiency and performance
A deep dive into data and privacy
How marketing structures and capabilities are shaping up
MarTech and the issues that continue to burden teams
A snapshot of the recruitment and talent market