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Bridging marketing’s data and digital skills gap


The Digital Economy is increasingly important to every business and country throughout Europe, with the estimated turnover for the continent expected to reach £182bn (€216bn) in 2016, which would mark a 16.7% increase on the previous year. However, a concern for many companies in the coming years is ensuring that they have the data and digital skills within their businesses to succeed.

The growing digital economy means businesses have to evolve to new online communications channels and trends. In fact, figures from the British Chamber of Commerce’s workforce survey found that two-thirds of businesses consider tech knowledge a key skill when hiring new staff, with a quarter of these companies reporting a digital skills shortage. Meaning companies across Europe are increasingly in need of the skills required to remain competitive in a globally connected world.

Sébastien Houzé, Secretary General of FEDMA, says: “Data is the lifeblood of many companies and particular the marketers within those businesses. As such, we need people that are able to interpret that insight and then use it to drive creativity and help to predict the right customer journey on a one-to-one level. However, the data-driven marketing industry must remain respectful in this digital marketplace, always ensuring they put the consumer first. The customer is always right and online trust is the key, making compliance and education a driving factor in forming a long-term relationship between customer and brand.”

Joost van Nispen, head of FEAC stirring committee states: “Data is the main force that drives marketing forward. Without Data, the web would be nothing more than a collection of digital brochures. Data already allows us to fulfil the ancient dream of communicating the right message to the right prospect through the right medium. Data together with Digital enables us to do so in real time, frame it in the context of a dialog, and convert our social reputation into the foundation of our brand. In the near future, many of these processes will be further enriched artificial intelligence, augmented - and virtual reality and intelligent products connected with their users via mobile apps. “

Jane Cave, MD at the IDM, comments: “We live in an increasingly connected world and every interaction between customers and brands is creating data, so it’s more important than ever that marketing teams have the right skills within their teams to decide if, how and when to use this insight. In this ever-changing digital marketing landscape, it’s more important than ever to be prepared. For many businesses that will mean hiring and training staff with the right data and digital marketing skills to help navigate this uncertain future. For some this may require dramatic changes in how they work, but one thing that is clear is that those businesses that act now will reap their rewards in the coming years.”

Bridging the skills gap

Joost van Nispen, head of FEAC stirring committee highlights: ”Our industry faces many challenges, but a study we carried out in Spain recently clearly shows that the major challenge our industry faces is the lack of talent properly trained in the competencies of the data-driven & digital economy. Companies need data scientists, experts in agile and lean methodologies, and professionals capable of developing digital and data-driven strategies to acquire new customers, increase the value and loyalty of existing ones, and turn customers into brand advocates. Practical, hands-on education is the key to meeting this challenge”.

This gap in digital skills is already significant, which is why FEDMA set up its FEAC accreditation to help the industry to find recommended training programmes that will help bridge the divide within their organisation. The IDM has joined this European initiative to help the next generation of marketers acquire the data and digital skills they need, with accredited courses now available including:

To help marketers across Europe prepare for the incoming General Data Protection Regulations and other data protection best practice, the IDM also offers a range of dedicated short courses, including:

Joost van Nispen, head of FEAC stirring committee continues: “The fact that an institution with the prestige and worldwide reach of IDM has chosen to take part in the FEAC process and have some of their programs certified is an eloquent testimony to the value that FEAC certification adds to educational institutions, their students and the industry alike. “

Jane Cave comments: “At the IDM, we pride ourselves on offering top quality training from experienced and active marketing specialists. This means our students are able to learn the latest data and digital strategies or techniques from professionals that are actually on the ground doing every day. We believe this access to experienced marketers means we’re able to keep course content up to date with the latest trends across the industry. Joining FEAC means that our training is now recognised across Europe as a leading source of marketing knowledge, as well as the latest insight.”

FEAC: Educating the next generation

Sébastien Houzé explains: “We started FEAC in the 1990s, under the title PEEAC original, with the mission to help marketers and students to expand their skillsets in a fast-changing sector. Since launch, we’ve been able to help professionals across the industry to gain the knowledge they need to be more competitive in an increasingly data-driven, digital and global marketplace.”

Jane Cave adds: “We are proud to join FEAC and its other members in striving for the highest possible standards in educating the data and digital marketing industry matches. This is something we’ve been passionate about in the UK for many years, so to work together with FEDMA and FEAC over the coming years to spread this message even further is an exciting opportunity.”

FEAC currently includes seven institutes across Europe that offer six different marketing programs, certified by a committee of representatives from industry and educational institutions. The committee updates the core competencies required in these programmes annually, helping students to meet the evolving standards required.

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