PART II: Talent Gap A Major Impact On Digital ROI

While CMOs do plan to invest, a major focus of that investment must also be on hiring, retraining and redeploying people to improve efficiency, agility and responsiveness of the organization.

From an agency perspective, in an article written by Patrick Rona, president of Tribal DDB Asia Pacific, titled “The Digital Talent Gap”. He gave his point of view slightly after arriving in his new role in Asia.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about the word ‘talent’ lately. Before moving to Asia, the digital ‘talent gap’ was the most frequently cited issue that people told me I’d face here. And true enough, since moving here, the lack of people with the specific set of digital skills that I was used to in Europe has been palpable. “


To him the core of the problem lies with us as an industry. According to Rona,
with every other period when the ‘old’ way competed with the ‘new’ way of thinking, the old ways eventually won.

This model has been turned upside down in the digital age. Consumers actively tell companies what products they want. Rona explained that seeking out people who can combine relevant experience, a passionate curiosity about how things work, and a desire to explore and apply new models and ways of working was more beneficial to a new agency model.

Rona also agreed though agencies are making a conscious effort, as an industry it is still not enough because agencies religiously focus on the top and bottom line of a P&L statement, training is often one of the first ‘cost’ lines to get cut – ironic since it’s product is people and ideas.

On the other hand we have brands that are doing the total opposite – removing the digital marketing department entirely from its company structure.

Citibank in an effort to adopt digital thinking, thought it would be best to employ a “There’s no path for you if you don’t,” think digital.

Vanessa Collela believed everyone in a company’s marketing department needs to be fluent in digital strategy. “We did a lot of internal training, and we hired strategically,” taking on people from Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google.”


Her point of view is “Digital is not a department,” Colella said. “It’s not a department at Citi, not at our agency … I don’t want it to be at our partners.”

In Asia, I’ve seen both of these cases come to life, especially in my client’s organization and the agency itself. Truth be told there is merit in both of what Rona and Vanessa is saying about a sense of culture and changing the old guard.

Based off a collaborative study done in Singapore by Campaign Magazine and EConsultancy, Company culture jumped four places since last year, making it the most significant barrier to further investment in digital marketing for both clients and agencies alike.


Around two in five companies (39%) say this is a top-three barrier, up from 26% in 2012. Lack of staff to make most of any digital investment is now the second most significant barrier to investment, with just under a third (30%) of client-side respondents mentioning it.

From an agency perspective, company culture (54%) and lack of understanding about digital marketing (53%) represent the most significant barriers to clients investing more money. Compared to last year, both client-side and agency respondents are more likely to single out company culture (+13%) as the main issue.


Drawing some conclusions to this, the lack of understanding of ROI is very much two sides of the coin for agencies and marketeers. On one side, agencies sees the need to invest in knowledge and the right staff. They understand that there is a major change that needs to be made in the way they think and also breaking down stereotypes within the agency.

On the other hand marketeers are also identifying the shortfalls of its judgment making business investments within digital technology. Some might even go to the extent of saying perhaps being a little over zealous – in the case of Citibank. Others, perhaps the dollar value carrying more weight in the types of people that can deliver returns.



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