A checklist for the marketer of the future

The business world is changing faster than ever, so marketers must be ready and equipped to adapt to new ways of working in this environment. By Mhairi McEwan.

As Generation Y/Millennials begin to take on senior roles in the workforce (the first Gen Y chief executive of a British FTSE company is expected to be appointed by 2016, according to Deloitte’s "Upwardly Mobile" report) the pace of change in business is accelerating dramatically. There is not a sector, function or role that will be immune to the sweeping changes that lie ahead.

It makes sense, therefore, for marketers to consider ways of future-proofing our careers so that we can work intuitively in this constantly shifting landscape and with the new styles of leadership driven by the next generation of business leaders.

Here, then, are our key ways of working for the "Marketer of the Future".

Agility. Marketing is increasingly "always-on" and iterative. Consumers will expect real-time responses, so organisations need to have well-practised, agile ways of working, and marketers the right skills to be prepared for this and make it happen.

Working in beta. Technology is promoting a "test-and-learn" mentality that should be adopted; "failing fast and failing cheap" – or else "succeeding fast and winning big" – will become the norm for most businesses. Companies have to innovate to survive, so the marketers who win will be those who can think, act and deliver results flexibly.

Digital everywhere. Digital will be elevated to a more senior level within organisations and extend beyond communications. In our increasingly tech-savvy world, using technology will be a given. Marketers will need to navigate core pillars of the digital world, such as gamification and social networks, and understand implicitly their value in brand-building and driving customer value. Social learning is set to be a big trend, with "moocs" (massive open online courses) an important new learning platform. Sharing knowledge socially will become the norm. Everyone in the workforce needs to be ready to engage with these methods or get left behind.

Use of data. Data will be built into every aspect of marketing and drive fact-based decision-making across an organisation. Marketers will still need a balance between magic (creativity) and logic, but strong analytical skills will be vital to ensure that data-driven insight is used well and they can relate to their chief information officer.

T-shaped skill set. Generalist roles will be balanced with specialist ones; for example, digital knowledge must be under­stood across the organisa­tion and not just sit with the digital "expert". Marketers should develop a T-shaped skill set to ensure they have a greater breadth of know­ledge to ensure mastery and creativity. Combining spec­ialist expertise with holistic business capabilities will allow marketers to stay grounded in this fast-moving environment.

Organisations and marketers who recognise the capabilities they need to develop to keep up with the coming Generation Y/Millen­nial leadership era – and equip themselves with the appropriate capabilities – will be the ones who not only survive, but flourish.

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