Tech skills shortage forcing marketing chiefs to outsource

Half of marketing leaders face tech skills shortage, forcing them to outsource services, as reliance on digital to deliver best brand experiences grows

More than half of marketing leaders are facing a technical skills shortage, leading them to outsource services to deliver brand experiences.

Some 55% of marketing leaders across the UK and US say a shortage of technical skills in recruits is one of their top challenges, according to a new report by global brand experience agency FIRST – the most complete audit of top-level marketing experts since Covid-19 emerged. 

Marketeers increasingly rely on digital to deliver brand experiences

This comes as marketeers rely increasingly on digital to deliver the best brand experiences, including virtual or hybrid events – with data capture and management software required.

With the pandemic changing the nature of the events industry, the report found that four in ten (42%) respondents have already made the switch from online-only and in-person only events to hybrid ones in the last year.

Yet when quizzed about the biggest problems facing the sector, 14% cited lack of access to the right technology resources and talent, meaning many organisations may struggle to compete in delivering meaningful experiences for attendees.

Majority of marketing leaders outsourcing brand experience function

Due to such skills shortage along with the increasing demand for digital, 41% of marketing leaders say they are considering hiring digital specialists in-house, but in the meantime, four in five (90%) say they are now gearing up to outsource crucial expertise in a race to achieve the competitive advantages tech offers.

They plan to outsource some or all their brand experience function – either by retaining an agency or expert freelancers or by establishing an embedded agency within model. In fact, three quarters (78%) have already farmed out more of their experiential portfolio over the last year, with over a third (37%) planning to make staff members redundant.

Meghan Henshall, Google Global Events Strategic Solutions Lead and a client of FIRST, identifies digital as a key area of focus for the organisation as it looks to outsource its skills pool. Traditionally self-reliant, the Global Events Team is now working with sources outside the organisation to secure the skills needed post pandemic, moving to an agency-within model for the first time recently.

"We're all the better for reaching out for more collaboration externally,” says Megan. “Across the board, we no longer work in silos and with capabilities now integrated, there is community and connection, which are vital for any events' operation. People can readily swap ideas and knowledge and call upon the support of others in managing the new market realities shaped by Covid."

Data and analytics is top priority for marketeers

The report further found that many of the world's leading marketeers are keen to update their data collection processes as they navigate the transition from in-person experiences to data-rich online ones.

One in three (35%) flagged up data and analytics as a top priority, with a lack of data collection and analysis capabilities at online events the biggest blocker for 11% during the pandemic.

"Our report shows that the experiential industry is becoming ever more complex and competitive,” says Jennifer Kauf, SVP Creative Strategy & Brand Marketing at FIRST. “Integration and delivery of content across every viable platform is key, but with so many channels available, the challenge is knowing how your end-user likes to receive it and when they like to.”

It is perhaps because there is no one size fits all solution that the growing tendency among those who oversee the brand experience function is to enlist outsourced expertise.

“A partnership relationship with a seasoned provider that has built its name on staying ahead of the trends is an increasingly attractive prospect, whether this involves establishing a scalable embedded agency-within or simply benefiting from outside consulting."

Read the FIRST report here.

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