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Digital Disruption: 5 Challenges For Marketing Leaders

Digital and an increasing global sharing economy are redefining the marketing landscape. In Part 1 of this three-part series, we looked at five trends influencing marketers’ strategies as they respond to disruption. In Part 2, we examined five technologies behind the rapid change.

Now, in Part 3, let’s look at five major challenges marketing leaders can expect to face in the future.

1. Robots will replace workers: A recent report by the World Economic Forum predicts that automation, robotics, and AI will replace 40% of jobs over the next 20 years.

The velocity of technological change will make it harder for businesses to keep pace and to hire, educate, and train staff. Leaders will need to find a cohesive mix of experienced “veterans” and digital natives to achieve maximum productivity.

2. Pi-shaped employee model: Evolving from single-skilled workers to jacks-of-all-trades-but-masters-of-none, we will arrive at the pi-shaped employee model. These employees will have a broad base of knowledge and capabilities in both left-brain and right-brain disciplines. They will be both analytical and data-driven yet understand brands, storytelling, and experiential marketing.

We need to look at our talent acquisition plans to ensure we bring people with these skills onto our teams. That, in turn, will ensure we are best placed to adapt for this coming worker evolution.

3. Digital is not a maybe--it’s a must: Within the next two years, two-thirds of Global 2000 enterprise CEOs will place digital transformation at the centre of their corporate strategies. Over the next three to five years, the percentage of enterprises with advanced digital strategies and implementations will more than double. This scale-up of digital business strategies will drive everything that matters in enterprises’ IT investments.

4. The “full-stack” digital leader: The expectation is not necessarily for leaders to understand the operational workings of specific systems, but they will need to start to understand technology.

The “full-stack” digital leader possesses the skills to help their organizations navigate the rapidly evolving and shifting technological landscape. From the top, leaders can effectively draw value from large amounts of data and combine creative thinking to create inspiring visions. Like the pi-shaped employee, leaders need to have a natural grasp of the importance of storytelling and user experience, as well as an appreciation for design, while remaining oriented towards learning and experimentation.

5. Board literacy: If leaders need to make big investments in digital technology to remain relevant, they’ll also need boards that support them. However, according to recent research, only 18 out of 300 companies (6%) said they had a board of directors who could be described as “highly digital.”

Companies need to do more to place digitally savvy members on their boards and provide more education for all board members. Executives that find blocks with their boards are mostly likely dealing with people from a pre-digital era.

Leaders across all industries face an uncertain future, but they can start the transformation of their businesses now. By analysing their organisations’ digital skillsets, strategic capabilities, talent hiring, leadership capabilities, and board experience, they will be in a better position to leapfrog their competition and navigate the coming disruptions. 

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