Digital, and technology, seems to endlessly create new specialisms, and morph others, vital to ensuring success for organisations in all sectors and of any size. This article will look in detail at the key skills across digital your organisation should be considering when building a team ready for transformation.
What’s your vision, and who owns it?
As online continues to grow in importance as an area for growth in sales, service provision and customer engagement, companies are starting to identify a lack of both the hard and soft skills necessary to taking advantage of this opportunity and demonstrating digital excellence.
We can consider hard skills to be those involved with technical execution – delivery, development and implementation. While soft skills may cover communications and connections, both internal and external, and roles that ensure outputs are colleague and customer-centric.
As mentioned in our previous article key leadership roles across your organisation must be on board with a digital transformation for it to succeed. Buy-in from senior roles all the way up to CEO, CIO and CMO will ensure support for the recruitment process of these skills and create an environment for them to drive change.
Starting with strategy is key here – it’s vitally important to focus on outcomes over outputs in the first instance. By recruiting roles that feed directly into organisational leadership you can ensure that a digital strategy is formed that aligns closely with any overall organisational one – vision will be shared and measures for success will be agreed upon at every level. We have already covered a digital leadership role at length in a previous article but it is worth reiterating how important this role is in drawing together the whole digital picture and feeding it into your senior leadership.
Supporting this effort is the strategist role – a good digital strategist will get to the heart of an organisation’s aims, understand the wider landscape you work within and start to draw the links between organisational aims, digital opportunities and the desired outcomes that form your digital strategy. They play a key role in how this is communicated, and most often own the creation of a roadmap of outcomes, ideas and deliverables that guide you to that all Important digital transformation. The rest of the digital skills you need to consider are really drawn from this strategy, and roadmap.
Next up in your key leadership roles are those focused on delivery – the Product Owner and Project Manager. These roles are the glue that binds your strategic work and your delivery outputs and skills together, ensuring requirements are fully formed, agreed upon and delivered effectively.
The Project Manager is a liaison between your digital and delivery teams, ensuring budgets are managed, plans are executed on time, and key information and updates are collected and presented to stakeholders and senior leadership.
A Product Owner, meanwhile, takes responsibility for the products delivered, ensuring requirements are clear, understood and, most importantly, aligned to the digital strategy, organisation’s aims and user needs.
Another important area to consider when bringing these roles on board is that they may also own two other important areas. The first is consideration for ethics, compliance and, of course, GDPR – drawing from the more specific skillsets detailed below and ensuring due diligence is done.
The second is taking ownership of the organisation’s ‘digital knowledge’. This goes both ways – we’ve covered the importance of digitally literate leadership, but digital teams that understand the organisation’s aims, and how they feed into these, function better. And ensuring your whole company understands digital, its role and the skills within the team help avoid those dreaded silos too.
What skills are needed for great execution?
With leadership, strategy and management accounted for, what are the skills you need to consider to define outputs, deliver them and ensure results are understood and reacted to? Below you’ll find the key areas for digital delivery, and some of the roles you’ll commonly see within them.
Content is still king, and content creation really is a key skill for digital success. New trends and styles are developing all the time. While you may be familiar with traditional written content, imagery and video/audio content, which remain vital, it is newer innovations such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and technology such as 360° video that are driving fresh ideas.
What must be considered for any content creator is an affinity for storytelling – the best content will represent your brand well and shape your audience’s digital experiences in a voice they can engage with. Depending on your customer base, multiple languages and dialects should be considered too.
Roles to be thinking about when bring content skills into your digital team include:
- Digital content creator
- Graphic Designer,
- Video Producer
- Motion Graphic Designer
User Experience and Service Design
User Experience (UX) design is key to shaping your digital experiences - tying together content, digital delivery and user interfaces to ensure journeys run smoothly and maximise your KPIs. UX skills ensure that your content and development output are focused on customer need and will often be the key source of building audience understanding through research too. It’s worth also considering expanding this skillset to include service design – taking in the entire digital experience and product in the context of a full user journey and helping your customers’ digital experience to form a useful and beneficial part of their whole experience.
Roles you may consider in this area include:
- UX Designer
- Service Designer
- UX Researcher
It goes without saying that development skills are essential to deliver products and digital experiences – but the modern developer is most successful when they back this skillset up with an awareness of both user experience and data.
Software development will remain key to delivering digital products and you should consider skills in both front-end delivery - the user interfaces and visual elements of digital experience; and the back-end software delivery that powers it, creates the content management systems, and handles the data.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC) remain the key methods of ensuring people can find your content, products and online experiences and expertise here is key to your organisation’s digital success. These are key skills and alongside enlisting experts in these areas you may consider ensuring various team members have an understanding - content and front-end development, for example, are well served by knowledge in this area.
Conversely, an SEO professional would also be benefitted by a good understanding of web and tech structures – understanding how web pages or digital product are architected and how search engines and advertising channels interact with them.
Email and Social Media Marketing
Social Media and Email are prime channels for reaching new and existing customers. These are key channels to get right when aiming to be customer-centric – so when bringing these skills into your digital team a close link with your content team will be valuable.
A Social Media Manager can be the ‘voice’ of your brand, and has the potential to be a key route into your organisation for new customers. Maintaining that relationship through email marketing, without overdoing it, is a delicate balance.
Roles you may consider here include:
- Social Manager or Executive
- or Email Marketing Executive
Success in both areas, though, can be technical and require a good understanding of automation, audience and the all-important matter of data.
Data should underpin all of your decision making and KPIs. It’s become a hot topic in recent years and it’s undeniable that an ability to gather data and analytics, understand and sort it to analyse and establish how best to respond can unlock success with your digital delivery. It offers insight and expertise in areas such as marketing automation, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning.
The rest of your digital team should understand why data is important, and your data experts, be they Data Scientists or Data Analysts, should have an appreciation of wider digital skills and execution and, crucially, the long term strategy, goals and outcomes driving your organisation.
How do you find people to provide these skills?
With such a wide range of specialisms, areas and roles to consider, it may feel overwhelming or unachievable to consider adding all of them to your digital team. However, it isn’t always necessary to consider a specific role for each of these skillsets. They can be combined – with many lending themselves to neat pairings – such as graphic and UX design, content, or Digital Marketing and Data Expertise.
Training is key and staff with certain skillsets may be well suited to additional responsibility with the right guidance.
More importantly – you should consider the size of your organisation, your audience and your objectives to best decide which of these skills will suit your needs and bring something valuable to your digital team. By starting with leadership, and a strategic oversight to define success you will be better placed to do this.
And when it comes to recruiting these skills, remember that adding a new member to your team every time a new skill is called for is not the only option. In some cases it may not even be the best option and the topic of whether to balance and complement your in-house digital team with agency experience will be covered in the next article.