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5/1/2014
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Digital Business Skills: Most Wanted List

UX designers, data analysts in demand as IT and marketing departments become digital business buddies.

IT Jobs: Best Paying Titles Of 2014
IT Jobs: Best Paying Titles Of 2014
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Want to make your business more digital? Here's some good news -- and some bad news.

First, the good: According to a recent Forrester survey of 148 technology, marketing, and business decision makers, the goal of delivering more digital experiences to customers is becoming a shared duty across IT, marketing, line-of-business, and sales.

The benefits of collaboration are being seen in the division of responsibilities across groups, at least in theory. Forrester survey data from a report entitled "The State Of Digital Experience Delivery, 2014" shows that IT groups are gaining a voice as a key strategic business partner with a hand in areas such as overall digital strategy services (53%), UX development and design (57%), and data analytics (60%).

Despite the impression that marketing is hogging digital budgets, Forrester survey respondents reveal that on average, IT owns "35% of overall digital experience technology budgets," while marketing gets 32%, line-of-business gets 25%, and sales gets 8%.

Now the bad news: Even with a strong emphasis on collaboration plans, organizations are struggling to find people with the right skills to form teams and divvy up workloads.

Forrester's conclusion: The IT-marketing partnership for digital business growth is starting to gel, but it's not quite ready for prime time.

[Want more on digital business strategies? Read Is Your Company A Digital Business, Or Just Look Like One?]

When asked about the biggest pain points when assigning roles for "digital experience projects," 60% of respondents listed dividing responsibilities and workloads between marketing, technology management, and the business as their top challenge. This alliance among groups, while straightforward on paper, grows more complex in practice as customers become more and more digital. A transaction is only the beginning. Companies must stay part of a customer's mobile and social ecosystems. This new way of engaging customers has altered how companies operate.

Even though tech management is getting a fair share of the digital business budget, "funding/budget" was still listed as a top challenge in the Forrester survey, with 52% of respondents saying there's just not enough budget to keep pace with digital business priorities.

Another important pain point: skills. A full 58% of those surveyed cited a shortage in workers with the appropriate skillsets. "User experience" (UX) and "big data" top the list of lacking skills. Of respondents, 44% picked UX designers/developers as the most difficult tech-centric role to hire, and 43% cited data experts/scientists as most difficult. These two skills stand out because responsibilities for them will sit within multiple groups, according to Forrester.

Only 3% of respondents reported no difficulty in hiring for "digital experience delivery" roles, and 25% say "lack of skills" is enough of a problem that it's a technical barrier to digital business success.

Forrester predicts the digital business push will force IT groups to shift focus off back-end systems like ERP and CRM and hire more skilled UX designers, app developers, and data analysts to help bring unity across departments. It's worth noting that "Web analytics tools" and "social analytics tools" were in the top five choices among respondents for software investments for 2014-2015.

Forrester analysts Anjali Yakkundi and Mark Grannan wrote in the report that UX design skills will remain hard to find, considering it's a complex skillset and many companies have just begun to bring UX competency in-house. "UX requires the right-brain and left-brain skills of coding and front-end development, in addition to design," the analysts said.

The role of data scientist, they added, will eventually fade as predictive analytics tools improve and more people become adept at data analytics. "Predictive technologies will soon be able to give similar benefits without having a lone PhD in statistics isolated on your digital teams."

Digital business strategies are a work in progress as tech and business leaders get comfortable reaching across the aisle. But for IT to maintain its strategic voice and fair share of the digital business budget, it will take talent.

Too many companies treat digital and mobile strategies as pet projects. Here are four ideas to shake up your company. Also in the Digital Disruption issue of InformationWeek: Six enduring truths about selecting enterprise software. (Free registration required.)

Shane O'Neill is Managing Editor for InformationWeek. Prior to joining InformationWeek, he served in various roles at CIO.com, most notably as assistant managing editor and senior writer covering Microsoft. He has also been an editor and writer at eWeek and TechTarget. ... View Full Bio

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Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
5/3/2014 | 11:21:33 PM
Re: Skills for the process, then for the technology
Exactly - the digital business demands a comprehensive and integrated e-commerce/O2O/B2C/B2B platform instead of product/solution in silo. So the knowledge about system integration and process is of importance. Nowadays e-business is not a value-adding part but something essential to succeed in the market.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
5/2/2014 | 3:49:03 PM
Re: Skills for the process, then for the technology
Digital business will increase the demand for deep development, software engineering, and architecture expertise.

And don't forget about systems integration. The experience of the customer and the details of their interactions must flow across the mobile, web, desktop, back office and any other spaces. The internally disjointed company with strict silos will fail in the digital business world.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
5/2/2014 | 10:33:28 AM
Re: Skills for the process, then for the technology
I hear a lot of CIOs pining for good, ol' hard-core software engineering skills. They're not tech companies, but they're trying to build software systems or software-driven customer experiences that don't exist off the shelf. Digital business will increase the demand for deep development, software engineering, and architecture expertise.
MichaelE735
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MichaelE735,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2014 | 9:23:55 AM
Skills for the process, then for the technology
From a customer engagement angle, the success to winning with a digital focus, is first having the skills to map the processes of customer journey, and then enable with the technology.

If there's been a heavy reliance upon agencies to map the journey/solution, it's possible for in-house marketing departments to cover-up their own lack of knowledge on mapping the ideal process, and no need to build experience on how to deliver an engagement and revenue generation plan.

Now that the capability and pricing structures of CX tools, including marketing automation, social monitoring & engagement and traditional CRM systems, are rapidly increasing the uptake by the end user companies, rather than agencies, the focus of skills needs to be process first. This will in turn make adoption of technologies far easier, as they are seen as enablers, with relevance, rather than hard to use tools, forcing mis-understood processes.
anon5694870661
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anon5694870661,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2014 | 1:07:52 AM
Marketing savior: Digital
Marketing department must be indebted to the unstoppable obsession around "digital strategy". Given that no business leader in an organization consider marketing to be of any value, the new digital toys are giving market a new lease of life to prove their existence and value to the organization. However, like most marketing folks, who are loud mouth and removed from reality, all this digital jazz will be of no use. Only those marketers who really understand and are willing to put their skin in the game and collaborate with different internal departments will succeed. Moreover, successful companies will create digital strategies as an extension of their customer focus. Whereas the laggards will keep cribbing about how their IT department is not helping them improve customer experience and will put that as the sole reason for the bad performance of a company.
Laurianne
IW Pick
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
5/1/2014 | 2:09:12 PM
Data analysis skills
Forrester's take on data analysis echoes what we heard from Weather Company CIO Bryson Koehler at the InformationWeek Conference. Not everyone must be a data scientist. Hire curious people who can learn data analysis skills.
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