A new study of marketing leaders has revealed data literacy is one of the key technical skills and knowledge gaps that exist within their teams.

Michael Page Australia partnered with marketing and digital advisory Arktic Fox to produce Marketing State of Play 2021: An Australian Study, exploring the core challenges for marketers, how marketing teams are driving performance and efficiency, prominent skills and capability gaps, marketing budgets and the MarTech challenge.

It found 46% of surveyed marketing leaders indicated data & analytics as one of their top three skills gaps, closely followed by nearly four in 10 highlighting measuring performance and outcomes, which also relates to data. CX designed rounded out the top three.

The study noted that with one of the biggest systemic shifts currently underway in the industry, it’s important for marketing teams to build new capabilities and skills, in order to tackle the next challenges they face.

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Unfortunately, teams were not often afforded the time it takes to upskill and build out these capabilities. Therefore, many marketing teams were finding themselves in situations where they had to deliver outcomes at the same time as attempting to build capability, it said.

Arktic Fox Founder and Director Teresa Sperti said this latest research suggested that marketing departments must begin to address the data skills gap within their teams, or may find themselves becoming increasingly irrelevant within the organisation.

“Data and reporting have to extend beyond the role of an analyst or an analytics team and be the way that we do business as marketing teams,” Sperti explained.

“This is not to say specialists aren’t required, but data literacy needs to be built more broadly if marketers are able to demonstrate their commercial ability and better influence business outcomes and decisions.”

She added that it came as little surprise, based on the skills gaps, that data & analytics was one of the key area marketers perceived as most important to build capability yet struggled to do so.

As part of the study’s launch, a webinar was held to highlight seven key findings and allow for a Q&A discussion with participants.

When asked about what role marketing platforms played in improving the data challenge, Sperti advised: “One of the key issues marketing teams are grappling with is dealing with disparate sources. But I’d say that once you have that aggregate set of data, you’re still potentially going to face a myriad of challenges because if you and your team don’t know what to do with that data due to lack of data literacy, then you are back to where you started. Unfortunately there’s no silver bullet.”

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Michael Page Director Leela Lewis said the research uncovered many other core skills gaps for marketing teams, which were impacting their ability to lean into the challenges at hand.

“Data literacy is where the gap is significant and is severely hampering marketing’s endeavours to become a growth engine for the business and to have a bigger seat at the table,” Lewis noted.

“This impacts a team’s ability to demonstrate the value of marketing, drive effectiveness and secure funding for future investment – all of which are vital in this era of marketing.”

The study was based on a survey of 233 marketing and digital leaders, operating across a broad number of sectors across Australia, conducted from 2 January to 5 March 2021.

To access the full Marketing State of Play 2021: An Australian Study, click the image below.

Australia Marketing Outlook

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