We're living in a truly transformative era. Technologies have given rise to new business models and new ways of forming economic value. According to Google's MD for the UK and Ireland Eileen Naughton, this means new sets of skills are required in the workplace. Here she outlines the context of the Talent Revolution survey and reveals how Google can help individuals and businesses augment their skills and take advantage of the digital opportunity.

October 2015

At Google in the UK, we work with hundreds of thousands of businesses and agencies. Time and again we see those that truly embrace digital and are effective in using digital skills have a strong online presence. Data suggests that they outperform their peer set considerably in reaching consumers, they grow twice as fast, they create more jobs and have a greater economic impact. We also see that they find markets well beyond their local, regional and even national borders.

According to the IAB, digital ad spend reached £7.2 billion in the UK last year – an eightfold increase in the past 10 years. By next year, 50% of advertising spend in the UK will be digital. The UK is Google’s second largest market, and marketing is a massively important business here. Deloitte worked with the Advertising Association and established that for every £1 spent on advertising, there was a £6 economic impact in the UK. That suggests that this year alone about £50 billion worth of economic value will be provided by digital marketing.

As marketers, it’s fair to ask: ‘Are we ready for this?’ According to the Talent Revolution survey, many, many businesses are not. This is true not only in adjusting to increasing mobile and video consumption, but also when it comes to using data to attribute value across channels or drive automated decisions.

Now the good news is that despite all this automation, human skills such as judgement, creativity and storytelling are absolutely vital to great advertising campaigns. Understanding people’s motivations, discerning consumer insights, creating compelling messages and delivering them across channels at appropriate intervals at the right frequency – these are fundamental components of successful marketing techniques.

Human skills are necessary to implement and optimise these campaigns, because – in practice – all data-driven marketing functions require human instruction. It requires human judgement to structure data, define targeting parameters and set budgets. It requires not only analytical skills, but also nuanced judgement to interpret results and reset data parameters. And it requires a deft understanding of consumers to turn insights into action.

At Google we believe it is our role to help marketers build these competencies. Because the small business community is such a big part of economic growth in this country, we’re very, very committed to training 1 million individuals around the EU by the end of 2016. We’ve opened up two Digital Garages – one in Leeds, the other in Birmingham – and will open three more in the UK. For agencies and marketing organisations, we have the Google Digital Academy, where our Squared programme trains 5,000 people per year.

We know that increased levels of digital skills are good for individuals, they’re good for businesses and they’re good for economies. They create and stimulate growth, and in turn that’s good for everyone. So we hope that this Talent Revolution study is a starting point for organisations. We’re here to support you, help interpret the results and share what we do at Google to keep our talent sharp and ready.