The results of the Talent Revolution Survey indicate that the marketing industry has some room for improvement when it comes to digital skills. What do individual organisations need to do in tackling the task of upskilling their staff? The Knowledge Engineers Founder Niall McKinney offers easy-to-implement advice on using The Talent Revolution Survey results to drive next steps in learning.

October 2015

With companies now able to view their results from the Talent Revolution Survey and compare their competence against the rest of the industry, it's a perfect time to talk about how agencies and brands can fashion learning and development programmes to help bridge digital knowledge gaps.

To begin, look at the survey results, compare your capabilities against your peers and ask a key question. Where is our biggest gap? Where are the biggest problems? We should start our thinking there. With a handful of these big issues in mind, then go a step further: Where to we have gaps that cost us money? You might consult the business and discover the biggest gap is one thing (search engine marketing, for example) but that the most business-critical gap is something else (for instance mobile).

Not every company needs to be expert in everything. You need to understand what is the most important gap, and why you should spend time and money on it. If you try to solve all your digital gaps at the same time, you're probably not going to be very successful. So focus — focus on a small number of things at a time, demonstrate their value and then move on.

In light of the survey results, many companies may be asking what learning and development programmes need to do in order to improve their scorecards. Several factors contribute to digital training success. First, a programme should be relevant. Customising content to include internal best practices and processes ensures that it's applicable and usable by the staff. For any organisation of scale, you have your own way of doing things, your own language, your own business model. If you use off-the-shelf training, it doesn't pay respect to those differences and it won't be relevant to your staff, so it's much less likely to be actionable and engaging.

Secondly, it's hugely important that learning programmes are actionable if you want to produce tangible effects. When you offer content that's tied to the specific challenges and opportunities of the business, the chance for it to be put into action is maximised.

Another big, key issue is scaling. There's not always enough budget to cover all costs in an organisation, so you've got to find a smart way to be scalable. That could be train-the-trainer, e-learning or bringing in partners like Google to help. You've got to be entrepreneurial about finding ways to reach every part of the organisation.

Finally, successful programmes incorporate measurement as a fundamental requirement. If you're convincing your C suite to invest an amount of money on training, then you have to be able to demonstrate value. But if you've got a programme in place that's relevant, actionable and scalable, then your measurement is sure to produce positive outcomes.