Do Agencies Have the Right Digital Talent? Cannes Says Yes, New Study Says Not Yet

With a glass of champagne in hand on the eve of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the industry begins to celebrate its amazing creative talents along the Croisette. Yet, there is a bit of hangover already sinking in amongst executives coming in from all over the globe.

How do we translate this talent into amazing digital programs for our clients? It’s the slightly growing headache that has been accelerating toward a migraine each precipitous year.

With the latest release of the Online Marketing Institute’s Digital Talent Gap Agency Study noting that 93 percent of agency executives acknowledge major digital knowledge gaps and 78 percent of agency clients are concerned that their agency doesn’t have what it takes on the digital front, we all have some true introspective assessments to do. And decisions to make…now.

And it’s coming down to this. Sip the bloody mary of a cool YouTube video or mimosa of a great Facebook Page design to make you and your client feel a bit better, but at your own risk. The hangover just gets delayed and worse. Soon, you’ll have to bite the bullet and hydrate with good digital strategies, sweat it out with great digital talent, and get on the wagon by instituting digital education programs that are pervasive and sustain a continuous culture of learning and digital innovation.

Or, simply just call it a day and keep the traditional creative booze flowing and let the street corner (or Wall Street) be the judge.

For those ready to sweat, hydrate, and hop on the true digital knowledge building wagon, here are three big learnings I found from the Agency Digital Talent Gap Study that we all can apply before the hangover kicks in tomorrow. Download the executive summary here.

1) Assess Your Team’s Digital Skills.

It’s critical to get a baseline and understand how your team compares to both industry averages and down to the individual level. Then, you can focus in on problem areas and also have a tool to benchmark success thereafter. There are a few “self assessments” out there, but to get a true understanding for knowledge, you’ll have to test. Digital IQ would be an example of that.

2) Flip It Kahn Style.

Salaman Kahn, education pioneer, made famous the concept of “flipping the classroom” for substantially improved quality of education. And it works – universities use it, high schools are using it, and professional education (what we need for us agencies) is the perfect use case. Flipping the classroom means being able to watch the lecture video online, and on-demand on your own time. Being able to see the lecturer on the screen supplements the educational learning and gives opportunity for interactivity and Q&A. Here, the best of the best instructors can now teach everyone and the in-person trainers can be the facilitators. It scales, it improves quality, and it works. So think online or e-learning first.

3) Think Pilot First.

Think easy, digestible, not straining on budget or the organization’s, and time THEN think about building a global program. I’ve personally seen programs roll out to more than 10,000 where a three-month pilot and the tweaks, feedback, and simple learnings on how best to communicate to staff led to immeasurable gains on the engagement at initial global rollout and instilled a deep sense of confidence for the stakeholder to throw their full weight behind the program.

And of course, you’ll have to build consensus with HR, learning and development, and digital head(s) to agree that one program can provide a way for everyone to learn. This will set a precedent at all levels of its importance and not just be a one-off fight by one department to get engagement.

And yes, I’ll be on the Croisette this week with a glass of rosé in hand, as I too celebrate the breathtaking creativity our industry rightfully covets. So, come find me and let’s toast to the bright sunrise of brining creativity and digital together in a meaningful way. Or tweet, Facebook, LinkedIn with me if not in the South of France.

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