Marketers race to upskill as AI, analytics and automation reshape the industry

Marketers race to upskill as AI, analytics and automation reshape the industry Duncan is an award-winning researcher, with 20 years experience of analysing the technology industry, specialising in cloud computing, edge computing, blockchain, cybersecurity and marketing technology.


There is an urgent need for marketers to upskill in AI, data analytics and automation to keep pace with the rapid implementation of new technologies.  

This is according to research from the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI), a digital marketing certification specialist.

Its recent study found that more than half (58%) of marketers say their roles are changing due to AI, with 44% already using advanced AI tools such as ChatGPT, Canva, Jasper and Midjourney.

DMI’s Insights Survey of DMI members globally, asked marketing professionals their thoughts on The Most Important Marketing Skills, Biggest Challenges, & the Impact of AI. The survey reveals an urgent need for marketers to upskill to remain competitive. 

The findings indicate that the most in-demand skills marketers are looking to develop in 2024 are AI, marketing strategy, SEO and content creation.

The increasing importance of AI is further highlighted by a separate DMI poll which found four in five (85%) marketers who believe AI will enhance their work. According to a separate DMI members survey, the top cited benefits for integrating AI include automating routine tasks (68%), improving customer experience (46%), enhancing targeting and personalisation (45%), and enabling predictive analytics (39%).

Most see AI as an aid and support rather than an altogether replacement, with just 6% of marketers fearing AI could make their role redundant or believing it may take their job.

The rapid pace of technologies entering the marketing sphere is now forcing companies to take action, and to address emerging skills gaps within their marketing teams. DMI’s Corporate Digital Skills Gap & Training report – surveying Marketing, Sales, L&D, and HR leaders globally – found that from a corporate perspective, nearly half (49%) of companies say AI strategy development is their biggest skills gap, followed by digital and social skills, and data analytics at 45%.

While almost three in four (74%) companies said they have plans to address these skills gaps, over a quarter (26%) of leaders admit to struggling to take action and provide the necessary training to nurture the skills required due to budgets as well as time and workload pressures – the top barriers cited.

The struggles employers face in upskilling their marketing teams poses challenges for employee retention and productivity. In fact, more than half (55%) of decision-makers believe upskilling or re-skilling employees is the best way to address skills gaps, versus hiring new staff (24%) or outsourcing (15%). Corporates cited performance and productivity (45%), as well as higher employee satisfaction and retention (43%), as the top benefits to prioritising upskilling within their organisations.

In addition to embracing upskilling initiatives, companies are favouring industry certifications and practical credentials over traditional university degrees when hiring marketers. Almost all (91%) now look for professional or industry certifications when hiring or promoting and 70% admit to valuing exam-based industry certifications from training providers over free certificates.

Certifications are clearly a priority to employers looking for increasingly specialised skills. In fact, 75% admitted an industry certification from the Digital Marketing Institute would increase a candidate’s chances of being hired. 

CEO of Digital Marketing Institute, Ken Fitzpatrick, said: “AI, Data Analytics and Automation are fundamentally changing the marketing profession. As marketing becomes more technical and data-driven, we’re seeing companies favour certifications that demonstrate practical knowledge and skills over broader more generalised qualifications. Those who upskill continuously through professional certifications will have a clear competitive advantage.

We at DMI, offer a range of courses to support both marketers, and employers in tackling these skills gaps head on – before they widen. We most recently launched our first ever artificial intelligence (AI) in digital marketing course, following overwhelming demand from marketers.”

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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