As a consultant, I interact with people of varied levels of seniority across many roles. I frequently question whether any of the problems I encounter can be remedied with a solution that lives outside of my skill-set.
While the challenges of the companies I speak with differ, I recently have identified one commonality. What I have come to realize is that the unintended consequence of growth in ad-tech is a workforce deeply in need of training. Here are some indicators your company may want to invest in T&D:
1. Temporary In-House Specialists have become more frequent.
While I did not personally experience the transition into digital advertising, I did experience mobile in its early days. In 2010, the term “mobile” elicited much of the same feelings the terms “data” and “programmatic” have in 2016. The reaction to the mobile industry was a mass hiring of “mobile specialists.” These specialists were placed within agencies and publishers alike and asked to guide the buying and selling decisions through a mobile lens.
Many mobile specialists still have jobs. Many more have moved on to “omni-channel” or purely “digital” roles. Programmatic and Data “specialists” are the new flavor of this. While the responsibilities are different, in essence their function is the same: guide the company, be the knowledge source and put yourself out of a job. These specialists cannot single-handedly train entire workforces. The simple fact that they exist means that there is a need for T&D in their particular area of expertise.
2. Many Millennials already learn on their own time.
In my research, I’ve encountered that the largest T&D investments are made in sectors where the businesses are relatively high touch: banking, finance & healthcare–to name a few. The thought behind investments in T&D in those sectors is simple: spend money to ensure that everyone is clear about how they should be doing their job. The bulk of ad-tech companies are startups and within startups, a budget for T&D is typically non-existent. This is a huge oversight, as Millennials (who make up the bulk of the workforce) are amongst the largest consumers in the online education market. The addition of a Udemy, Skillshare or Lynda account, combined with paid training from industry experts, is something that would be warmly received by many employees in the advertising industry.
3. Employees leave when they feel they aren’t learning.
The most common complaint amongst those looking to leave their jobs is that they simply aren’t learning. In advertising this is especially true. For those at companies where new technologies are being introduced to only a handful of people, it is very easy to feel as though you are being left behind. It is for this reason that I always encourage my clients to train the entire company rather than just select teams. When employees learn a skill or technology together, the shared experience helps them create a bond. It is a positive thing to ensure that everyone is aware of what is being utilized inside of other departments. This is especially true of small and mid-sized advertising companies.
4. Research shows ad-tech will continue to move at the speed of light.
Ad-tech may slow. Ad-Tech will also, without a doubt, continue to consolidate. However, when old things fade, new things will come to light. New specialists will emerge and conferences will obsess over the next shiny theme. The point is, ad tech will continue to move at the speed of light. We will at no point in the future revert back to time-consuming paper shuffling. As we move forward, we need to ensure as an industry, that all of our employees are learning and developing. As it has been the case during my time in mobile and programmatic, I am hoping that one day I can again put myself out of a job–this time, as a digital consultant.
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.