New report shows nine in ten UK and US marketing directors outsourcing expertise to stay competitive on brand experience tech
With demand for virtual events rising, a new report reveals more than half of marketing directors are facing a technical skills shortage, leaving their organizations unable to deliver remote or hybrid experiences.
Tracking Trends and Predicting the Future of the Experiential Market, by global events and experiences agency, FIRST, shows that with 55 percent of marketing directors across the UK and US saying a shortage of technical skills in recruits is one of their top challenges, some 90 per cent are now gearing up to outsource crucial expertise in a race to achieve the competitive advantages tech offers.
With even face-to-face sessions relying on high-resolution displays, data capture and management software, marketeers’ growing reliance on digital to deliver the best brand experiences has led to staffing problems and the need to invest heavily in new tech. Data shows more than a third (39%) of marketing directors are prioritizing this investment to help deliver virtual events.
The research, thought to be the most complete audit of top-level marketing experts since Coronavirus emerged, also found that many organizations are bringing crucial digital skills in-house. More than a third (41%) are planning to boost their brand experiences offer by recruiting IT specialists – meaning those without technical expertise could face a bidding war as recruits become more in-demand.
The report features insight from US and UK marketing directors from 500 world-leading companies to help decision-makers hone their strategies to be fit for purpose in a new era for the sector.
With the pandemic changing the nature of the events industry, the report found that four in ten (42%) respondents have already made the switch from online only and in-person only events to hybrid ones in the last year. Yet when quizzed about the biggest problems facing the sector, 14% cited lack of access to the right IT, meaning many organizations may struggle to compete in delivering meaningful experiences for event attendees.
While 41 percent of directors are considering hiring digital specialists, 90 percent will outsource some or all their brand experience function - either by retaining an agency or expert freelancers or by establishing an embedded agency-within model. Indeed, three quarters (78%) have already farmed out more of their experiential portfolio over the last year, with over a third (37%) planning to make staff members redundant.
To bring in these skills, an overwhelming 90 percent plan to outsource some or all of their brand experience function to an agency or freelancers or use an embedded agency-within model.
Megan Henshall, Google Global Events Account Manager and a client of FIRST, identifies digital as a key investment drive for the organization as it looks to outsource its skills pool. She said: “We used to focus on in-person experiences, but all that changed in March 2020, when we had to set our entire annual strategy on fire. We built a digital team almost overnight.”
Traditionally self-reliant, the Global Events Team is now working with sources outside the organization to secure the skills needed post pandemic, moving to an agency-within model for the first time recently.
Megan added: “We’re all the better for reaching out for more collaboration externally. Across the board, we no longer work in silos and with capabilities now integrated, there is community and connection, which are vital for any events operation. People can readily swap ideas and knowledge and call upon the support of others in managing the new market realities shaped by Covid.”
Tracking Trends and Predicting the Future of the Experiential Market also found that many of the world’s leading marketeers are keen to update their data collection processes as they navigate the transition from in-person experiences to data-rich online ones. One in three (35%) flagged up data and analytics as a top priority, with lack of data collection and analysis capabilities at online events the biggest blocker for 11% during the pandemic.
Jennifer Kauf, Senior Vice President Creative Strategy &Brand Marketing at FIRST, said: “Our report shows that the events industry is becoming ever more complex and competitive. Integration and delivery of content across every viable platform is key, but with so many channels available, the challenge is knowing how your end-user likes to receive it and when they like to.
“There is no one size fits all solution, which is why the growing tendency among those who oversee the brand experience function to enlist outsourced expertise is no surprise. A partnership relationship with a seasoned provider that has built its name on staying ahead of the trends is an increasingly attractive prospect, whether this involves establishing a scalable embedded agency-within or simply benefiting from outside consulting.”
To find out more about how marketers are making plans for 2022, including the importance of embedded teams and why content is king, download the FIRST report here.