A lack of skilled professionals is looming as the biggest drag on the advancement on digital marketing, according to Adobe's head of its digital marketing business.
Brad Rencher told B&T that if he could fly a plane load of digital marketers over to Australia he would, because there was a lack of people capable of using the technology available.
"The problem is you have to compete with the Telstras and the Commonwealth Banks of this world for talent," he said.
He said that this was not a problem with just Australia but a global issue where technology has outstripped the people capable of utilising it. Rencher said when he studied marketing at Kellogg University, he wanted more mathematics and science courses, but he said everyone else said "Brad I entered into marketing to avoid numbers".
According to Rencher, this is where the skill gap is arising. "You don't need to be data scientist to be a CMO, but you need to comfortable talking to one," he said.
When prompted, Rencher agreed that more and more data scientists were becoming CMOs.
Adobe has recognised this lack of talent as such an issue that it is now partnering with 10 universities across the states to ensure the curriculum in their marketing courses are turning out the right sort of graduates. Rencher said that the program had been such a success it could eventually be rolled out as far afield as Australia.
There was also work being done at the school level so that there was more maths, science, technology, engineering, art and maths in the curriculum.
The good news, however, is that CMOs who have this understanding of data and brand were now becoming CEOs, pointing to Audi USA's CEO Scott Keogh, who was formerly its CMO.
Other constraints facing the employment of great digital marketing are of a more practical nature.
John Bollen, chief digital officer of MGM Resorts, the largest operator of resorts in Las Vegas with annual revenue of $9 billion, told the Adobe Summit audience that when his resorts allowed mobile phone check in it resulted in the company needing to change 41,000 door handles. "Each door handle had to be fitted with an RFID and an antenna," he said.
Rencher said that such little pleasures for customers can be really hard for organisations to actually achieve.
To add some more perspective to just how fast the digital marketing space is growing consider this: in 2009 Adobe Summit saw 700 people attend, this year there were more than 7000.
With this raid uptake, the rate of disruption has been huge. And no where has the the disruption been more keenly felt than in the media and entertainment division.
Rencher said that media companies went through an identity crisis where they thought they were technology companies and that this had not worked well for them. "Content will always be king, and allowing a third party like Adobe work out the technology for you means that media companies can focus on their content and their data," he said.
Just as media owners were struggling, media agencies were finding it hard too. "Media agencies will need to do something different for brands, because brands will be bringing a lot of services currently offered by agencies in house.
"So brands will give the same money to media agencies, but they will want them to do something else," said Rencher.
The fact that digital marketing is important to agencies is evidenced in the sponsor list here at summit: WPP, Publicis Groupe and MRM/McCann.
The greatest risk, however, was for someone to do nothing. MGM's Bollen likened the current situation as having a presidential suite on every cruise liner in the world. "You don't want to spend too much time deciding which ship to get on and run the risk of missing them all. It doesn't matter which ship you get on, they're all going to be great."