If there’s one constant in these fast-changing and turbulent times, it’s the ubiquity of digital.
Not only is it revolutionising entire companies and industries, it’s leading to profound shifts in the labour market too. Understanding the extent of this phenomenon and what it means for the future is key for growing your business and training your staff for success in this brave new world.
Back in 2017, a Randstad study conducted using a mountain of data from over 540,000 job ads posted for 239 roles revealed the growing demand for digital skills. Digitalisation is driving this demand in all areas, but is particularly strong in the service sector, with senior positions now requiring advanced digital skills for communicating, selling and administrating.
More recently, the OECD – Randstad report “Digital Skills – Unlocking Opportunities for All” used big data to analyse 417 million job ads posted online in 10 countries over the last ten years to get an idea of trends in digital occupations, identify the most in-demand skills and pinpoint the most effective routes for upskilling the workforce.
- Italy and Spain had the highest proportion of ads for digital occupations, at 12% of all job offers online.
- Next came the Netherlands, Singapore and the UK (11%), Germany (10%), Belgium (9%), the USA and France (7%), and Canada (6%).
- The strongest growth in demand was for software developers, coders, data scientists and engineers.
By analysing the requirements for a range of different jobs, the joint OECD-Randstad report showed how digital occupations need both technical skills and high-level cognitive abilities for interpreting data.
Their conclusions are shared by the European Commission and its Digital Skills & Jobs strategy:
“The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) shows that 4 out of 10 adults and every third person who works in Europe lack basic digital skills. There is also low representation of women in tech-related professions and studies, with only 1 in 6 ICT specialists and 1 in 3 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates being women.”
The jobs of the future…
Building on its research in partnership with the OECD, Randstad Research conducted a further study to identity the 100 digital occupations that are becoming established in the labour market.
The jobs that are disappearing because they can be automated digitally will only be offset by jobs that are emerging because of innovation if lots of these new positions are created.
Over the medium-to-long term, 10 are particularly promising because they are associated with disruptive innovations.
- Quantum computing programmer
- Wearables designer
- Remote operating system expert
- Integrated software and hardware systems designer
- Technology broker
- Cyber security specialist
- Automated logistics operator
- Secure blockchain manager
- Healthcare professional working both in-person and remotely
- Virtual interaction platform designer (marketing, training, leisure etc.)
Likewise, these professions should be a focus for anyone – entrepreneurs, managers, freelancers and professionals – who is in the business of adding value and wants to increase their competitiveness over the medium to long term.
… And the evolution of today’s communication professionals
So, what about communications professionals? What should we expect? In a word: lots!
Communication is one of the sectors most impacted by digital technology. This is because communication and related activities are intertwined with social and cultural change as much as they are technological change.
So what should we expect in the immediate future?
Below we take a closer look at three new professions that are rapidly gaining ground in the job market: marketing technologist, conversation designer and brand journalist.
1. Marketing technologist
For a decade or so now, there has been ever more talk of the need to combine communication, marketing and technology. But what on paper seems straightforward is complex in practice. In business, these three different areas are approached in different ways and by different people, meaning that the risk of miscommunication is always lurking around the corner: this is the main reason why customer relationship projects fail on digital channels.
The field of marketing technology seeks to address this problem: it focuses on the overlap between technology, customer engagement and marketing by taking a holistic view of the company. And the customer is always front and centre.
A while ago, Scott Brinker – VP Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot – started chiefmartech.com, a blog devoted to the theory and practice of marketing technology. It was here that he first published the Marketing Technology Landscape in 2011. Updated yearly, this infographic is an invaluable resource for marketers and communications professionals that maps the technological solutions available for marketing, from customer relationship management to content marketing, data and analytics, and eCommerce.
The number of tools (and vendors) has exploded over the years, as can be seen from the 2022 edition of the infographic here.
As the Marketing Technology Landscape is getting increasingly complex every year, Scott Brinker recently decided to launch a dynamic and interactive version, which enables the data to be organised and categorised based on different variables. It’s called the Supergraphic and is a useful tool for understanding who/what could help you to transform your digital business.
2. Conversation designer
Any successful conversation – including those between humans and chatbots – requires participants to unambiguously understand and coherently respond to interactions with one another.
A chatbot can understand messages thanks to natural language understanding (NLU) technology, which analyses and interprets natural language using machine-learning algorithms.
Conversation designers specialise in building conversational flows that are as natural, fluent and as seemingly human as possible. They train algorithms, feeding them sets of potential questions called user says, which the machine uses as examples to follow in providing appropriate responses.
They may also be tasked with:
- Managing a chatbot’s NLU component – i.e. creating inputs that the system will have to deal with, enabling it to understand what people are asking.
- Designing conversational flows – in other words, mapping questions, answers and information on topics that users might bring up in conversion with the chatbot.
“The Conversation Designer has to understand both the human and the artificial brain, and he has to use copywriting techniques to make sure that both brains understand each other.”
But what skills does this new job entail? A mixture of:
- Copywriting craft
- Psychological awareness
- Technical expertise
3. Brand journalist
In 2008, the founder of the Diesel fashion label, Renzo Rosso, gave an interview in which he said that: “brands will have to be managed increasingly like newspapers”. Never has a prophecy been truer :). And there is now a professional specialising in exactly that: the brand journalist.
Brand journalism involves a firm providing information on topics of its choosing for the target audience of its products or services.
Brand journalism uses journalism techniques to talk about a brand using informative content. Legend has it that this corporate communication strategy was conceived in 2004 by Larry Light, then Chief Marketing Officer at McDonald’s.
A good brand journalist is skilled at distilling information from different sources and using it to create a portfolio of content to help tell a brand’s story. This portfolio might include:
- Long and short form content (informative articles on specific topics)
- Landing pages (web pages created for a marketing campaign)
- Scripts for videos
- Advertising stories
- Posts on social media
- Marketing emails
- And much more
Content can be: brand news, aimed at increasing brand awareness by talking about the company’s products and services, people, history and activities; industry news, used to enhance a company’s reputation in the industry by highlighting its contribution and even that of other firms; or current news, designed to promote a brand as a news source on specific themes, regardless of whether they’re related to the brand’s business DNA, but which the brand is interested in (corporate social activism).
It’s no coincidence that, as Forbes reminds us, almost two decades ago Advertising Age argued that brand journalism as the most accurate and comprehensive definition of contemporary marketing.
Brand journalism forces corporate communication to switch from a dialogue (a 1-to-1 interaction) to a multilogue (a many-to-many interaction).
One of the most exciting aspects of this profession lies in watching and anticipating where innovation and technological change will take it next.
- As people and companies, will we be able to keep doing brand journalism and content marketing in the metaverse?
- How will augmented reality and virtual reality affect our ability to create content that’s trusted, relevant and authentic?
These are just two of the many questions that we could (and should) ask ourselves so that we’re ready for what’s coming.
An increasingly dynamic market
Today, we’ve looked at some interesting data points and exciting new jobs to try to imagine the future of work, especially jobs associated with business communication.
If there’s one thing that’s certain about the future, it’s that its unpredictable. But we can still get ourselves and our businesses ready for it. We can do this by giving proper consideration to technology and the ever greater role it will play in our lives, and by preparing ourselves and our firms for tomorrow’s world. Good luck!