will digital teams continue to exist?

My recent posts have sparked some real world discussions around two questions:

  • If everyone in the future is ‘just doing digital’ what will digital teams be doing?
  • And, as best posed by Alison Daniels, “the nirvana where everyone is ‘just doing digital’ may come, but what’s the ideal transition digital team?”

I’m going to explore the first question here and dedicate a separate post to the other one (watch this space!).

The easiest way to explore this question is with a definition of what everyone in an organisation ‘just doing digital’ could look like, and identifying some of the questions this creates.

Everyone is ‘just’:

  • creating web content – they’re writing web pages, creating short videos, and posting pictures.
  • using social media – through networks like facebook they’re servicing and attracting customers / supporters, through networks like linkedIn they’re making business connections, and they’re using all types of social media to co-create strategies and products.
  • building websites – they’re using drag and drop online tools to create simple web pages that ‘do stuff’.
  • doing digital marketing – they’re creating (or commissioning) search, affiliate and display advertising campaigns.

So here are the questions:

  • How do you manage the quantity Vs quality balance?
  • How do you prioritise for the greater good rather than individual interests?
  • How do you avoid duplication and cannibalisation where it matters?
  • How do you avoid fragmentation and make integration happen?
  • What if existing off-the-shelf tools don’t do what you need them to do?
  • How do you stop your digital activity looking identikit if you’re ‘just doing’ what everyone is ‘just doing’?
  • How do you keep on top of the next new thing if you’re busy doing the day job?

I see the role of future (and perhaps existing) digital teams is to answer these questions. In fact, stepping back, these questions are not too different from those that marketing teams have worked with for a while. So a logical conclusion might be that digital teams will become the marketing teams of the future.

And so we see the rise of creative marketing technologists – this presentation summarises it nicely.


So what do you think? Are you a future creative marketing technologist?

5 thoughts on “will digital teams continue to exist?

  1. Reposting a comment from a linkedin group…
    Rob Mansfield: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/robmansfield

    In the short term, yes. In the long term, I think it depends on the canniness and ingenuity of the HoDs.

    I always think there’s a place for specialists and, as the importance of digital is only increasing, all organisations need people to help them.

    Where the canny element comes in is, if Digital teams, can continue to make themselves relevant and offer value for money. Marketing and probably content will soon become a combined function as more younger, multi-skilled workers enter the market.

    Companies will still need the experts to steer the digital strategy, though, with, you’d have hoped, at least a small team.

    Anyone else?

  2. And another from linkedin…

    Katie Smith: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/katie-smith/4/a69/9b8

    Good post!

    This is a big question that I have pondered too! I think if the question is “will there be digital teams in the future who manage/look after/advise on everything that is digital related”, then the answer has to be no. The remit is just too broad.

    I do think there will always be a need for a team to manage the development of an organisation’s online presence – someone has to champion the user after all. Whether that is the same person who manages the online service on a day to day basis, I’m not sure!

    As for social media specialists, I may be being controversial here, but I suspect that as organisations become more socially literate, dedicated social media teams will go the way of the typing pool.

    I think for the short to medium term at least, organisations will continue to need a specialist team who can advise, guide and inspire around new technology and the opportunities those create. Will there be a tipping point when digital just “is” and when everyone who needs to “gets it”? Who knows – I’m rubbish at predictions.

    Ultimately, the challenge for organisations is to operationalise digital into the fabric of their business, and only then will the appropriate structures and resources become apparent. I suspect that many organisations are, in practise, still treating digital as an add-on, which means that structures will remain quite fluid for some time to come yet!

  3. I think there will always be a need for people who create, edit and look after content (text, pictures, video, audio). There is a need for people who ensure quality rules over quantity. Our organisation let almost everyone publish stuff on our website and we are now in the process of cleaning up the mess. Thousands of pages with obsolete or poorly written content. Random pictures, different visual styles… Poor quality and lack of editorial oversight affect usability!

    Like Katie I think distinct social media roles will disappear as more people within an organisation start to use social media as part of their day to day jobs (to some extent replacing email communication). The press officer and marketer roles will probably take on some of the responsibilities of the social media expert.

  4. Thanks Virpi. In my occasional day dreaming I swing both ways with my views on the continued need for quality control. Its a long way off if it does actually happen but my day dreams lead me to wonder – if the general population and technology continues to develop their own filters will a brand need to do that much?

  5. Pingback: the future of digital jobs | laila takeh thoughts on my everyday

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