As you might expect, Executives have the most varied backgrounds of all the respondents in the 2019 Digital Skills Survey, with marketing/sales, customer support, and development all figuring prominently.
What is surprising, though, is how few Executives have started their career in design. This may have more to do with the fact that other disciplines, like marketing, for example, involve much more inter-team collaboration, which fosters leadership and understanding.
If this is true, we should expect the number of Executives from data and product management backgrounds to increase over the years, as both disciplines require communicating and working with departments across organizations. As of now, though, few Executives started out in data or product management, but this is to be expected given the relative newness of those fields.
The BrainStation blog has written about digital transformation efforts in the past, and for good reason: 74 percent of Executives said their organization was actively involved in digital transformation activities, and 63 percent said that their digital investments are growing. These investments have had an impact it seems, as 89 percent claim there are elements of their products and services that did not exist five years earlier.
Unlike other disciplines in the Digital Skills Survey, Executives favored Microsoft Project for project management, although this only narrowly beat out Jira and Trello, which were repeatedly cited as the two most popular platforms.
When it came to what types of digital marketing their organizations invested in, Executives demonstrated a real variety, with investments spread across the many channels available to today’s Marketers.
Search engine optimization, content marketing, email marketing, and organic social media came out on top, which is very similar to responses from Marketers. This also aligns with what marketing respondents believed would be the focus areas for 2019: content strategy, social media strategy, and brand strategy.
Data professionals had cited optimization of existing platforms and products as their primary use of data, and this differs slightly from executive respondents, who said their organizations' main use of data was for the development of new ideas, products, and services. It should be noted that "optimization of existing platforms, products, and services" came in second in the Executive group, at 61 percent.
Still, that this slight difference exists may say something about the development of the data field, and how organizations are trying to understand how to best leverage data.
Surprisingly, Executives were almost evenly split on the need for e-commerce, as 52 percent said they were looking to invest or currently investing in an online sales platform.
Executives clearly see the need for ongoing professional development. Respondents said that their teams had participated in workshops, seminars, and conferences (78 percent), online courses (71 percent), and in-person courses (65 percent).
To stay on top of industry trends, 59 percent of Executives also claimed to frequent seminars and conferences themselves, with 55 percent citing digital skills training. This last stat is interesting when compared to the 74 percent of organizations undergoing digital transformation, as it may highlight the ongoing skills gap facing many industries.
When it comes to hiring, Executives are focusing on development. 50 percent, in fact, said they'll be doing the most hiring in in that field, while all other areas hovered around 30 to 35 percent.
Interestingly, respondents also found development the most difficult field to hire for, with data coming in a close second. Marketing is the easiest to hire for, according to our executive respondents, which is probably not surprising, when compared to more specialized fields.
Artificial intelligence is a focus for Executives, as 54 percent indicated that their organization intended to invest in it in 2019.
And as it turns out, 49 percent of respondents claimed their organization had already invested in artificial intelligence, with machine learning (46 percent), and e-commerce (45 percent), coming in second and third, respectively.