As you might expect, Executives have the most varied backgrounds of all the respondents in the 2018 Digital Skills Survey, with marketing/sales, development, and customer support figuring prominently.
Like last year, it was surprising how few Executives 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 can lead to leadership roles.
If you've heard a lot about digital transformation over the years, there's a very good reason: 74 percent of Executives said their organization was actively involved in digital transformation activities, and a whopping 82 percent of Executives said that their digital investments were growing or stable.
As proof, consider that 80 percent of our executive respondents said that there are digital elements of their product or service that did not exist just five years ago.
Despite this, 92 percent said they still plan to increase their digital transformation activities in the future, which really highlights the rapid pace of change across industries.
When asked where they've currently invested, 50 percent said eCommerce, 43 percent said AI, and 35 percent said machine learning.
When asked what their organizations are investing in for 2020, 45 percent of Executives said AI, 40 percent said eCommerce, and 39 percent said machine learning.
Out of the seven channels listed, the most common types of digital marketing tactics that Executives reported investing in were SEO (57 percent), email marketing (56 percent), content marketing (55 percent) and organic social media (52 percent), which is in line with what our marketing respondents said.
And when it came to data usage, a slight discrepancy exists between our executive and data groups. Much like last year, data professionals cited optimization of existing platforms and products as their primary use of data, which differs from executive respondents, who said their organizations' main use of data was for the development of new ideas, products, and services.
That this difference has shown up two years in a row may say something about how organizations are still trying to understand how to best leverage data.
72 percent of Executives said that digital skills training would make them more successful in their role, with respondents citing data (35 percent) and marketing (26 percent) as the digital skills that would most help their professional development. Interestingly, only 7 percent felt design skills would help their career.
To underscore the importance they place on digital skills training, 42 percent said their organizations have already implemented digital skills training initiatives and 19 percent said they'd be implementing it in the future.
85 percent of Executives say that teams in their organization have participated in workshops, seminars, or conferences; 75 percent say teams have participated in webinars, and 65 percent say teams have participated in in-person courses.
When asked about the employee digital skills that would make the organization more successful, 35 percent cited data skills, 22 percent cited marketing skills, and 17 percent cited development skills. Again, design skills were ranked surprisingly low, with only 9 percent of execs citing it.
To stay on top of industry knowledge, Executives most frequently rely on seminars and conferences (63 percent) and digital skills training (48 percent). It's worth noting, however, that 32 percent said it's hard to find the time.
Executives said they'd be doing the most hiring in development and marketing next year (41 and 40 percent respectively).
However, much like last year, respondents found development the most difficult field to hire for, with data coming in second. 43 percent also said their hiring strategy was to look externally first. As investments in digital skills training increase over time, it will be interesting to see over time if this number decreases.