Investing in our future - the evolution of digital
Evolution of the industry
With over 15 years’ industry experience, the last 10 at Major Players, I have seen the explosion of the digital industry first hand. From the days of techies creating CD-Roms to the complex mass market appeal that we see now. I have seen the maturing of the digital agency, growing, shrinking and evolving into a more complex definition.
One of the most interesting points to come from the Digital roundtable was that the industry is still quite fragmented – but how all these different types of digital professionals and agencies hold the common goal of continuing to challenge and push digital boundaries, while at the same time becoming more inclusive with the rest of the creative industry.
Consumer demands on the digital world are changing on an almost daily basis and this rapid evolution continues to create problematic skill gaps throughout the industry. Successful agencies are recognising the need to go beyond their usual talent pool to morph and grow into new areas. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly common for digital teams to specifically recruit creatives with different expertise.
It’s a common preconception that digital has always been a technology-led industry but each year we are seeing more and more non-digital people crossing over from more traditional agencies, especially at the more senior level. Digital agencies are now about big ideas, branding, business consultancy, invention, data – the list encompasses every aspect of interaction and communication.
As they continue to grow and develop skill gaps will continue to be an issue. There are three ways to plug these gaps:
- expand your resource pool by looking for those people with cross-over skills
- invest in your current team through training and development programmes and offer training and time to new employees
- And, crucially, always continue to invest in new fresh talent
Major Players has a history of investing time in new talent and continually pushing for the industry to empower the next generation.
We know the talent is out there but, as an industry, we should better prepare young creatives who have grown up on Facebook and Twitter for the step into the world of work so the transition is smoother and more accessible. The great will always find their way but we feel too many people with potential are lost from the industry.
So as well as investing in the industry’s future leaders, the industry should be grabbing the opportunity to harness talent who have grown up in a social world. The fact is these graduates are equipped with the digital skills many agencies find essential – and the problem is many of them don’t know how to implement what they do in normal life into a commercial environment.
The simple answer is for agencies and recruiters to work closer with the colleges to help better prepare students for a real working environment. Already many companies have some great graduate programmes developed for attracting the best new talent but there is always more to do. Again, many colleges are fantastic at preparing their students but some are rolling out graduates ill-equipped to find work. We also find that some colleges still struggle to integrate digital thinking into their general course structure – the continued development of close-working relationships between colleges and agencies is essential to us.
Major Players believes that recruitment agencies like us are in a great position to help bridge this gap and smooth the transition, as we know what skills agencies demand and colleges produce.
This development should continue right from entry-level positions and the industry should work together to instigate more ambitious and experimental training. Google recently launched a job swap of its graduates with a number of big agencies, including Mindshare. Known as Google Square, this kind of programme is exactly what agencies should be doing to create more well-rounded talent.
In summary, the round table discussion re-enforced my appreciation of how expansive and specialised the digital industry has become. It emphasised my belief that digital people at all levels, from graduates to seniors, need to invest in themselves as their career progresses, evaluating the digital world they work in and knowing where they fit into it.
It’s easy to become comfortable and complacent – and the industry is no longer what it was even a couple of years ago. Your employer, your college or even to a lesser degree your recruitment consultant can advise you, but it is up to the individual and teams to push themselves forward – to research, to take an interest outside their work and to be the champion of their own career.
A good recruitment agent can help young digital talent recognise who and where they are, help them visualise their ambitions and how to achieve them – but it is individuals working within teams that will develop this talent first hand. And obviously it’s this talent that will continue to make the digital and creative industry as a whole so endlessly interesting in the future.
Head of Creative & Digital,
Giving something back: A design resource website created by one of our young candidates Sarah Hogan to encourage secondary school pupils to develop a passion for design and technology, briefed by The RSA. Co-credits to Hayden Wilcox and Lauren Mundle.
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