martijn bertisen quote web

Did you make a new year’s resolution? Or more pertinently, do you think your teams did? This is the time of year when employees will be reflecting on their roles and whether management can help them grow or whether they are better off heading elsewhere.

Go-getting staff, the kind you want to keep, will have resolved to further their career development and learn new skills. Businesses, meanwhile, need to invest in staff to develop the skills and talents that are going to bestow a competitive advantage.

A recent study by Boston Consulting Group, commissioned by Google, showed marketers do not feel their employers are devising the right kind of digital training strategies - and that was particularly noticeable in retail, where employers were scored lower than in any other sector in delivering ‘a very effective and impactful learning and development programme for digital marketing’.

The UK has the largest internet-based economy in the world - and a highly sophisticated retail sector - but both these achievements are under threat due to a large digital skills gap. According to charity Go ON UK, 12.6 million Brits lack basic digital skills.

There are many ways to help your workforce skill up, including courses accredited by trade bodies or developed by in-house trainers. Google is doing its part with advice and guidance via its Digital Garage training spaces and website, and we also offer digital marketing courses through Squared. But whichever path you choose, the aim should be to inspire confidence and empower people to work with digital tools and services.

Data-driven insights can help improve systems and processes. Now retailers are becoming multichannel operators they need to turn their attention to working on a seamless customer experience at all touchpoints. Companies will need digital problem-solvers, website experts, mobile specialists and project managers for marketing and e-commerce pilots.

Even the employment of better workplace technology for back office functions to allow, for instance, real time collaboration on documents, can improve workflow and allow useful insights and suggestions to flow much more quickly.

Innovative ideas can come from any part of a business - just imagine how many creative, valuable suggestions could flow from a digitally-educated workforce equipped with the tools to collaborate and quickly share ideas and information. Investing in training will be a win-win: employees will feel they are being equipped to survive in a fluid job market and businesses will benefit from their enhanced knowledge.

Martijn Bertisen is country sales director at Google UK