The evolution of technology leads to new opportunities and challenges for organizations, along with new products that integrate IT and marketing solutions. Kevin Kelly, the Darwin of technological evolution if you will, explains that technology is “allowing us to continually reinvent ourselves.”

For organizations, this reinvention, or evolution, includes new approaches to brand management, data collection and management, consumer messaging, and more. Today’s rapidly evolving digital ecosystem is forcing change, or adaptation, within organizations, particularly within marketing and IT departments.

Within this new ecosystem, what possibilities lie before your organization today? Organizations have the opportunity to survey the possibilities and to make hard choices based on how they want to exist and operate in the future.

Today’s blog post will examine a key organizational challenge—the lack of Big Data skills and tools—and the possibility to increase your organization’s agility through new technology and training.

Challenge | Lack of Big Data Skills and Tools

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reports that today’s marketers are managing approximately 11 types of diverse data from mobile Internet activity to economic and cultural characteristics to the ever-elusive “social behavior.” EIU reports that this large range of data sources “could be one of the reasons why data analysis to extract predictive findings from ‘Big Data’ is now seen as the most necessary skill for marketers.

Today, the intersection of marketing, technology, and data is forcing structural analysis and change within organizations. For example, organizations are asking, should marketing teams be divided by channels or should they be organized around product or specific goals (brand versus demand)? Where do technology and marketing overlap, and how can they be more effectively managed to improve ROI or other intended outcomes? The McKinsey Global Institute’s (MGI) article, “The do-or-die questions boards should ask about technology,” notes that a shortage of IT-literate talent is creating a productivity bottleneck in many organizations.

The challenge remains that the majority of organizations are currently lacking in appropriately trained marketers and IT personnel equipped with the right technological tools to do their job effectively and efficiently. In many cases, this challenge can become an opportunity with the investment in the right technology for the organization’s Big Data needs in addition to the training of marketing and IT personnel.

Possibility | Increase Your Organization’s Agility with New Technology + Training

Organizations that want to stay on the leading edge of the digital landscape today must not be precautionary with new technology, but instead should be what Kelly calls “proactionary.” With this organizational mindset, when a new technology comes along, the organization engages with it and tries it out. According to Kelly, the organization works with the new technology to “constantly assess it not just once, but eternally.” Risk is prioritized. Adaptation and flexibility are required. Organizations operating out of the “proactionary principle” will engage with new technology and reap its rewards.

In Change This, futurist and digital analyst Brian Solis points out the alternative: organizational obsolescence. Organizations that are able to adapt and meet the increasing demands of Big Data and perpetually connected customers are the organizations that will not experience obsolescence. It is through the seizing of such opportunities that organizations can remain agile, responsively flexing to meet the needs of their customer base and expanding into new growth opportunities.

The McKinsey Global Institute notes that leading organizations are continually using IT to improve both strategic and operational organizational agility by embracing new technology. Although an initial investment in new technology and the attendant training of IT, marketing, and other key personnel is high, it will pay off in the long run. “Technology can improve business performance by driving revenues (for example, by using big data for cross-selling in digital channels), reducing overall costs (for instance, by automating end-to-end processes), and lowering risk costs (for example, in insurance, by using social-media data to aid risk calculations).”

In addition to investing in the appropriate technology to manage Big Data, leading organizations are investing in their employees’ knowledge and skills base. Examples of organizational responses include putting top managers through IT boot camps, creating new technology forums, and creating a Marketing Technology Office and/or realigning those teams.

Evolve or Experience Extinction

Organizations desiring to avoid extinction in today’s digital landscape must be willing to take risk, to invest in the high tech tools and training that Big Data requires, and to constantly be willing to evolve along with the world and its gadgets.

For more information, see the first article in my series on audience management solutions, or data management platforms (DMPs).

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