The IDM, the training organisation dedicated to the data-driven marketing industry, is aiming to close the skills gap in new technology by launching its first accredited programme for artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Delivered through a new partnership with the Southampton Data Science Academy, the AI & Machine Learning for Marketers course will be delivered online.
In the next two decades, it has been predicted that AI will accelerate and enhance the ways organisations harness data, spot trends more effectively, and shift towards predictive rather than historical data analysis.
However, IDM research has shown that the personnel and skills may not be in place to achieve this. The IDM’s Business Skills Census 2019 research asked marketers to identify the skills and challenges currently facing their organisations and their importance in the future. It revealed AI and ML are the most important area of expertise that organisations must develop staff skills in.
When the IDM asked marketers about their own abilities and the areas they need to develop to progress in their career – as part of the Professional Skills Census 2018 – they again highlighted AI and ML as key. This burgeoning set of skills had the biggest gap of all 33 skills analysed, with a 25% difference between perceived importance between marketers’ current roles and for future career progression.
IDM general manager Andy Dorling said: “The future of intelligent marketing will not just be dependent on investing in the latest technological advancements. It will require skilled marketing teams to interpret data, analyse trends, and integrate technology and AI software to develop a cohesive marketing strategy.
“In the same way that businesses have developed data strategies, many are now realising the need to have an AI strategy to develop a competitive advantage. Our new training will help organisations to use AI strategically, sustainably and ethically.”
The Southampton Data Science Academy, presented by the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton and led by Dame Wendy Hall, the UK’s AI skills champion and government advisor, believes the training will help prepare organisations to take advantage of the opportunities ahead.
Hall said: “The search is on for ways to restore public trust in technology and (re)establish it as a force for good. For this to happen, people need to have greater trust in how the data and marketing industry use data and this in turn will give us better data to feed into the AI algorithms we use. By providing industry professionals with the skills and ethical guidelines to use AI responsibly, this will help to increase trust.”
Course participants will learn the fundamentals of AI, the capabilities and limitations of the technologies and tools, ethical guidelines of its use, and how it can enhance their role and bring benefits to their company. The training combines the flexibility of self-paced online content with the support that comes from world-class tutoring and networking between participants.
Dorling added: “Getting AI right, by ensuring machines work ethically is everyone’s responsibility. Just as blue collar industries were transformed by industrialisation, AI will similarly change the world of work for white collar professions.”
The Chartered Institute of Marketing recently warned that older marketers are seemingly being left on the scrapheap – and in some cases willingly jumping on it – when it comes to gaining new skills, with a huge age divide when it comes to professional training.
The “Digital Vision, living on the cutting edge” report revealed that the over 55s had received no training at all in the two years prior to the pandemic, sparking concern that senior marketers may not be keeping up with the rapid pace of change in the sector.
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