As the year begins to wind down and people start talking about what’s ahead in the future, one of the topics inevitably is what career paths lay ahead, and what skills will be most valued. One of the most powerful, understated skills of the future in marketing is the person who can generate insight from data.

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The ability to be a data storyteller, to be someone who has the knowledge and experience to interpret data, is a valuable skill today, but as we increase the quantity of marketing data, it will become nearly priceless. Data is currently overwhelming; in the future, without analysis and insight, it’ll become so unwieldy that it will be near useless. Far from being the provenance of a few key individuals like the Nate Silvers of the world, data storytelling will be an essential skill for nearly anyone in the marketing profession, at least at a basic level.

The core skills that make up data storytelling likely include:

  • Statistics: being able to process data correctly. As the importance of data grows, the tolerance for bias and error will continue to decline.
  • Programming: as data gets more complex, it eclipses standard desktop tools like Excel. Being able to think in terms of algorithms and write those algorithms will be valuable skills.
  • Writing: Once your analysis and interpretation of the data is complete, you need to be able to write a coherent story about it, transforming things like Pearson regressions and two-tailed P calculations into meaningful, clear, comprehensible language.
  • Presentation: telling the story to your stakeholders in a compelling way that inspires action.

If you can achieve competence in each of these four skills as a marketer, your opportunities will be limitless. What’s more, because these skills are traditionally kept separate (computing/analytical and creative/artistic), few people will ever think to pursue more than one as a career path.

Learn the data, gain insight from it, and tell the stories that need to be heard from it. That’s one of the paths to the future of marketing that can make you an incredibly valuable asset in high demand.


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