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Changing World, Changing Role – The Rise of the Tech-Savvy Marketer (Part 1 – Junior Marketers)

5 Feb

By Rosa Colon, Marketing Technology Manager, Lowenstein Sandler LLP

Photo by Gabriel Santos Fotografia on Pexels.com

Introduction to Upcoming Two-Part Blog Series:
Those entering the marketing profession were taught that developing their talents in creative writing and data analysis would set them on a successful career path. But the savvy among us knows that adapting to the technological changes in how we apply those skills is critical in today’s world. Proficiency in design software along with managing social media accounts and developing strong SEO tactics are becoming the new norms in a marketer’s toolbox. Marketers today must engage in and demonstrate continuous learning.

This two-part series explores the technological know-how needed during the early stage of a junior marketer’s career and than will move into the more advanced skills essential for experienced marketers to grow their personal brand.

Part 1 – Junior Marketers

Life can turn on a dime. There’s been no greater example of this in our lifetime than the experience of this past year. Our lives have been in a seemingly endless spin. Not only have we been faced with an unimaginable health crisis but we also had to quickly pivot in every aspect—work and home. As 2020 progressed, it came as no surprise that technology had taken an even greater foothold across the board in our organizations.

For marketing technologists especially, the past year provided a unique opportunity for our roles within our firms. An opportunity to flex our MarTech muscles. Where previously we might have been mostly in the shadows implementing various tools and platforms; working across departments, managing service providers and integrations, losing sleep over delayed projects / potential blackouts / privacy concerns / advocating for centralized data warehouses with advanced visualization capabilities—the pandemic has placed a spotlight on us, the tools we manage, our roles and our distinct set of skills.

As we begin to emerge from the ashes of the dumpster fire of a year that 2020 was, it’s clearer now more than ever that the role of the marketing technologist is destined for its own dedicated seat at the leadership table and a necessary, integral part of our respective organizations and firms.

No doubt the world is changing at break-neck speeds which means that our roles as marketers and technologists are rapidly evolving, as well. Too often I hear stories of organizations focusing on a specific platform or tool solving all their respective “problems.” From my perspective, being a truly tech-savvy marketer does not rely on any one solution or technology but rather means consistently developing and building upon key fundamental skills and leveraging emerging technologies at each step to solve specific needs and anticipate future use cases.

With that being said, what skills should marketers (especially junior marketers) be nurturing today to ensure they are well prepared for this inevitable leadership role of marketing technologists? I think it’s important to go back to basics and consider the soft and hard skills needed to be agile and adaptable in these roles. Certainly not an exhaustive list however here are 5 fundamental skills every junior marketer and technophile should develop.

Interpersonal communication skills and emotional intelligence
Evaluating, implementing, and managing emerging technologies requires effective communication skills—written, non-verbal, and verbal. Day-to-day you are dealing with vendors, colleagues across departments and your clients. Efficiently providing solutions and tools to your organization means successfully exchanging information with other people. I added emotional intelligence as well because I think it’s incredibly important to understand your clients (in-house and externally) and challenges they face. Leading these conversations with empathy helps everyone and can also help you advocate and persuade, as needed.

Project management skills
Often overlooked, I think project management skills are another key foundational trait of the marketing technologist of tomorrow. Marketing projects can be complex with aggressive deadlines and limited budgets. They require meticulous planning, execution, and performance monitoring. Having a strong knowledge of project management techniques is essential to overall project success.

Strategic decision making skills
Marketing projects, in my personal opinion, should always consider an organization’s long-term strategic and business development goals. It’s extremely easy as a junior marketing technologist to focus on the issue at hand and neglect the bigger picture. Especially if you are not privy to conversations above your pay-grade, so-to-speak. Asking questions is a great and effective way to obtain clarity on projects. That allows you to discern the request and proceed with the best approach. 

Data analysis and manipulation
A marketing technologists’ world is full of data and gaining access to data is only getting easier albeit more difficult to wrangle. Learning and implementing methods of effectively collecting, organizing, and analyzing data is essential to the role. With extremely powerful data visualization tools becoming more and more popular, I fear junior marketers will also miss out on a key rite of passage—learning (and loving) programs like Microsoft Excel.

Development architecture, frameworks and UX design
Implementing a MarTech stack means working with service providers and across departments as stated earlier, most often IT. While it’s not necessary for marketing technologists to be formally trained in these areas, it is necessary to have a general understanding. These groups also have a language of their own. Educating yourself on the language and concepts for web and application development architecture, frameworks, and user experience (UX) design is key to ensuring your MarTech success.

“Luck is the residue of opportunity and design.” – Branch Rickey
I once read that a marketing technologist is a “part doer, and part conductor of an orchestra.” That resonated with me because the visual was so powerful. As a marketing technology manager, I do feel like I’m conducting an orchestral masterpiece!

As awful as this past year has been, I’m hopeful and I do think that marketing technologists have been provided a lucky hand. If we’re intentional and purposeful in the skills we develop, the conversations we take part in, and the strategies we influence we can help elevate not only our organizations but our roles as well.

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Knowledge Management Round-Up for 2020: A Bright Spot in a Cruddy Year

8 Jan

Knowledge Management Round-Up for 2020: A Bright Spot in a Cruddy Year

By Gwyneth McAlpine, Director of Knowledge Management Services, Perkins Coie

2020 was rough, and we’re moving on.  But on the bright side, ILTA members created another treasure trove of useful content on knowledge management (KM) topics, the quality of which was particularly good this year.  In case you were distracted at some point in 2020 (and who wasn’t?) and missed some of this excellent material, I have cataloged it below. It can be hard to filter the many recordings and articles produced by ILTA each year to only KM topics.  I generally look for works produced by KM contributors for a KM audience, plus a sprinkling of topics that are interesting to me. 

The range of topics was a little narrower this year than in years past, which I think reflects some convergence in priorities and focus among KMers.  Perhaps also we have also operationalized some aspects of the discipline that we do not need as much peer sharing around those issues.  Or maybe we didn’t have a lot of mental bandwidth beyond our very highest priorities and trickiest business problems.  In any case, if you are looking to explore more about a subject that is not well represented this year, the round-ups from 201920182017 and 2016 will lead you to additional content.  Or search the ILTA archives, particularly for areas that are KM-adjacent.

Here are some themes that struck me as I built this catalog:

  • If 2020 has a winner, it’s podcasts. Easy to produce just the right amount at the right time, easy to take on a walk or fit in between Zoom meetings, they seem to be the perfect medium for learning and staying connected in 2020.  It’s like having a KM friend in your earbuds when you’re stuck at home. 
  • We love innovation. We cannot get enough of innovation. KMers are leading many of the innovation initiatives at their organizations, and it’s clear there is a desire to connect with like-minded colleagues to share ideas and practicalities beyond the hype.
  • 2020 was unusual in that we collectively experienced the same thing at the same time. You can see this general trend (with some exceptions, of course) if you look at the content in chronological order.  We started off the year with enthusiasm for new business problems that KM could solve, then had a sudden and urgent need to share how we were handling the pandemic response.  Things got quiet briefly as KMers were heads down in critical response roles for their firms.  As the workload began to even out, content picked up again with deeper insights into changes brought about by the pandemic, as well as a return to ongoing themes.  We hit another quiet period post-ILTA>On and as we suffered through the 6-month wall  We emerged reenergized, and the focus appears to be back to business-as-usual.

Logistical Notes:
Some of the content is only available to ILTA members, and ILTA>ON session recordings are only available to members who registered for the conference.  Be sure to log in to your ILTA account before clicking on links.  I’ve provided alternate links where the content was posted to additional platforms (e.g. Podbean and the ILTA KM blog).  With the increase in podcasts and micro-learning this year, which can vary widely in length, I included approximate duration in the description.

As in the past, I did not include titles or organizations for the contributors.  There are a lot of new names in the mix.  You can generally find biographical information at the link, or just dive in.  Take a chance that you will learn something new from someone new to you.

Adoption and Outreach:

Applications:

Artificial Intelligence:

Series: AI Meets KM:

Automation and Workflow:

Corporate and Client Collaboration:

Data Analytics:

Design Thinking:

Electronic Signatures:

Experience Management / Marketing Collaboration:

Information Governance / MS Teams:

Innovation:

Series: Global Legal Innovators:

KM Foundations:

Series: Foundations of KM:

Management / People:

Series: Emerging Roles in Legal:

Pandemic-Inspired:

Enjoy reading, viewing or listening to these contributions.  There are so many reasons to look forward to 2021, including another year of new content and peer sharing.  May 2021 treat you exceptionally well!

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