Present, fu­ture and sci-fi

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• Com­mu­nity man­agers

Waste data man­agers Big data will only get big­ger, and this means busi­nesses will need some­one to sort the rub­bish from the valu­able nuggets.

Avatar de­sign­ers As we be­come em­bed­ded in the dig­i­tal world, we’ll want our avatars to be re­al­is­tic.

3D print­ing en­gi­neers The pro­lif­er­a­tion of 3D print­ing will cre­ate a need for spe­cial­ists who can ser­vice and main­tain th­ese de­vices. Smart con­tact lenses, ca­pa­ble of de­ter­min­ing the wearer’s bio­met­rics, are al­ready be­ing de­vel­oped, and this is only set to be­come more com­mon in the fu­ture. And be­yond 2030, the jobs only be­come stranger: The moa, the dodo and the quagga might have a fu­ture af­ter all.

Time bro­kers Time will be­come the cur­rency of the fu­ture.

Drone dis­patch­ers How is Ama­zon go­ing to en­sure cus­tomers get their goods with­out th­ese skilled tech­ni­cians? that sur­rounds var­i­ous dig­i­tal medi­ums, how peo­ple use them, when they use them and why they use them and what they use them with,” says Kate Humphries, a course leader at the Me­dia De­sign School (MDS). “This kind of drilling down into dig­i­tal be­hav­iour is far more im­por­tant to a cre­ative course like this than their ac­tual dig­i­tal skills.”

And to en­sure that this dig­i­tal-first style of think­ing is de­posited into the frontal lobes of the stu­dents, Humphries says that MDS has adapted its cour­ses.

“Dig­i­tal has had an im­pact on our pro­gramme for many years now,” she says. “So much so that how we now choose to cover it in the cur­ricu­lum is from ‘tra­di­tional’ dig­i­tal right through to non-com­puter based dig­i­tal and ‘fu­ture-dig­i­tal’.”

Em­ployer be­ware

The changes in the in­dus­try have been ac­com­pa­nied by the in­tro­duc­tion of new vo­cab­u­lary, as work­ers search for ways to com­mu­ni­cate what it is that they do.

“As with any evolv­ing in­dus­try, there are cer­tain terms and buzz­words that come into fash­ion and are used in abun­dance to mys­tify cer­tain as­pects,” says Howl.

And, ac­cord­ing to Law­ton, this char­la­tan trend can cost em­ploy­ers un­nec­es­sar­ily large sums of money: “What I see a lot of is com­pa­nies pay­ing up to $10,000 for a web­site, when all the designer or de­vel­oper has done is bought a $50 Word­Press site, re­skinned it, added some PHP plug-ins and charged an ex­tor­tion­ate amount for it.”

And speak­ing to other re­cruiters in the in­dus­try, it soon be­comes ev­i­dent that ex­am­ples like th­ese aren’t ex­cep­tions. Jac­qui Bar­ratt, direc­tor at Auck­land-based re­cruit­ment agency Font, says that she has also no­ticed a sim­i­lar trend of char­la­tans de­ceiv­ing prospec­tive em­ploy­ers. But rather posit­ing all the blame on job­seek­ers, she points out that em­ploy­ers are also cul­pa­ble to some de­gree.

“When any­thing is new it leaves a lot of room for peo­ple to cre­ate smoke and mir­rors and some would say it’s a case of the blind lead­ing the blind,” she says.

To avoid em­ploy­ing the wrong can­di­dates, em­ploy­ers need to ask spe­cific ques­tions dur­ing the in­ter­view to de­ter­mine if the job­seeker’s skillset matches the em­ploy­ment brief, says Bar­ratt.

“Don’t talk gen­er­al­i­ties, talk specifics,” she ad­vises. “And you can only do this if you un­der­stand what’s re­quired so in­volve the spe­cial­ists or the hir­ing manager in the in­ter­view process. Also seek ref­er­ences of the work com­pleted and get them to show you ex­am­ples of their work.”

The prob­lem, how­ever, is that the in­dus­try is chang­ing so quickly that it’s dif­fi­cult for em­ploy­ers to connect what they want with the skills avail­able in the job mar­ket. And as the dig­i­tal age con­tin­ues to change the job land­scape, it’s only be­com­ing more dif­fi­cult for em­ploy­ers to pin­point ex­actly what they want out of their em­ploy­ees.

“I read an ar­ti­cle the other week that said around 65 per­cent of the job ti­tles that will ex­ist in 2050 have yet to be cre­ated,” says Howl.

Although this is just spec­u­la­tion, it gives some sense of the chal­lenge that em­ploy­ers face in terms of find­ing the right peo­ple for their com­pa­nies.

“I be­lieve this pat­tern of char­la­tans has room to con­tinue un­less there are clearly de­fined pa­ram­e­ters and stan­dards that are put in place to sort the wheat from the chaff,” says Howl.

He sug­gests a sys­tem of stan­dard­i­s­a­tion akin to the bar exam used in the law in­dus­try. How­ever, when look­ing at how the law is strug­gling to keep up with the rapid speed of dig­i­tal devel­op­ment,

Font’s Jac­qui Bar­rat re­cently re­vealed some of the dig­i­tal spe­cial­ist roles that have emerged in re­cent years:

Greig Cran­field, a dig­i­tal spe­cial­ist re­cruiter at Razzbri, re­cently con­firmed to NZ Mar­ket­ing that he was start­ing Yu­doo, a sep­a­rate re­cruit­ment ser­vice that’s tar­geted specif­i­cally at free­lancers.

“It’s a plat­form for con­trac­tors or free­lancers to go onto and start up a pro­file, and it will them to up­date their avail­abil­ity and the skills they’ve been work­ing on re­cently,” he says. This is es­sen­tially based on a sim­i­lar premise to Free­ (or cre­ative crowd­sourc­ing agency Vic­tors & Spoils), but it will specif­i­cally tar­get the lo­cal mar­ket here in New Zealand, pro­vid­ing a link be­tween agen­cies and free­lancers and re­mov­ing the need for a re­cruit­ment con­sul­tant.

Given that re­cruit­ment agents’ fees can at times be quite high, this ap­proach pro­vides a faster, more af­ford­able means for em­ploy­ers to find free­lancers.

So could this also work for em­ploy­ers seek­ing full-time work­ers? Cran­field doesn’t be­lieve so. “The fees that go into per­ma­nent re­cruit­ment are still war­ranted. There’s a lot of time and in­vest­ment that goes into get­ting to know a client and then be­ing able to sit down with some­one and then map out their per­son­al­ity and strengths and whether they’ll get on with that client. When it comes to free­lance, there’s not so much a need for cul­ture fit, be­cause they’re just there for what might be two weeks. In free­lance, it’s about skill, avail­abil­ity and the hourly rate charged.” it seems that this in­dus­try also has its own range of chal­lenges for which so­lu­tions are yet to be found.

But per­haps this is also the strong­est ar­gu­ment for the con­tin­ued rel­e­vancy of re­cruit­ment agen­cies. Be­cause in the same way that Gum­bel and Couric had to ask an ‘on­line ex­pert’ what the in­ter­net was, to­day’s busi­ness own­ers in­creas­ingly rely on re­cruiters for in­for­ma­tion on the skills they need in their com­pa­nies. And this makes re­cruit­ment agen­cies, es­pe­cially those that spe­cialise in dig­i­tal skills, a valu­able tool in a busi­ness land­scape where things are chang­ing rapidly.

From an in­dus­try per­spec­tive, the re­cruit­ment in­dus­try is also start­ing to adapt with the dig­i­tal age.

bas­tions of TV, mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers are strug­gling to hold onto ad dol­lars as ad­ver­tis­ers shift their spend to dig­i­tal chan­nels, the out­door chan­nel is still en­joy­ing growth.

In mid Fe­bru­ary, the Out­door Me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand an­nounced a fourth quar­ter rev­enue to­tal of $20 mil­lion, show­ing a year on year in­crease of 5.5 per­cent over the same pe­riod in 2013. And this fig­ure brought the year-end to­tal rev­enue for 2014 to $71.2 mil­lion, which is 7.2 per­cent higher than the to­tal for 2013.

Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy is said to be driv­ing th­ese re­sults and build­ing rev­enue growth for out-of-home me­dia, how­ever, given that dig­i­tal OOH spend here is not cur­rently mea­sured and re­ported in­de­pen­dently of over­all OOH, ex­actly how much of the growth is at­trib­ut­able to dig­i­tal of­fer­ings is un­clear.

Mea­sure­ment has long been an is­sue for the OOH sec­tor, says Adam McGre­gor, gen­eral manager of the Out­door Me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand. He says that work has be­gun to de­velop an au­di­ence mea­sure­ment sys­tem across all for­mats— in­clud­ing dig­i­tal—but adds that “it’s very much the early stages of a work in progress.”

“While a va­ri­ety of DOOH for­mats have been in place in air­port and re­tail en­vi­ron­ments for some time, the emer­gence of dig­i­tal road­side bill­boards is rel­a­tively new and the mar­ket is still ad­just­ing,” he ex­plains.

In 2007, Magna Global val­ued the global DOOH mar­ket at over US$1 bil­lion says McGre­gor. “That had grown to US$3.7 bil­lion by 2014 with pre­dicted growth at over 20 per­cent per year to 2017. In the UK, dig­i­tal rep­re­sented 22 per­cent of all OOH rev­enue in 2013 and con­tin­ues to grow at an im­pres­sive rate.”

Not easy as

The ad­van­tages aren’t al­ways prac­it­ca­ble. For one, coun­cil re­stric­tions that are “a lit­tle tight on mo­tion” mean the DOOH bill­boards we’re see­ing are mainly static at the mo­ment, par­tic­u­larly next to traf­fic, but it’s early days, says Maas. “We just need to think within the bound­aries that are set for now. With time we are sure to see more an­i­ma­tion in line with what we see on screens over­seas.”

Bud­get lim­i­ta­tions also cre­ate lim­its as to what ad­ver­tis­ers can do. Irv­ing points out that “dig­i­tal is is be­com­ing multi-di­men­sional through iBea­cons, RFID, NFC and fa­cial recog­ni­tion [and that] touch-screens and tablets are al­low­ing mea­sured re­sponses, which help with jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of costs as well as al­low­ing calls to ac­tion.” But con­vinc­ing ad­ver­tis­ers to spend more than what they’re used to in a chan­nel isn’t an easy task.

A dearth of lo­cal re­search is just one of the chal­lenges iden­ti­fied by the sec­tor, says McGre­gor. Find­ing suit­able high­value lo­ca­tions, prop­erty owner at­ti­tudes to­wards dig­i­tal site devel­op­ment, se­cur­ing coun­cil ap­provals, the cost of hard­ware and on-go­ing main­te­nance, choos­ing con­tact man­age­ment sys­tems and the con­struc­tion of dis­plays are all is­sues he iden­ti­fies as in­te­gral to the in­dus­try.

“But as the scale of DOOH op­por­tu­ni­ties in­creases one of the big­gest is­sues be­comes achiev­ing con­sis­tency of dis­play in terms of for­mat, ad du­ra­tion, cam­paign pe­riod and au­di­ence mea­sure­ment.”

Alan Ni­cholas, the busi­ness direc­tor at Ngage Me­dia, is op­ti­mistic and pre­dicts we’ll see the great­est level of dig­i­tal de­ploy­ments this year in a num­ber of en­vi­ron­ments, large and small, as ad­ver­tis­ers begin to see more value in op­tions avail­able.

This trend is al­ready be­ing seen in Auck­land where slick dig­i­tal screens are al­ready com­mon on the streets, at the air­port, at the ASB show­grounds, at petrol sta­tions, in dairies and in the McDon­ald’s on Do­min­ion Road.

But Ni­cholas sees this as only the start, and be­lieves that the out­door in­dus­try needs to play an ac­tive role in spread­ing the good word about DOOH.

“As with any­thing new, we need to ed­u­cate the mar­ket,” he says.

In 2012 West­pac took a coura­geous step in re­plat­form­ing dig­i­tal bank­ing and the un­der­ly­ing core IT Ser­vices that drive it in or­der to en­able their new strat­egy. They im­proved staff work­flows, built in­fra­struc­ture to man­age the quan­ti­ties of data mov­ing to and from the bank, and in­te­grated a con­tact pro­gramme that cre­ated tai­lored, re­spon­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tions with each cus­tomer through any chan­nel. The bank’s award win­ning omni-chan­nel de­ci­sion­ing en­gine ‘Sym­pony’ drives the mes­sage, tim­ing and chan­nel se­lec­tion, an­nu­ally man­ag­ing 10 mil­lion in­bound and branch con­ver­sa­tions, 50 mil­lion ATM in­ter­ac­tions and more than 100 mil­lion on­line and App ses­sions in or­der to mar­ket di­rectly to ev­ery cus­tomer. This ap­proach has re­quired con­sid­er­able learn­ing and re­fine­ment over the last 18 months. Re­sults are en­sured by us­ing rich cus­tomer-spe­cific data

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