Earlier this month, Theresa May signed the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal with Nicola Sturgeon. Along with other cultural and economic developments, the deal seeks to invest in the fintech, tech and AI sectors, and will ring-fence money to develop data storage and analysis centres in the Scottish capital.
Key commitments include £300m for world-leading data innovation centres; a £25m regional skills programme to support improved career opportunities for disadvantaged groups; and £65m of new funding for housing to unlock strategic development sites.
Over recent years, the Scottish Government has regularly issued support for the tech, data and marketing industries, identifying the central belt as a key area for growth. The value of the digital economy in Scotland was estimated to be £4.45 billion in 2014. Data-driven innovation alone has the potential to deliver £20 billion of productivity benefits for the economy over the next five years.
The prize is an innovative, growing economy.
Advertising and marketing are at the heart of the UK economy and play a vital role in driving economic growth. Annual UK exports of advertising services are worth £4.1 bn and every £1 spent on advertising returns £6 to the economy, resulting in £120bn to UK GDP.
The Scottish government’s recent investment should provide a platform for the rest of the UK to build on – a pilot project that will highlight the potential of the data and marketing industries to continue to drive the post-Brexit British economy.
Marketers need training in data-related skills
The publicity of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal should help to put the data and marketing industries on the radar of those making career choices in the future.
However, the industry needs to develop stronger ties with academic institutions to increase awareness about the skills required for a role within the data-driven industries and provide insights into the career prospects that these positions can offer. DMA Talent runs a series of Creative Data Academies around the UK to provide practical learning opportunities for young talent interested in a career in the data and marketing industry. Working with Scottish universities, we’ll be developing this programme with a long term aim of reaching schools and colleges throughout the UK.
As both the Scottish and UK governments have realised, businesses will need to upskill in areas concerned with data and its value to business. The recent ‘Professional skills census 2018’ from the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM) highlights ‘data-related skills’ as a key area with skills gaps that need to be addressed. In a post-GDPR era, marketers are held more accountable for their actions, but they must receive relevant training and guidance to better understand their evolving roles - where processing consumer data and interpreting it are now key areas of their job description.
Developing an ethical framework for processing data The DMA’s ‘Data privacy: What the consumer really thinks’ report highlights that 88% of consumers believe transparency is key to increasing trust in how their data is collected and used. The research also revealed an important change in attitudes is underway, with more than half (51%) of the respondents viewing data as essential to the smooth running of the modern economy, up sharply from 38% in 2012.
Ultimately, consumers want more control over their personal information but the industry can do more to increase consumer trust, define best practice, and safeguard data usage. The DMA Code provides a series of core guiding principles to our membership for processing consumer data and it encourages best practice within the marketing and data industries.
We are working with our members to give businesses a better understanding of the values of data and shape the responsible route forward. However, an ethical framework for processing data that extends beyond our industry will be key if the UK economy is to thrive on the opportunities presented by technological advances.
The government’s development of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation will go some way to dealing with the ethical issues raised by rapidly-developing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).
The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation will encourage discussion and research into how data and AI are used in terms of governance and regulation, but more investment will be required for the rest of the UK to follow Scotland’s lead in seeking data-driven innovation.
It is only by putting the customer first and embedding an ethical approach to business culture that consumers and organisations alike will be able to take full advantage of the data revolution. If we don’t get the balance right between data privacy and data-driven innovation, personal data may be misused by some businesses as technology advances. Technology often shapes an organisation’s customer engagement strategy, but our research has shown that trust will influence how receptive and likely consumers are to use it. A practical, universal framework is needed but this will require investment and cross-industry collaboration.
The department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) works closely with the DMA on championing innovation and evolution in the data and marketing industries, and the DMA welcomes future discussions around how we can develop and implement such a framework.
To propel the discussion forward, the DMA and DMA Scotland will launch a new initiative entitled Value of data.
This work will seek partnerships with government, businesses and educational institutions to develop a consumer-focused mindset within the data and marketing industries.
Led by Chair Firas Khnaisser (Standard Life) and Vice Chair Derek Lennox (Sainsbury's Bank), Value of data will help businesses to responsibly deliver value to their customers.
The campaign will provide an engaging, navigable roadmap through a challenging ethical and legal landscape to allow innovative and data-led approaches to customer engagement to thrive. And we’ll do it all with a future-focus: nurturing local and young talent.
Ultimately, the Value of data will develop a true appreciation of the worth of data so businesses can build stronger, more profitable relationships with consumers – responsibly, sustainably and ethically.
The DMA are ready to work alongside our membership, the wider marketing industry, and UK Government to make this a reality in the not too distant future.
Rachel Aldighieri is the managing director of the DMA and group marketing director of the DMA Group