I recently completed a fairly big piece of research work for the smart folk at Econsultancy that was focused on understanding how the shape and scope of marketing skills is shifting in response to the impact of digital technologies. It was a pretty engrossing project, the output of which is a report I authored on the Skills of the Modern Marketer (you will need to be an Econsultancy member to access the full report but as around 250,000 people are I figure there's a good chance you already will be). I also penned a post over on the Econsultancy blog about it, and there's a useful infographic which has been produced to summarise some of the main findings.
There's some good data in the report around the growth of vertical areas of expertise, but when I was conducting interviews with senior marketers as part of the research process something quite fascinating began to emerge early on and was then echoed in every interview I did – the growing influence and significance in modern marketing of particular 'soft' skills. Most notable in these were the ability to embrace change and uncertainty, to spot opportunities and adapt strategies quickly, curiousity, passion, and self-motivated learning, an open and collaborative approach, and the ability to make connections between disparate ideas. Interestingly, the skill mentioned most of all was the ability to articulate digital concepts well to non-digital specialists in the company, a strong signal I think that digital really cannot sit in a silo. Whilst functional skills remain important, and whilst these kinds of softer skills may be considered to have long been relevant, my sense from all those that I spoke to was that the latter are increasingly seen as not just important but crucial contributors to marketing competency in a digital world. Fascinating.