Naomi Marr, Principal Analyst and Katy Tynan, VP, Principal Analyst

Show Notes:

The rapid emergence of generative AI has many B2B marketers wondering what skills and competencies they’ll need to thrive in the next five years. In this episode, Principal Analyst Naomi Marr and VP and Principal Analyst Katy Tynan preview their session at the upcoming B2B Summit North America by providing insight to help marketers answer that vital question.

To help set the stage, Tynan defines some key terms and explains the relationship between them, saying, “Skills are really the atomized elements of a competency; a competency is what has business value; and people with competencies make up the capability.” To illustrate this relationship, she uses the example of public speaking. Public speaking is a competency that comprises skills such as PowerPoint usage, research, and delivery techniques. These skills collectively make up the business capability of having employees who can deliver great presentations and inspire people.

So what specific skills will be most in demand for B2B marketers over the next five years? Technical skills, including AI prompt engineering and the ability to evaluate AI accuracy, will certainly play a crucial role in marketing organizations’ success. But, as Marr explains, B2B marketers must also develop soft skills such as self-efficacy, cognitive abilities, empathy, and excellent communication. These human skills are vital for building strong relationships with clients, collaborating with team members, and adapting to changing market dynamics.

In addition to “hard” and “soft” skills, Tynan says there are two other kinds of skills that are in high demand right now: leadership skills and business acumen. “When we’re thinking about upskilling, I think it’s easy for a lot of organizations to just jump to the hard skills,” she says. “But the reality is we need to think about developing that whole person … in order to get those business capabilities out from the competencies on the other side.”

The discussion also looks into the factors driving the need for new skills and competencies in B2B marketing. The obvious driver is the rapid advancement of technology, particularly AI and generative AI. But another less obvious driver is changing workforce dynamics and demographics. With certain demographics exiting the workforce, many organizations are facing challenges in hiring individuals with the necessary skills. “There aren’t as many people to hire anymore,” Tynan says. “So, if your habit was when you needed new skills, you just went out and hired people who had those skills, that practice is not going to be sustainable in the future.”

The analysts then provide suggestions for closing the skills gaps in marketing organizations. For example, creating a culture of continuous learning and providing opportunities for upskilling is important, as is integrating technology into the learning process, facilitating coaching conversations between managers and team members, and dedicating time for learning and practice. Marketing leaders must ensure that upskilling efforts are not exploitative and don’t lead to burnout in a tightening labor market. One innovative approach discussed is the use of talent marketplaces, where employees can apply for projects and gain new skills while contributing to different teams within the organization.

The episode closes with Tynan and Marr previewing their upcoming session at B2B Summit North America, which will offer attendees the opportunity to delve deeper into assessing skills gaps, building learning plans, and exploring real-life examples of successful upskilling initiatives.