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Marketing agencies using technology to plug talent gaps

77% of UK organisations, including marketing agencies, say they are finding ways for technology to do jobs formerly performed by people in the face of hiring and skills issues.

That’s according to new research from Rackspace Technology, which shows two thirds (64%) of UK companies are downsizing their staff, facilitated by technology, out of a necessity, with roles in customer service the most likely to be automated, as identified by 70% of business decision makers – followed by IT operations (62%), sales and marketing (57%), business operations (56%), and HR and admin (56%).

Half of UK companies (47%) have increased their IT investment due to the current economic climate, recognising the crucial role technology will play in improving performance and plugging skills gaps.

Almost two thirds (63%) are looking for technology to drive greater efficiencies, such as through moving infrastructure to the cloud, but the motivation for increased investment also extends to talent issues, with UK companies now investing 1.5 times more money in roles performed by technology than those performed by people.

This reflects the challenging labour market, with two thirds (65%) of companies finding it difficult to fill technical vacancies and a similar proportion (62%) struggling to retain IT staff.

This commitment to technology to combat talent shortages, and the consequent trend for an increase in IT investment, is also being driven by growing confidence in return on investment among senior leaders. Three in five (58%) organisations acknowledge established ROI on technology is encouraging further financial commitments.

It is also shifting the requirements for all staff, not solely those working in IT. The vast majority (85%) of UK companies now prefer non-technical staff to have a degree of technical proficiency, regardless of whether it’s a core element of the role. 

Mahesh Desai, Chief Relationship Officer, EMEA, at Rackspace Technology, comments: “In times of economic uncertainty, committing increased spend to technology is a risk a majority of companies simply must take in the face of technical skills shortages across the board.

“Not only can technology offset the reduced workforce available but it is a well-established way of driving business efficiencies as well – though only if used effectively.

“Three quarters (73%) of UK organisations also said cloud operations would be a key investment area over the next 12-18 months and while they have correctly identified an important tool in improving their operations, they will need to optimise these investments and strategies to feel the true benefit.

“It should also be noted that technology itself is very different to technical-proficient staff. A tough labour market and therefore necessity might be driving the growing role tech is playing within companies but finding and retaining capable staff will remain crucial for businesses to thrive.”

To download the full report, click here.

Fearless Adventures seeks next gen digital entrepreneurs

North West-based Fearless Adventures has launched a multimillion-pound fund and novel with the aim of growing the next generation of direct-to-consumer startups in the UK.

Started by a trio of the country’s brightest young entrepreneurs, David Newns, Dominic McGregor (pictured) and Charlie Yates, Fearless Adventures offers their partner entrepreneurs three areas of support: funding, marketing services and talent.

The founders believe this is the key to fast growth and more successful exits further down the line but isn’t currently offered under one roof elsewhere.

Three entrepreneur-led companies are on board already, benefitting from not only the funding but also Fearless Adventures’ best-in-class centralised team of digital marketers, data experts, and talent specialists. The company aims to close up to 10 investments as soon as the end of 2021.

In time for launch, it has already lured top talent from the Hut Group, Social Chain and Mojo Mortgages to provide topflight expertise on everything from SEO to PPC, and business intelligence to data analytics. To serve its portfolio, Fearless Adventures is based in a new high-tech workspace in Manchester, where its partners can also take advantage to work alongside their internal team.

The fast pace of partner onboarding and talent acquisition is characteristic of the Fearless Adventures’ founders – who have started, scaled and sold a clutch of nine-figure businesses of their own. Newns found and sold two companies for £158m within eight years by the time he was 33, taking a seat at the top level of FTSE30 company Imperial Brands in the process, as Group Science and Innovation Director.

McGregor co-founded and sold Social Chain. He dropped out of university to become the company’s COO and grew it to over 700 employees on four continents by the time he was 28, eventually leading it to a public listing. And Yates has advised on the sales of over £1bn of owner-managed disposals, using his exceptional e-commerce and retail expertise to advise businesses on how to maximise their equity and value.

David Newns, founder and managing partner of Fearless Adventures, said: “We want founders and startups that we partner with to reach the world-leading heights that we did with our own businesses. So we asked ourselves: ‘What support do we wish we had access to when we started?’. It was clear there was a real gap for an offer that helped passionate entrepreneurs, not only raise capital but get a high quality, ready-made support system to help their startups thrive.”

Dominic McGregor, founder and managing partner, said: “Having been through the highs and lows of growing successful businesses, we have experienced almost every problem associated with scaling companies. And we’re passionate about putting that expertise to great use with our partner companies that have already demonstrated a successful market fit, are profitable and are led by talented entrepreneurs who are as ambitious for growth as we are.”

Charlie Yates, founder and managing partner, said: “Our key principle is ensuring we have complete alignment with our partner companies and investors. We structure our investments so that we are uniquely incentivised to help deliver as much value to the founders and their companies as possible”.

In addition, the team plans to develop and launch an apprenticeship program, The Fearless Academy. With a strong commitment to diversity, it will offer young, ambitious talent, training opportunities in marketing to equip individuals with the tools and skills for career progression.