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Should digital strategists say goodbye to their jobs?

Okay, so maybe we’re not there yet. But what will all these “Social media”, “Digital”, “Mobile” and “Online” strategists do when online and conventional marketing truly become integrated. Can we still justify the hyper specialisation and fragmentation surrounding digital strategy? Are these titles still relevant in an integrated 360 degree advertising world?

What is digital strategy anyway? Is it a real title or just a fancy name we give ourselves to make us feel special? It feels impressive, calling yourself a digital strategist hanging around with other like-minded “strategists”. Frequently it is nothing more than back slapping with little actual action. Just because you set up a Facebook page does not make you a strategist.

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Right, rant over. So, what makes you a digital strategist in the first place?

I had a look through some “Digital Strategy” job descriptions and they basically all say the same thing. The role involves defining opportunities and insights by evaluating the client objectives, customer needs, capabilities/assets, analytical data and competitive realities blah blah blah… So what is the difference between this and brand strategy? Um, an understanding of digital technologies? (Light bulb moment, right there).

Sounds great, but what happens when brand planners become more familiar with these technologies? Do we become obsolete?

At best, digital strategists become shiny new tools used to sell pitches, educate clients and talk at conferences throwing around Twitter stats. They will find themselves getting creative ideas and briefs from traditional art directors and planners to “Make the idea digital”. Such directors treat digital strategy like it’s a simple Google translator application that converts paper-based ideas to interactive ones. We become tactical which well just isn’t strategic enough.

So we change routes, and demand that digital be involved upfront from the conceptual phase. We include our traditional and digital agency in briefs upfront but at the end of the day, the client just wants one agency that can do all the planning. We don’t have radio, television and print strategist and creatives, so do we need special digital ones?

The truth is we won’t. That is, if we see digital strategy as a purely marketing function.

Marketing is evolving to include digital in traditional planning stages. Digital is becoming part of the core business model, from customer care technologies, to finding new engagement platforms that live beyond campaigns and reside at the heart of your business intelligence and efficiency.

Whatever happens, your average digital strategist won’t be cast to the streets just yet, but they will need to rise up to the ever changing challenges of the world around them update their skills and adapt. They will also have to build touch points with every area within the agency and business, and challenge new ways of thinking.

It’s time to drop the “specialist” mentality. Let’s lose the titles and focus on expanding our skills. You can evolve your “specialist skill” while still developing generalist understanding. A smart man said recently “Specialisation leads to limitation, generalists change the world”.

Image: #96

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