Back to Gartner for Marketers Blog

Digital Dexterity for CMO’s Marketing Team

By Sally Witzky | October 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

In a report recently issued by Gartner, findings show employees with high levels of digital dexterity are 3.3 times more likely to launch and complete digital initiatives quickly, and to deliver value from them than those with moderate digital dexterity.

What is digital dexterity? According to the October 2018 report, Executive Guidance: Digital Dexterity at Work – How and Why to Prepare Your Workforce for the Future of Digital, digital dexterity describes a set of beliefs, mindsets and behaviors that help employees deliver faster and more valuable outcomes from digital initiatives. Those beliefs, mindsets and behaviors include both the ambition and the ability to work digitally and build digital businesses.

Gartner Digital Dexterity Report 1018 Cover

The most impactful actions fall into three categories:

  1. Leadership priorities: communication and ability of leaders to model the behaviors
  2. Organizational environment: frameworks and processes that promote tech experimentation
  3. Employee competencies: business acumen, systems thinking, adaptability and fusion collaboration

After surveying 3,500 corporate employees globally, Gartner found that digital dexterity is in short supply, is more than being tech savvy, is not dependent on millennials and is higher in some demographics where employees work in digitally-intensive functions and industries or who hold senior positions. The fact that digital dexterity is rare is an opportunity for the Chief Marketing Officer to lead and direct the marketing team as well as to influence and set an example for the rest of the organization as needed.

What can the CMO do to encourage digital dexterity within his or her marketing team? First, set the tone by crafting a digital business narrative that highlights the importance of digital dexterity. Second, model the behaviors by setting the example that others should follow. Lastly, embed in the operations by ensuring that workflows, incentives, budgets and policies foster, not hamper, digital dexterity. In organizations where leaders consistently carry out these actions, the impact on employees’ likelihood to possess digital dexterity is 2.4X that those in which leaders do not.

The CMO can create a marketing organization in which digital dexterity thrives. The benefits of high levels of digital dexterity ensures that marketers work iteratively, collaborating across seniority levels and functional boundaries. The associates also become risk-tolerant, flexible and autonomous in their roles and can work through uncertainty similar to what’s happening in high tech organizations.

CMOs can support iterative and collaborative ways of working by establishing diverse teams, setting the expectation that decisions made impact the customer, and removing barriers. Incorporating design-thinking techniques, including empathy and customer journey maps, further encourages digital dexterity.

How can the CMO align the marketing organization with digital dexterity in terms of individual performance? Traditional career ladders and rotations are not as helpful as diamond-shaped careers and lateral, experienced-based assignments which can lead to higher career achievement. Diamond-shaped careers is a learning-based career model where progression is driven by the diversity of an employee’s experiences. While not so easy to implement, there are a few simpler and lower-cost talent development practices for the CMO to embrace:

  1. Support workflow, not role, shadowing which can be done in days, not months or years
  2. Segment and target digital dexterity development using profiles such as caretakers, engineers, mavericks, navigators and pilots as detailed in the report
  3. Realign incentives to encourage digital dexterity, including objectives and bonus criteria

To find out more, simply download the Gartner Digital Dexterity report from Gartner Executive Guidance and begin with the action steps listed.

Leave a Comment