It’s no secret that inflation and economic instability are influencing business spending strategies today. Companies are reevaluating marketing and advertising expenses, which can negatively impact the budgets of media agencies and suppliers.
Many of these businesses are turning to technology like AI, machine learning and automation to help them achieve results for their clients with fewer resources. HubSpot’s 2023 State of Marketing report found that effective marketers are 46% more likely to use automation versus marketers with an ineffective strategy.
Leveraging automation tools, marketers can save an average of six hours a day on manual, administrative and operational tasks, according to HubSpot. They can apply this time towards more creative, strategic work that technology can’t replace.
The same is true for the administrative staff that keep media agencies running. AvidXchange recently joined forces with the Institute of Finance & Management (IOFM) to survey more than 450 finance professionals. We found that 94% would use a tool to automate the most repetitive parts of their job.
Digital Tools Make a Difference
Although finance workers are open to integrating technology tools into their work, there is a disparity between the knowledge most employees possess and those required to thrive in a digital-forward workplace. This is known as a “digital skills gap.” Gartner says the digital skills gap is especially pronounced in finance departments where automation and AI are driving efficiencies, yet only 18% of staff demonstrate digital competency.
Accounts payable (AP) automation helps finance departments eliminate manual tasks to focus on more strategic work. Automated processes can increase efficiency, reduce errors and save time and money. They can also improve data accuracy, provide real-time insights and allow finance teams to enhance client service through faster, more accurate reporting.
Finance departments that have integrated automation report higher employee engagement, which is essential as companies across industries struggle to retain top talent. Most of the AP staff we surveyed said they would use automation to help them save time (85%), reduce errors (79%) and focus on more fulfilling work (65%).
While staff welcome new technologies like automation, employers need to create educational programs that ensure workers have the knowledge required to operate them. That’s where upskilling comes in.
Upskilling Delivers More Than Digital Skills
Upskilling programs are one of the most compelling ways to bridge the digital skills gap. Upskilling refers to training and development opportunities that help employees expand their job-related skills and knowledge to advance their career path.
Upskilling programs can take many forms, including online courses, in-person training and on-the-job learning. By investing in upskilling programs, media agencies and suppliers can help their employees develop the skills they need to succeed in a digitized workplace.
Digital upskilling delivers a win-win for businesses and employees. Providing technical training for existing employees is more cost effective than hiring that expertise externally, especially in a tight labor market. Plus, educational programs help retain existing employees and attract new talent. Most importantly, upskilling allows media agencies and suppliers to maximize ROI on their technology investments.
Upskilling is becoming a sought-after benefit for employers. Our survey with IOFM found that 84% of AP professionals said learning/skills development is “moderately” or “extremely” important when considering a new job opportunity. A recent Gallup study indicates that upskilling is becoming an essential part of many employers’ benefits packages. Workers ages 18-24 rated it more important than paid vacation when evaluating job opportunities.
The Importance of Investing in Upskilling
But how can media agencies afford to build an upskilling program when they’re experiencing a business slowdown? Many experts think businesses can’t afford to NOT integrate upskilling in today’s volatile environment. HubSpot’s 2023 State of Marketing Report notes that spending during a recession goes farther and can help create a competitive advantage.
Upskilling programs can be as simple or complex as you make them, and they should always be designed to meet both the current and future needs of your organization. The Forbes Coaches Council shares a number of affordable upskilling ideas, including internal “lunch and learn” events and creating collaborative “learning circles.”