What does increasing digital maturity really mean for how organisations are structuring their digital marketing capability?

In both our 2013 report into Digital Marketing Resourcing, and now in our latest 2015 research, we have tracked the growing assimilation of digital into ‘business as usual’.

Over this time, digital has become more seamlessly integrated into wider business and marketing strategies, C-Suite involvement, planning and budgeting, and a heightened level of digital knowledge in the wider organisation.

Alongside this trend toward integration, we are seeing increasing sophistication in how organisations choose to structure their digital capability.

This is evident in a key dynamic that Econsultancy has focused on through out three iterations of our research into organizational structures and resourcing – the balance between centralization and decentralization. 

In our 2013 research, while the digital ‘centre of excellence’ played an important role in how companies structured their resourcing, we noted a shift toward the decentralization of some capabilities into local teams.

Most notably this shift featured capabilities that were more focused on execution.

This ‘hub as strategy, spoke as execution’ concept allowed companies to reap the benefits of centralization, including improved governance, consistency, focus, scalability and leverage, whilst accommodating discrete or localized needs, and better dissemination of knowledge across the business. 

A multiple hub and spoke structure

Our new research has now shown that many organisations have continued to devolve executional and even some strategic aspects from the centre, illustrating that this is a long-term trend.

Yet our findings also show how some companies are now bringing a heightened level of fluidity to this ‘capability flow’.

This increasing sophistication in some cases means capability that was once localized coming back into the centre to support a step change in competence, consistency or innovation.

The nuances of this are reflected in a number of areas. There are some longer-term trends, for example, in resourcing for specific verticals like content, social and ecommerce, where we are seeing capability more closely aligned within the marketing team.

There are also some notable long-term trends whereby some key competencies including email and analytics are being brought more in-house over time.

Yet many companies are also becoming more sophisticated in their approach to utilising outsourcing for specific roles, while capability is built in-house.

Meanwhile, in an effort to drive greater agility and innovation, a number of organisations that we spoke to are making use of interesting new models based around customer-focused structures, concurrent working, and small, nimble, multi-disciplinary teams.

As businesses respond to an accelerating rate of change they are seeking new ways to improve agility through resourcing.

A not insignificant trend result of this is heightened flexibility in resourcing. The future, it seems, is fluid.

For a more detailed look at best practice in digital marketing resourcing, download the new report.

Neil Perkin

Published 25 November, 2015 by Neil Perkin

Neil Perkin is the founder of Only Dead Fish, and a consultant and contributor to Econsultancy. You can read his blog, and follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)


Yvonne Goldbaugh, Chief Executive Officer at Media Matters

I wonder if the hub and spoke structure allows the dissemination of accountability when it comes to content and deliverables. Where will the ultimate accountability lie? How will it be parsed? If it lies within specific hubs, then will the authority to act also lie in those hubs?

over 2 years ago

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