Dublin’s Digital Marketing Institute raises €26m to tackle skills deficit

14 Sep 2017

Image: RawPixel/Shutterstock

The Digital Marketing Institute is aiming to tackle the widening digital skills gap.

Dublin-headquartered Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) has raised €26m in an investment led by Spectrum Equity, a growth equity firm that has backed players such as Lynda.com, SurveyMonkey and Bitly.

The financing will fuel investment in the DMI’s professional learning and certification programmes, accelerating the company’s international expansion.

The DMI has experienced rapid growth, with more than 18,000 professionals in 115 countries having completed its learning programmes to date. Since 2014, it has grown 73pc annually on the back of strong uptake of its online and corporate learning programmes, as well as licensed courses offered via a network of more than 100 education partners globally.

In conjunction with the investment, Adam Margolin and Parag Khandelwal of Spectrum Equity will be joining the DMI board of directors. Ted Weissberg, former CEO of ACAMS – which was acquired for $330m last year – will join the board as executive chair and will work closely with Ken Fitzpatrick, CEO of the DMI, and the rest of the team on the company’s global expansion.

“There is an urgent need for digital marketing and digital sales education for professionals,” said Margolin. “The Digital Marketing Institute is uniquely positioned to address this growing global skills gap through its innovative, industry-validated certification programmes.”

Dearth of digital skills in traditional sales and marketing

Dublin’s Digital Marketing Institute raises €26m to tackle skills deficit

Ken Fitzpatrick, CEO, Digital Marketing Institute. Image: DMI

A comprehensive study from the DMI last year highlighted the widening digital skills gap within organisations in Ireland, the UK and the US.

When tested across a range of digital marketing disciplines, marketing professionals achieved an average test score of just 38pc, down from 42pc in 2014. Most worryingly, the competency-based test revealed that only 8pc of marketers achieved entry-level skills.

Speaking with Siliconrepublic.com, Fitzpatrick said the reality is that jobs being advertised for sales and marketing roles are increasingly digitally based, which is at odds with the state of skills in traditional sales and marketing.

“When we examined the type of skills across the three countries, strategy and planning emerged as the leading skills gap in organisations. For the US, in particular, a staggering 63pc of respondents working in digital marketing roles struggle with strategy and planning skills. Digital marketing manager and director roles are proving hard to fill for this reason. Mobile marketing skills also proved in short supply and showed the biggest drop in competency in two years.

“On reviewing the jobs advertised on recruitment sites today, it feels like we have passed the tipping point where there are more specific digital marketing roles than traditional ones. While this presents a great opportunity for the Digital Marketing Institute, it presents a challenge for businesses trying to adapt and keep pace with these changes.”

With more than 100 partners worldwide, Fitzpatrick said that the DMI has positioned itself as the global certification standard in digital marketing and digital sales education, and is uniquely positioned to respond to the global need for better skilled digital marketing and sales professionals.

“The investment allows us to scale the international growth of the business significantly, principally through investment in people, product, technology and branded marketing. We have not specified numbers at this time, but there will certainly be an increase in staff numbers, which currently stand at 65. We foresee additional headcount being required in Ireland and overseas, predominantly America, where we see huge potential for growth.

“The Digital Marketing Institute will continue to focus on its core international growth areas of B2C and corporate online learning programmes and its licence business, enabling a global network of education providers to offer our programmes.

“Our business is based on a global model, with 85pc of our alumni based outside Ireland. We plan to open overseas offices to continue to underpin our international growth, but the intention is to remain headquartered in Dublin, Ireland,” Fitzpatrick concluded.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years