In this computerized world, what do agencies look for in people to fill technology's gaps?
The answer to this question lies in understanding what you should expect from machines and people, with the goal being to strike the right balance between your staff and technology. At our agency, we call this "humanology."
I will focus on paid search engine marketing because that's where the greatest divide between computers and people lies. But the thought process applies to other technologies in our digital world.
For the most part, people's strengths are the same as machines' weaknesses and vice-versa. Let's look at what your ideal division of labor should be.
The people-oriented skills you will need to look for include developing search strategy, building keyword lists and writing search results copy, analyzing data, developing offers and calls-to-action, communicating with other departments whose tactics could impact search, and so on.
The people strengths portion of the chart leads you to conclude that the main traits your staff should have lies in two main areas. The first is keyword/adgroup/copy/offer development, which requires someone who knows how to write good DR ad copy and has some basic DR experience. The other, data analysis, requires a bright person who is good with numbers, but may not necessarily need to have search experience.
Analyzing people vs. technology gives us clues as to what we need from the search technology you use, which is what you don't need from people, including importing/exporting of data, numbers crunching, producing reports and automated bidding.
Before you hire people or acquire technology, have a clear idea of what you expect from both, so that your people and machines work in harmony, and that your staff gets the maximum value from the technology you use.