Today’s agile agency needs to grow its capabilities on two fronts: it needs to build a culture that is agile in thought and produce dynamic results. The effective integration of machine learning developers into your agency can accomplish both of these things and more.
The work of machine learning developers relies on structure and logical processes, while most agencies focus on more creative endeavors. Unifying these two approaches in one organization can be difficult, but is essential as more clients seek content that’s interactive, engaging, and incorporates artificial intelligence.
What Are Machine Learning Developers (And Why Hire Them)?
In it’s simplest form, machine learning involves creating programs that are able to learn and make predictions based on the data they gather. These programs are used for a wide variety of applications, and the developers who create them have become highly sought-after.
Work within this field spans from the creation of basic smartphone apps, all the way up to space technology for NASA. As the digital arena continues to grow, and the global economy relies more on automation, machine learning developers are increasingly in demand beyond the traditional STEM fields.
For agencies using digital tools such as apps or chatbots, acquiring an in-house machine learning developer can be cost-effective and boost productivity.
5 Steps to Integrate Machine Learning Developers
Successfully integrating a machine learning developer into your team is best done step by step.
It’s important to be patient, “trust the process” and focus on building your team’s understanding and skill set along the way.
Step 1: Know Your Identity
It’s important to first understand your agency’s identity. This will help you determine how the developer best fits into your team. It will also be easier for the new team member to begin work, when you can present them with a clear articulation of your agency’s vision, goals, and how they fit into it all.
While the exact way to define your identity will vary from one agency to the next, there are a couple of key questions to consider:
- What makes you unique from your competitors?
- Who is your target audience, and what can you offer them?
- What are your goals and mission statement?
A new agency with a handful of staff that’s been in operation for less than a year will need a different strategy from an agency a decade old with a 100-member staff. This is particularly true if you have a desire to expand your agency staff “as needed,” or if you’re pursuing an aggressive expansion plan. Knowing your agency is vital to integrating a machine learning developer successfully.
Step 2: Understand How the Developer Fits in
Once you’ve clarified your identity as an agency, it’s time to define the machine learning developer’s role. Your core task will be determining how well your developer understands the creative sector, as it’s only one field of many that these developers work in.
While the skills required for your specific agency may vary, look for potential hires who show a willingness to learn, an ability to dedicate themselves, and a readiness to work with others. Even if you’ve found a candidate who ticks all the boxes as a developer, if their interest seems lacking, it’s probably best to consider another applicant.
When you’re ready to hire a candidate, it’s time to discuss their role in-depth. In particular, you need to make it clear where their job begins and ends during the content creation process. One agency may have a developer work concurrently with other staff, whereas another may have its developers begin work once a brief is created by other staff, and complete it solo.
Either approach can work, but clearly defined expectations are essential to ensuring your team’s productivity is optimized. It’s best to nail down this aspect before finalizing the hiring process.
Step 3: Ensure Your Staff Knows How the Developer Fits In
While the job title may stay the same, a machine learning developer’s role can differ widely from agency to agency. Alongside ensuring that your developer has a clear understanding of their role, it’s necessary that your team does too. This can be challenging, since it’s hard to grasp the daily duties of a machine learning developer, as compared to a copywriter or a marketer.
This knowledge can pay off when attracting new clients. An account director who only vaguely knows what languages their developer can program in risks looking uninformed to a potential client, but one who can detail all the developer’s capabilities will impress.
Step 4: Allow Training Time and Prioritize Communication
Each of the above steps will require suitable time devoted to training. An effective team will consciously work to integrate roles, and streamline workflows from one staff member to another. Still, even the best teams take time to integrate when adding new members.
Helping this process go smoothly can require some long-term planning, especially if you’re seeking to add a machine learning developer for specific projects. The exact timeline can vary depending on the size of your agency. As a general rule, try to allow at least a month for training.
Ultimately, whatever timeline you set, communication must be prioritized throughout. This applies not only to the initial training period, but also in an ongoing capacity. After all, a machine learning developer’s role evolves along with new tech.
A smart way to prioritize communication is to focus on knowledge gaps. These are a big problem for many agencies, so actively encouraging staff to identify what they don’t know can be invaluable. When there’s a shared understanding of how to deal with information silos, every team member has the ability to identify what further information they need to perform their role, and help others do the same.
Step 5: Review Team Performance and Grow Integration
After a suitable period, it’s worthwhile to review how well your team is performing. By following the first four steps, you’ll already have established a culture of communication and a readiness to share information. All the same, it’s still productive to ask: “How can we communicate better?” This question can open up numerous possibilities.
Once again, it’s important to note that communication should be inclusive, but doesn’t need to be all-encompassing. Nobody expects a graphic designer to know every small aspect of a developer’s role, or vice-versa. Instead, it’s important to emphasize a need for communication when a knowledge gap exists, and when a staff member feels that vital information must shared so they can better complete their work.
In the online era, we see many businesses shifting towards a truly digital economy. This means a greater need for growth and flexibility, in addition to a demand for more complex digital content. For an agile agency looking to prepare for the future, machine learning developers can play a key role in your team and meet your clients’ needs in new ways.
While the work of a creative agency and machine learning developers may make for an odd pairing at first, in reality this association is the cornerstone of digital productivity. By following the above five steps, your agency can work towards this future effectively. Plus, you can gain an edge in your market, as you build a truly agile team that’s ready for all your clients’ content needs.