Career Advice The Unstoppable Rise of Digital

A decade on from the Great Recession, we still find ourselves living in uncertain times

Blame it on Brexit, the machinations of Dominic Cummings or the Trump Tweet Tyranny, the bottom line is that volatility is back and global growth is slowing.

Has this had an impact on the Digital Economy? Not really!

According to the latest Tech Nation report, there were 263,000 people employed in Digital and over 51,690 tech businesses within London in 2019. That’s a rise of over 20% year on year. Let’s look at this in closer detail by sector.

Fintech now employs 76,500 people and is projected to grow to 100,000 by 2030. Companies in this space will double to 3,300. London alone houses a third of Europe’s Tech Unicorns!

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency have seen a rise of 300% in jobs since last year, with developers with Blockchain skills becoming the hottest commodity in the freelance market.

The Creative sector has also outperformed and will continue to grow twice as fast as the UK economy, creating 1,000 new jobs a week. Tech is projected to generate 100,000 new jobs over the next 20 years.

Rise of the Startup

Breaking this down into more granular detail, we at Success Digital have seen a rise in startups, especially in the North, and scale-ups in the South. In particular, there is high demand for talent in Customer Experience (CX), Data & Analytics and Performance Marketing.

Salaries in these areas are on the rise and our clients are facing a real challenge to retain their best talent, resulting in counter offers and, in some cases, out-of-sync salaries. In fact, we have seen more counter offers this year than the whole of 2018 and 2019 combined.

Furthermore, our clients are having to encourage more soft benefits to attract and lock in top talent. These range from flexi-time, cycle-to-work schemes, smarter working (such as remote working) and upskilling.

Fintech now employs 76,500 people and is projected to grow to 100,000 by 2030. London alone houses a third of all of Europe’s Tech Unicorns!


In 2019, a number of our forward-thinking clients have improved consumer interaction and built better brand awareness.

And, while voice search and live video have played key roles in achieving a more personalised consumer experience, 2019/20 will see a bigger role for Artificial Intelligence in personalisation; smart speakers; continued growth in content marketing and the integration of online, social and mobile marketing to create fully integrated marketing programmes.

With these trends, we have seen the rise of influencers, micro bloggers and performance marketers – and given their increased importance, salaries have risen the most for these profiles.

However, we are not sure if this will continue into the mid-late 2020, as influencer-tracking technologies continue to improve.

Temp to Perm

We saw strong demand for User Experience (UX) professionals this year, as more of our clients continue to bring this function in-house.

And, although permanent salaries still lag the freelance market, the UX function is critical for clients looking to embrace a digital-first strategy, so the UX professionals can be assured of having a secure career in-house.

In conclusion, there has been a shift from Temp to Perm at competitive salaries in this area.

The Creative and Content side is still massively in demand for both temporary and permanent hires, as more of our clients look to expand their online channels.

This has resulted in pay rates increasing by 20% across the board.

Taking Ownership

This year has seen a spike in recruitment for Product Owners and Project Managers, as clients go full throttle into Digital Transformation.

Dynamic brands are looking for innovation and expertise in developing new product offers, so they can provide a true omni-channel experience that yields tangible outcomes.

We see this trend continuing into next year and once again, similar to the UX function, there will be quite a few freelancers switching to permanent roles, as this becomes an in-house function in itself.

In 2019, demand outweighed supply for Product Owners and even more so for the Head/Senior guys, which explains salaries rising to £80k from circa £55k a year before.

Change Agents

With tech innovation rising on the boardroom agenda, we have seen a greater reliance on a mix of temporary, contract and permanent tech talent to manage the transformative projects on the runway.

Hence, UK salaries in Tech are now averaging over £80,000 (source: Computer Weekly) while at the top end, CIO/CTOs can command packages between £200 to £300k + equity.

The freelance and contract markets for these roles are equally buoyant, where day rates are around £250 to £500 according to experience.

Some can even be as high as £1,000+ depending on the experience and in-demand software skills they possess. We see this momentum carried way beyond 2020.

So Hot Right Now

With 188 million emails sent, 4.5 million YouTube videos watched and 18 million texts shared every minute, we produce over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. That’s why our clients continue their search for increasingly talented Data & Analytics specialists.

In fact, it is predicted that, by 2020, Data Science and Analytics job openings will reach 2.7 million.

Currently, there are severe skill shortages in SQL, R and Python and relevant Mathematical backgrounds, which have meant inflated salaries and hostile counter offers to retain the best talent.

Entry-level salaries are now pitched at £40k circa for graduates, rising to £150k+ for Heads-of level with Machine Learning background. Time to switch careers?

With technology innovation rising on the boardroom agenda, we have seen a greater reliance on a mix of temporary, contract and permanent tech talent to manage the transformative projects on the runway. 

Smarter working coupled with the uncertain and volatile business environment has resulted in our contract and freelance desk hitting an all-time high.

This trend has seen the rise of the ‘gig’ economy, which is mutually beneficial for both employer and candidates as there are no tie-ins, safeguarding companies from economic downturns. Key projects are being delivered this way, enabling businesses to move forward dynamically on their digital journey.

Contractors are equally satisfied by this arrangement, as they get lucrative pay rates and great variety in their careers by working on multiple projects.

On the permanent recruitment landscape, our London office continues to see more business from startups and brands in build motion.

There is a thriving startup ecosystem in London that facilitates learning, connections, access to capital and arguably the best multi-cultural talent in the world.

Northern Exposure

In the North, the Digital sector is creating jobs twice as fast as equivalent non-digital industries. As a result of this trend, a number of our Manchester office clients have raised their salaries in line with remunerations paid in London and the South.

Last word – while the Digital sphere has not been hit by economic uncertainty in the same way as other industries, it is imperative that our clients have a future-proof Digital Transformation strategy.

For our candidates, we anticipate that tight client budgets will limit the generous pay rises for Permanent hires and the same for Contractors – especially with the introduction of IR35 (legislation that allows HMRC to collect additional payment where a contractor is an employee in all but name).

This is all illustrated in our Salary Survey, which we hope you find useful!

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Digital Marketing Jobs

At Success Digital we are always looking to work with smart, informed marketers. If you are a marketer looking for the perfect role, or a company looking for the perfect marketer, contact and view our digital marketing jobs page.