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  • Writer's pictureDave Yeates

The marketing technology horizon

How do you change and navigate the technology landscape; keeping one eye on the customer whilst the other eye watches the business processes?

Now that there is overwhelming evidence both in enterprise and in the academics from HBR,Forrester Research and Gartner Research that the need for Marketing Technologists is real – even if it isn’t an official title – it appears to be putting the Information Systems function of any business under full review and even more interestingly, it’s allowing businesses to question the entire value chain and customer lifecycle from the ground up.

The technology emphasis is shifting from operational process optimisation to customer centricity.

The former, being traditionally driven by the CIO for reasons of system and data integrity, results in centralisation. The latter, by way of the Marketing Technologist MT, now allows decentralisation as customer data drawn from legacy systems is combined with a plethora of external and internal sources to provide the insights necessary for customer centricity.

So, where does the CIO belong?

What this isn’t, is a capitulation of the CIO role. What this is, however, is a complementary overlay highlighting the importance of digital assets, which are typically found outside of the CIO role and are now mission critical to the value chain of the customer-facing business; requiring focused and dedicated governance. We have to acknowledge that whatever this title or function might be, a Marketing Technologist will serve as a liaison to IT and that it doesn’t remove the need for governance and support of information systems. However, in the same breath we must also acknowledge that the changing landscape of technology, the proliferation of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) and remote operating, even the CIO role is evolving.

Making the Marketing Technologist work

Some people are referring to it as the CDO (Chief Digital Office), both the HBR and author Scott Brinker, argue for the rise of the CMT is the valuable addition to the c-suite. Whatever it becomes, these conversations are about to happen at a similar rate to the creation of unicorn tech companies worldwide, rapidly, exponentially and almost out of control. Which is why this role is intended to navigate this.

Sheryl Pattek, one of the authors of the Forrester research distilled some lessons for MarketingMag, suggests the roles in this space seek to fully support the customer lifecycle. This again validates bringing digital technology governance under the umbrella of the Marketing Office.

And from our perspective, we’re seeing it time and time again, the need to explore, govern and offer best practice in digital and ‘Software as a Service’ products:

  • A Mining research organisation, sponsored by Australia’s biggest miners, is exploring ‘a set of guiding principles to improve interoperability’ across the mining value chain. This includes the use of digital technology.

  • A popular car manufacturer spoke to us about their success in connecting their CRM, business insights and marketing automation tools to provide mobile business insights with a single-customer-view.

  • We assisted a produce company in integrating the digital management of two siloed business processes, production and logistics, to reduce inventory costs by 75%

  • We spoke with multiple professional services firms about their needs to inform their decision making with better customer insights, sharper, less subjective branding and more fluid ways of marketing

  • We worked with a superannuation company to test and learn a customer-centric approach to onboarding and improved customer response by 400%

Changing the way we think.

The proximity of digital governance to the business’ processes, its close ties to the customer experience, marketing and its anti-pattern with the traditional hierarchical, closed information systems and technology is why Marketing Technology Office is both very viable and relevant right now.

Traditional aggregated architecture will not suffice here. We’re dealing with the onset and confluence of big data and customer obsession, the opportunity here is in every step of the value chain, the optimisation of business processes, the integration of siloed systems, the visualisation of business insights.

  • Can we do it cheaper?

  • Can we do it integrated?

  • Can we use it off the shelf?

  • Can Information Systems become a support service to a higher goal?

  • Does it really have to be internally hosted?

  • How can we ensure up-time?

  • Can we do it faster?

  • Can we do it automated?

  • Can these systems talk to each other?

  • What’s the best customer experience here?

  • Can we get around our current limitations?

What’s next?

Part of the Forrester report mentioned discusses the concept of an MOS (Marketing Operating System). Far from a rigid environment, the idea takes lessons learned in technology and projects through concepts like agile and transparent, close-knit & horizontal working environments to delivering key parts of marketing in a ‘fluid and organised’ manner. Sure this includes the campaign elements of the marketing office.Begging the questions:

  • How can a multi-faceted enterprise become truly ‘customer obsessed?

  • How do businesses transition to a fluid operating environment?

  • How do businesses navigate changes in digital technology?

  • What position does an enterprise take to a constantly changing technology landscape?

  • How does a business adapt and leverage the rapid change of a technology?

The answers, I believe, can be found in two places.

  1. Marketing Operations –scope, define and create a marketing office, or part thereof, that takes advantage of digital technology and customer obsession. Not just at a campaign level, but at an enterprise level with a holistic brand or even business lens to the function of the marketing operating system. Asking how you can be better at multi-channel customer experiences, not just campaigns. Asking how to learn more about your customers and how to use the insights you do get to remove the subjectivity and assumptions that hold your marketing back.

  2. Digital Transformation –a concerted effort, by an organisation, to move into digital operations and to govern it from under one roof. This isn’t one big, huge ERP transformation, where the business conforms to one system’s way of working, quite the opposite. It’s a decision to digitise, mobilise and optimise the business around its people, customers and ultimately its bottom line… Choosing the right platforms, governance and digital assets to increase revenue, drive down costs and provide better insight into the use of technology.

These are the same two places I’ve spoken to multiple organisations about and the same two places that ultimately form the Marketing Technology Office under the Chief Marketing Technologist.

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