Article

Stella Goulet
Stella Goulet 10 March 2020

How to make your marketing organization future ready now

When our marketing team was setting objectives for our new fiscal year, we focused on creating great client and employee experiences, driving innovation and efficiencies, and using data and intelligence more effectively. Fortunately, we had a good roadmap to follow with Avanade’s Future Ready. Now. Model.

The model is designed to help businesses prepare for a future that’s constantly changing. It incorporates three dimensions:

  • Experience: Delight both customers and employees with rich, personalized end-to-end experiences that go beyond device and location.
  • Efficiency: Optimize business processes to increase agility, improve time to market and cut costs.
  • Innovation: Foster a culture that supports rapid testing, continual discovery and the adoption of new skillsets, so you can stay ahead of the market.

So, how does that translate for marketing?

Experience: Putting customers and employees at the center
In recent Avanade research, we found that marketing decision-makers see customer experience (CX) as the number one driver for their organizations’ digital transformation, while executives in other areas of the business are more likely to cite technology developments. That’s not surprising. Most marketers know that providing a great experience across all the customer touchpoints is critical for a company’s success and that technology is a key enabler to help achieve it. That means ensuring user-centered, engaging and designed interactions between the brand and the customer at all those points.

However, it takes more than marketing. A holistic CX across the full customer lifecycle – from first touch to last – has to be the responsibility of everyone in the organization. That takes partnerships across the business, including marketing, sales, IT and others. For example the CMO-CIO relationship is crucial to enabling people to collaborate across both existing and new technology with the goal of improving customer experience.

But you can’t get to a great CX without also addressing the employee experience (EX). A study by MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) found that companies with the best employee experiences see dramatic business benefits. Increasingly marketers understand that. In our own research, 92% of marketing executives said insight into the customer experience and employee experience has equal priority. And EX needs to be considered in its entirety, including modern workplace tools and technology, autonomy in decision-making, updated skills and capabilities, career development and advancement, as well as compensation and benefits.

Efficiency: Modernizing your martech to improve CX
Modernizing key marketing processes and technology is critical to building an efficient, future-ready organization that provides great CX. Traditionally many marketing organizations have built their tech stack in an ad hoc manner (social channels, search, web, etc.). The result: a spaghetti mix of technology systems and many, often disconnected, sources of data behind the scenes, resulting in an inability to get a complete view of the customer experience.

This kind of disconnected martech stack prevents marketing teams from improving their efficiency and delivering a consistent CX. In fact, research we conducted with Sitecore found that 61% of businesses were losing money because of their martech stack.

When we were looking to upgrade our martech stack, there were so many systems and tools available that it was difficult to decide which to bring into our ecosystem. It took careful thought and planning to ensure we were selecting technologies that would help us achieve our objectives and integrate with our other systems. But it was worth the effort because a connected martech stack not only improves efficiencies; it also enables marketers to get a more holistic view of customers, leading to more effective marketing activities and ultimately a better CX.

Innovation: It’s about people, culture and intelligence
Innovation is increasingly important for marketers, especially in product industries where marketing has a growing role in product development. Driving greater marketing innovation comes down to a number of elements. First, you need people with the right skills and capabilities, including data and analytics experience. They’re in high demand, so if you can’t hire the right people, develop the capabilities in-house by retraining your existing talent. We have found that it’s worth the effort, because a more data-driven approach can provide a clearer view of marketing effectiveness and unleash new, innovative marketing initiatives.

Innovation is also a matter of culture. Developing a culture of innovation isn’t easy and can’t be a one-time activity. However, starting small can provide momentum to encourage more innovative thinking. For example, we recently launched a marketing innovation program to help get our team thinking differently. The result was a wide range of ideas, including new ways to develop creative assets, improve the sales and marketing partnership, and further automate the lead process, which allows our people to focus on more innovative and creative activities. A number of these initiatives are now being implemented and will become business as usual for us.

New technologies like predictive analytics and machine learning provide intelligence that can drive marketing innovation. In our research, more than 90% of marketing executives said they’re currently investing or planning to invest in predictive analytics in the next three years. And 82% are investing in speech/text/image recognition analysis and processing, which can be used with social media and unstructured data inputs that could help better measure awareness marketing, which is typically hard to track. The insight gained from these new technologies can also help us adjust our strategy and plans, stopping things that aren’t working well and increasing our effort on activities that are more effective.

Become future ready now
Given today’s speed of change, being ready for what comes next is essential for successful marketing organizations. A good place to start is by asking a few key questions:

  • Are you focusing on both customer experience and employee experience in equal measure?
  • Are you modernizing and infusing intelligence into your marketing processes and technology to give you a more holistic, predictive view of customers?
  • Are you willing to change your culture to incorporate innovation into your marketing organization’s lifeblood?
  • Are you ready? I’d be interested in hearing your ideas about how to make today’s marketing organization future ready now – drop your comments below.

Click on over to learn more about how today’s enterprises can be future ready now.

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