The most successful businesses of the near-future will be those that succeed in bridging the traditional gap between marketing and information technology, digitising their marketing processes to deliver more personalised and seamless experiences to their customers in the process.
That’s according to Sean Donnelly, group managing director at Gloo, who says that the rise of the digital consumer demands that companies leverage technology as effectively in the front-office as they do in the back-office.
The goal should be to exploit digital technologies to create new sources of value for customers, while improving the level of automation in marketing processes.
“New paradigms are emerging for marketing, and they demand that marketers embrace true digital transformation as an imperative,” says Donnelly. “It’s no longer enough to experiment with digital technologies as the periphery of the business – marketers must look closely at how they can harness digital platforms to drive their processes end-to-end.”
Donnelly says that marketers are operating in an environment where consumers are constantly connected, wherever they are. They expect to be able to access personal service at all times and from any device – a demand that places businesses under pressure to digitise business operations from back-office to front-end.
Yet most businesses still have a wide range of legacy systems and processes in place, which restrains them from achieving true digital transformation.
“The reality is that although we are hearing more conversations about the importance of digital technologies in driving customer engagements, digital is still driving their market strategies at most organisations,” says Donnelly.
One barrier is that organisations’ business processes and underlying technology is not fit for the purpose of digitisation. Digital transformation demands that companies are able to gather vast amounts of data from multiple sources, harvest the insights it yields, and use these to personalise marketing for customers in an automated manner and at massive scale, Donnelly says.
“Most organisations are not set up to manage this data,” he adds. “The challenges of gathering, managing and integrating data are massive, but businesses must face up to them. Data is the key to providing services that keep customers coming back.”
This changing environment demands new thinking from organisations, as well as the agencies and consultants they work with, Donnelly suggests. CEOs need to lead digital transformation at the strategic level, making resources available to the marketing and IT departments to drive change.
CIOs and CMOs (or marketing directors), meanwhile, need to work more closely together. CIOs should contribute knowledge of systems and data to the organisation, while CMOs must bring their understanding of customer experience to the mix. “The digital world demands a multidisciplinary approach,” Donnelly adds.
From the agency perspective, digital agencies and traditional marketing consultancies need to learn new skills. They need to be able to have a conversation at the level of management consulting, understand technology, and yet remain creative and in touch with the latest consumer trends. “The digital world demands integration of a range of skills,” Donnelly says. “Agencies that don’t have the ability to work in multidisciplinary teams will be left behind by the market.”