Monday, October 31, 2011

Looking forward to TFM&A Technology and Marketing Debate

Later this week I will be moderating a CMO Panel at the Technology for Marketing and Advertising Conference - TFM&A India. While I have participated in several such conferences, I am particularly looking forward to the interaction I will be having with my fellow panelists on the topic "Driving Innovation Through Marketing + Technology Integration". Traditionally, innovation in marketing is typically used interchangeably with creativity and which most CMOs tend to leverage agency talent for (sometimes unsuccessfully). So, a topic that talks about the integration of marketing and technology to unleash innovation puts the responsibility of innovating flatly on the CMO and his/her team - which will require a change in the mindset and the skills in the marketing team. We will not just need to people who can manage and drive agencies, but also look at savvy marketeers who can harness the power of technology. By this, I don't just mean social media savvy marketeers who run facebook campaigns or self proclaimed mobile marketing experts who really do SMS spampaigns.

If you expand the view of technology beyond social media and mobile devices, you will see that there a whole new suite of capabilities out there thanks to geniuses like Yu Chun Lee, the Founder of Unica, who also happened to be one of the students who inspired the "Teen Patti" or "21" screenplays and others like him who have realized that customer relationship management (CRM) is really a sales tool and not really designed to help marketeers drive better marketing ROI through more effective campaigns. There are now very affordable and easy to implement marketing applications (many available in the cloud) that can enable marketeers to better personalize their campaigns and messages in real time, provide them with customer insights through analytics to help them identify and grow their most profitable customers and even decrease their cost per lead by automating promotions. Here is a short video that I thought expressed explained why and how technology has a role to play in marketing on a Smarter Planet.

The benefits are obvious on the surface but the recent Global CMO study India Point of View showed that Indian CMOs are hesitant to embrace technology primarily because of a lack of certainty on ROI an cost. This is understandable. We have watched our sales brethren suffer through complex and painful CRM and sales automation tool implementations that took years and cost millions of dollars. We have seen our HR friends try automating HR processes like onboarding and expense reimbursements only to still find new employees lost in the intranet wilderness - so why would it be different for us?!

So it will be interesting to hear from other esteemed CMOs on the panel on how they think technology can enable marketeers unleash innovation and how the business case could be made for organizations to support a more technology enabled marketing function. If you have any questions or thoughts for the panel, please do chime in!


  1. Hi Virginia
    Your thoughts are absolutely correct and timely.
    Given that most marketing teams are considered to be expense departments (spending on events, ads, etc), CMO's are almost always challenged to deliver higher ROI for their spends.
    If we step back and analyse the areas that a marketeer can add significant value to business, the areas of market research and analytics will be among the top in most cases. To take this further, this is not to make every marketeer a forecaster but for a marketeer to use tools that can look at disparate pieces of data, combine them with the "gut" feel (as only an experienced marketeer can) and then provide insights to business that will help them take decisions that impact short-term and long-term goals. This can be a simple ones as identifying infrastructure projects that are coming up in specific cities and deciding what campaigns to run at specific times that will resonate with the target audience. It can get more complex if one takes discrete market variables and weaves them to form a common thread that impacts business ... e.g. if a marketeer in a bank were to look at the roll out dates for the UID "Aadhaar" project, he / she may be able to create offers in specific cities that coincide with the roll out dates thus allowing the bank to target new customers.
    All such actions will need a range of analytic tools - not only to collate and make sense of the data that is available but also to be able to be able to disseminate the same in an easy-to-use format. All this will allow marketeers to execute tactics that will not only show short-term results but also provide strategy teams with inputs for long term plans.

  2. An excellent post and I agree with your views . Virginia, one of the questions I would ask the panel of experts would be "While CRM continues to be the backbone for any organization and most talk about how Sales (CRM) data needs to be analysed for cross-sell/up-sell by marketers, how are marketers using the data from customer service teams and to what extent does technology (tools) can help them to leverage this for cross-seel/up-sell opportunites. Are they doing this? If yes, what has been the success rate?

  3. Virginia, a very timely post from you! Everyone understands that in today's world, technology has the deepest impact on business. While leveraging the learnings from the other department automation experiences, now is the turn of marketing to build strategy to leverage existing technologies/tools. IT and marketing should work together to evaluate how these tools can be used by marketing. For example, if Unica starts talking to CRM, it can surely help in providing valuable insights about the customers/prospects not only from sales metrics perspective but a complete comprehensive view. Given the complexity of huge number of variables in marketing in today’s dynamic landscape, prioritization needs to be done for automating any function within marketing. Most of us seem to now understand or realise the potential of online channels but the key factor we should keep in mind is that how much has to be spent on marketing/advertising to build the brand and attract and retain customers.
    While focusing on the ROI, a parallel case also needs to be built to make the internal senior executive stakeholders understand the return from marketing in terms of effectiveness and not only dollar value.
    Besides technology, the success of marketing depends much more on the knowledge workers who are skilled in specific technology that might confer competitive advantage to the function as compared to other functions in the organisation. In addition to its marketing skills, the function needs to focus on business thinking to truly become trusted business advisor to the CEOs.

  4. Great article and some very interesting thoughts in the comments as well. Recently marketing online was dominated by search engine optimization services , but the Panda updates have shifted the focus back to innovation and content. Now the race is on again to see who can create the best content and find the best way to package it and deliver to the customer, without all the old shortcuts to help. Creativity and innovation will dominate the marketplace in the next few years and I can't wait to see what happens.