Clement Teo
Dec 23, 2015

2016: Smarter tech, not more tech

Instead of chasing after new technology, CMOs need to be better at using it, writes Forrester's Clement Teo.

CMOs must step up and lead customer-experience efforts
CMOs must step up and lead customer-experience efforts

The next 12 months will be a critical year for companies to improve their ability to serve digitally savvy and empowered customers. To thrive in this age, they will have to internalise the concept of customer obsession, accepting the fact that digital innovations have disrupted their business models and created customers who are not only empowered but entitled. Strong leadership is essential and collaboration is necessary between CMOs, who must step up and lead customer experience efforts, and CIOs, who must accelerate the business technology agenda. Instead of chasing after more technology, CMOs need to get smarter about integrating and creating multi-channel and cross-channel execution, as well as building the ability to track and analyse across channels.

The key areas for CMOs to better manage marketing technology in 2016 are:

Digital command centres

In 2016, the current marketing organisation will need to be restructured to ensure that the marketing team has increased control and responsiveness in the face of growing customer expectations. As the key to this, digital command centre will therefore become an organisational imperative. 

More than just a shiny room, the command centre allows CMOs to build agility into batch-oriented and channel-focused campaign management teams. The newly agile teams are able to serve up the right digital experiences on the customer journey. 

Having multiple dashboards integrated into a work space will also speed up time-to-market by aligning with overarching marketing and organisational objectives. It also realises cost efficiencies in the long term. Command centres also elevate the level of institutional knowledge of the brand across teams. Digitally transformed organisations will benefit from better cross-channel collaboration that will help turn insights into data faster. 

Demand for marketing technologists

CMOs in Asia-Pacific have to figure out how to adopt new marketing tools in an ever-growing and complex marketing technology landscape in serving customers. In 2016, CMOs will look to (if they have not already) hire marketing technologists who can help them marry marketing technology to marketing outcomes. 

This new role has become necessary as organisations seek to better understand the customer life cycle and increase revenue, instead of focusing narrowly on siloed marketing channels or traditional product approaches. While the role will remain poorly defined throughout 2016, we expect CMOs to start hiring staff that combine marketing technology expertise with business acumen or to begin using an existing internal marketing resource. CMOs must eventually assign technology decisions about digital channels, data analytics, customer engagement management, content management and digital asset management to a single skilled player on the marketing team. 

Ideally, the marketing technologist will serve as the liaison with the tech management organisation and ensure that it implements the marketing tech stack successfully and in a timely manner.

Digital marketers will embrace ecommerce initiatives as core responsibilities. Marketing professionals will be pressured to deliver measurable business outcomes, driving the need to formalise the customers’ path from digital marketing engagement to purchase. We expect organisations in Asia-Pacific to drive this as the links between social media and ecommerce are stronger here, especially in countries like China where WeChat users are already the most active shoppers in the world. 

CMOs need to ensure that the marketing team delivers a consistent, unified and visible customer journey through digital touchpoints by enhancing both the ecommerce and mobile-commerce marketplaces with digital and mobile marketing capabilities, such as plugins for integration with social networking and user-generated content, as well as better-targeted promotions.

Mobile innovation to improve experience

Mobile services will increasingly disrupt more traditional cross-channel approaches. In growth markets like China, mobile services are expanding into office service delivery --— online to offline (O2O) — and this will continue into 2016 as customers demand a more seamless mobile-first and fully digital experience. In mature markets like Australia, brick-and-mortar retailers will quickly realise the limits of the ‘click-and-collect’ services that many have embraced to ensure continued in-store foot traffic, as customers are increasingly pulling out their wallets to shop online.

Digital wallets will also continue to gain traction as market leaders Alipay and WeChat Pay will fight to gain a larger share of the Chinese consumers’ wallet and conquer the offline space by expanding their ecosystem of merchants and enabling payments for their everyday activities. Outside of China, tech giants such as Samsung and Apple will also fight for a larger share of the consumers’ wallet, while many other players will jump on the mobile payment opportunity.

Forrester predicts that in the next 12 months, companies will have to bridge the divide between what digitally savvy and empowered customers want and how the companies serve them. Only agile organisations that are equipped with the right marketing technology will be able to win, serve and retain customers.

Clement Teo is senior analyst at Forrester Research


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