As marketers, customers are in our direct line of sight and we know them far beyond demographics or numbers on a spreadsheet. Technology has allowed us to gain a greater understanding of them as humans and provided us with the ability to tune the buying experience to achieve business outcomes.
Today, every organisation is transforming itself and becoming software-defined, hoping to gain differentiation with technology. As marketing leaders, we’re in a unique position to influence the transformation of not only marketing but the organization as whole. In my experience, a base-level understanding of technology concepts that impact marketing is imperative for this.
With that in mind, here are my tips on how we can do more:
1. Understand the power of multiple clouds
Research shows that organisations currently use an average of eight clouds for a variety of applications, with marketing applications making up a significant proportion of this. While IT infrastructure solutions remain the forte of CIOs and CDOs, it is important that we have a knowledge of aspects related to marketing.
There is no denying that cloud solutions give us new ways to engage customers and present our offering, while also helping us better manage costs, customer demands and data security. What is maybe less widely acknowledged is how important the cloud can be during times of peak demand.
BookMyShow, a company in India that offers online ticketing and entertainment booking services, has adopted a cloud approach that allows it to scale up its online ticketing capacity during a blockbuster movie sale and then scale requirements back when ticketing slows.
If you’re in consumer-packaged goods, have brick-and-mortar outlets, or manufacture seasonal products, you’re aware of the significant spikes in activity throughout the year. Having a flexible, scalable cloud strategy will ensure that your online presence remains up and running, and you gain maximum reward from your marketing efforts.
2. Reinvent the customer experience for IoT and wearables
Over the last decade, marketers have drastically adapted their programmes to react to the single most transformational device of the last 40 years: the smartphone. As a result, the consumer experience both in B2C and B2B has been completely reinvented.
We are now expecting the IoT and wearables market to grow to about $520 billion in 2021, more than double what it was in 2017. The rise of sensors, smartphones, smart TVs, smart speakers and beacon technologies in our homes, workplaces and public spaces means customers now engage with brands through many endpoints. While this presents a challenge of tailoring product and brand messages, it also provides an unprecedented opportunity to learn how our customers behave, buy and consume.
3. Make use of AI for more influential marketing
AI is already being used by leading organisations to leverage big data analysis of customer consumption patterns. For instance, Netflix analyses large amounts of data to determine patterns and trends, and delivers each user a view that is personalised to them. This type of application is becoming increasingly common across retail and media industries, and it’s being adopted by B2B organizations too. For example, predictive tools can give early insights into potential issues and deliver personalised proactive support .
From 2010 to 2018, AI-based marketing patents represented the fastest growing global category, surpassing digital security and mobility. A growing repertoire of AI tools is empowering marketing teams with more relevance and control over lead generation and content creation. Audience targeting and segmentation, search, social listening, and predictive analytics are some of the areas we should look at immediately. Although 35% of CMOs are already using or testing AI solutions, others should pay careful attention and not miss the bus.
4. Protect customer and enterprise data
Brand reputation and customer trust is the cornerstone of every business. New data legislation such as GDPR is reshaping the way in which data is handled, with CMOs in Australia (63%), China (53%) and Japan (47%) believing it will make it harder to build direct relationships with consumers. Now more than ever, marketers need to know where customer data is stored and, very importantly, how securely. With the multitude of platforms and tools we now utilise, it’s important to ensure any third parties and agencies apply the same level of security policies.
To make this possible, marketing leaders must be well-versed in the vocabulary of their IT peers. Network segmentation, device-to-device authentication and encryption techniques, when implemented well, support the marketing and brand function, and give peace of mind that campaign and customer data is secure at every touchpoint.
CMO as influencer
Today’s CMO must work cross-functionally like never before—with product development, sales, IT and finance—to orchestrate digital transformation. In fact, nine in 10 organisations already view the CMO as the connective tissue between different lines of business. The good news is that CMOs and marketing teams don’t have to go it alone. There are natural synergies between IT and marketing, and close collaboration with your CIO is quite possibly the best place to start. From there, you can collectively influence the rest of your C-suite into joining you among the ranks of the fully fledged digital transformation pioneers.
 CMO from IDG, State of the CMO 2018: Marketers own CX and digital. June 2018.
 Dentsu Aegis Network, CMO Survey 2018: How brands win the digital economy. 2018.