Data and Technology wishes for Marketing in 2017 | DMA

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Data and Technology wishes for Marketing in 2017

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Back in 2014 I penned a set of wishes for marketing technology in 2015 and since then, many of those wishes were answered (lets conveniently ignore the fact that two years have passed rather than one!). For example, Technology that put data management at the heart of their proposition got significant attention; the rise and rise of Data Management Platforms and Customer Data Platforms being evidence of this, along with marketing platforms continuing to acquire data plays, such as Salesforce buying Krux.

Similarly, analytics became a bit more accessible as machine learning and "cognitive" capabilities from the likes of IBM help to offset shortages in analytical skillsets, making data analysis a little more accessible to marketers. Also I hoped technologies would become more "open" and integration between different products from different vendors would be easier, enabling brands to get the best capabilities in each technology component and not have to sacrifice capabilities for "pre-integration", this is now exploding as a key capability area.

So, given the fact that the genie was happy to answer a least of few of my wishes, I figured I would pen three more for 2017 and see how they pan out.

1. Marketing, IT, legal and compliance teams will become more joined up and work in harmony, not in conflict.

I don’t think there have ever been four letters more bandied about and misunderstood as GDPR, which stands for the General Data Protection Regulation. Now, if you have been living under a rock for a couple of years you might have missed this, if so, head to the DMA’s GDPR site for the lowdown, but in effect, given the UK is now committed to complying with it, it is going to shakeup how we manage data about our customers and use it to deliver marketing experiences. GDPR has teeth, the potential financial penalties are huge, if you want to trade with Europe you need to comply or find yourself excluded from that market and if you are exposed as having failed in your duties, the reputational damage will be immense.

It also offers some benefits to marketers, it will force businesses to really look at their data and to creatively engage with their customers to maintain consent to contact, which means more engaging, relevant and interesting experiences. Which should, if well executed, deliver better marketing outcomes.

The key to success will be blending marketing, IT, legal and compliance expertise across the business to tackle this challenge. For that to work it means a common language, or translational service will be needed to ensure IT, legal, marketing and compliance drop the jargon and learn/understand what is important, perhaps this will lead to the rise of another Unicorn role or the evolution? It also means compromise between all parties and mutual understanding to be developed. If the genie grants this wish we may see companies actively getting on the front foot with GDPR, which is certainly not the case in 2016!

2. Customer Experience (CX) will become something more than another buzzword.

I think that one of the most overused terms in 2016 (based on no hard evidence I hasten to add) is "Customer Experience" which is the customers end to end journey with a brand, from the key points of interactions to the cumulative impact of multiple touchpoints over time. Marketing are being positioned in many cases as the owners of this end to end experience, with many industry commentators citing CX as the future of marketing, more important than price and product as key brand differentiators.

Despite this, the evidence of marketing changing to embrace CX is limited. Many brands still operate in product or channel silos, chasing metrics that are focused on optimising performance in discrete channels, rather than looking at the actual experiences delivered to the customer.

That’s why an individual brand can deliver a great experience in one channel (for example highly targeted and relevant emails) and yet deliver a very average and generic experience in another (for example completely irrelevant content presented on the website which introduces friction in the end to end experience).

For this to change, we need to see a cultural and structural shift in marketing. In 2016 I have seen some green shoots, from the appointment of Customer Experience "champions" who works horizontally across channel teams to ensure that the end to end experience is considered, through to full restructures where channel teams are replaced with product or journey centric cross functional teams that work towards a target experience or journey.

3. Technology vendors, agencies and "industry commentators" will stop talking in code.

Ok, here is the real impossible dream. My big wish for 2017 is that we all drop the hyperbole, the buzzword bingo, the vague promises that this service, product, concept is the best thing since sliced bread and we talk in plain English.

When we can get to the point where we talk the same language and agencies, technology vendors and marketers work in partnership to shared goals, that’s when marketing will really embrace the benefits from investment in data strategy and technology to deliver great customer experiences and truly understand what marketing initiatives are driving the best results. Alas, I feel this wish is one the genie may struggle to answer, although here at Occam we will strive to live up to this dream.

By Gary Arnold, Solution Strategy Director, Occam – a St Ives Group company

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