Smarter Ideas & Insights

The new way to measure progress? Change the paradigm

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The speed with which technology is changing is propelling CIOs and CMOs to work together. Leading-edge marketers realize that collaboration is the key to turning conventional thinking on its head and fundamentally re-imagining how we approach the changes we face today, in service of an empowered customer.

Katharyn White is Vice President of Marketing & Strategy for IBM Global Business Services.

We live in an era defined by change. Urbanization, globalization and digitization are reshaping our society and economy.

We can, and must change how we respond to these trends, adapt our approaches to take advantage of the opportunities they offer and tackle the challenges they bring. That’s why conventions we used to take for granted are being replaced by new perspectives. Old roles are being re-imagined. New kinds of partnerships are being forged.

It’s why we used to fix the basic systems that kept our communities running when they broke. Now we can anticipate problems before they show up. Law enforcement used to react to crime. Today, agencies can predict and prevent crime before it even happens. Buildings, considered dumb structures, are becoming living organisms that can alert us to where energy is wasted, becoming more efficient and sustainable.

And marketers? Well, they used to advertise to demographics, segments and regions. Women 18 to 49. Gen Y. Zip codes. Those were the broad insights that determined the shape and reach of a marketing campaign.

But now, marketers can connect with individuals one-on-one -- en masse. As people put their imprint on the world, sharing what they like, expect and think on Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube, leading marketers are sifting through data to piece together vivid pictures of each individual.

After all, social media, big data and analytics are just tools. It’s how they’re used that turns the status quo on its head, moving us from an old way of reacting to a new way of anticipating, marking a shift away from conventional thinking.

Rather than just counting the number of tweets or likes a product or service inspires, these forward-thinking marketers are layering on predictive analytics and creating marketing that’s less intrusive and more personal, which is something people welcome rather than resent.

Based upon what customers have bought, said and shared online, in stores and on their phones, marketers are building real relationships, figuring out the best way and time to reach out to each customer, and tweaking marketing campaigns as they roll out in response to customer reaction, rather than after the fact.

For Lee Jeans, analytics became the foundation of each customer’s online shopping experience. The apparel company pulled together all sources of data -- including information about best-selling items, current inventory, and customer comments on social networks -- so it could promote items based on their popularity and availability.

Underpinning this new approach to marketing is a partnership that’s being forged between CIOs and CMOs. As CMOs re-invent their role based upon technology, they’re relying more on the expertise of their tech departments to make sense of new innovations, create strategy, and make sure that the entire company, now almost entirely transparent to watchful consumer eyes, is true to the promise of the brand.

Little wonder. From digital marketing to mobile commerce to Web sites and social media, while not forgetting about in-store traffic and call center conversations, marketers are becoming inundated with data. Meantime, social media is morphing at warp speed. CIOs can’t afford to sit apart and try to battle test every technology a company adopts. Tech innovation and strategy reinvention on the fly are becoming the norm.

The speed with which technology is changing is propelling CIOs and CMOs to work together. Leading-edge marketers realize that collaboration is the key to turning conventional thinking on its head and fundamentally re-imagining how we approach the changes we face today, in service of an empowered customer.

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