Martech Europe 2016 – Top 5 Takeaways
Martech Europe 2016 took place this November 1-2 in London, U.K. Over 500 Marketing Executives and some of the best Industry’s experts met to share best practices, innovative projects and reflect on where the Digital transformation of client’s experiences is leading us. Akuting was there and is proud to provide you with this summary of Martech Europe 2016 Top 5 Takeaways.
Accelerating waves of change
Scott Brinker, Martech Conference Chair, best known for being the creator of the insane Marketing Technology Landscape chart, kicked off the conference by presenting the State of Marketing Technology. Since Scott started to survey and document the Marketing technology landscape, the number of solutions available to marketers grew from about 150 in 2011 to over 3,800 five years later. There is no doubt that this exponential growth can make the life of modern marketers difficult, as the abundance of choice increases opportunities but also generates integration and sustainability risks.
According to Scott, the growth in the number of available solutions is only a reflection of the steady transformation of the buyers’ journey in the digital world. More and more buyers are using digital platforms and social media to educate themselves about potential solutions that could help meet their business needs, evaluate candidate vendors and perform online transactions. They also expect to be served conveniently via their mobile devices. Software vendors have responded by launching innovative solutions marketers can use to catch up to their client’s needs.
Jason Heller, Global Lead, Digital Marketing Operations at McKinsey Consulting brought a complementary perspective; As Growth will always remain a top priority for CEOs, any innovation which can support this growth will be highly valued and will attract Capital and Investments. This is what recently occurred with digital marketing technologies. These solutions enable organisations to accelerate their growth by delivering personalised experiences to their clients through enhanced targeting and optimisation of paid media and owned channels. To deliver these experiences, organisations must now build an infrastructure, based on the “four Ds”;
- Data – Customer data platform aggregating data from different systems
- Decisioning – Analytics models scores propensity for segments to convert or up-sell
- Design – Managing the content, offers, and experience the customer receives
- Distribution – Delivering personalised experiences across multiple channels
As we witness the digital transformation of the buyers’ journeys, we are facing an acceleration in the pace of introduction of Marketing technology, as depicted in the following illustrations:
This can represent a serious challenge for many companies. Technology now changes at an exponential rate, but organisations can only change at a logarithmic rate.
To sustain this pace of change, and to successfully adapt to their client’s expectations, Sales and Marketing organisations must imperatively develop new organisational capabilities and adopt change management processes.
Digital Business Agility as the key to success
Michael Wade, professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD presented a model to help companies deal with disruptive competition. This model is based on his co-authored book, Digital Vortex. According to this model, Digital Business Agility emerges as the primary competitive advantage. Strategy remains relevant, but as business cycles shorten and disruptive change transform many industries, Business Agility is the new differentiator. Companies can build this agility by developing teams who master three key capabilities;
- Hyperawareness – A company’s ability to detect and monitor changes in its business environment, including insights on its clients, competition and employee
- Informed Decision-making – A company’s ability to make the best decision in a given situation, based on collaboration and the use of real data
- Fast Execution – A company’s ability to carry out its plans quickly and effectively, by putting decisions into practice rapidly, mobilising resources dynamically and continuously monitoring progress
Faced with the acceleration of changes, leading Marketing teams are shortening their planning and execution cycles and are developing fast execution capabilities by adopting the Agile methodology, which has proven to deliver value for many software development teams. According to CMG Partners, “Agile Marketing drives long-term Marketing strategies with short-term, customer-focused iterative projects that improve responsiveness and relevance. It allows for faster creative, more testing, smarter improvements and better results.”
Since he joined Mindree Ltd in 2013 as SVP&CMO, Paul Gottsegen conducted a significant transformation of Mindtree’s Marketing Team. According to Paul, having the right technology is important, but the key to success lies in building a team of “modern sales marketers.” The traditional distance between Marketing and Sales Teams must be bridged; for an organisation to succeed in interacting with its clients seamlessly across their purchasing process, Marketing and Sales teams must work as an integrated team. This includes, amongst other things, hiring tech-savvy Marketers, sharing and automating processes and information between Marketing and Sales, making sure everyone uses the same terminology and implementing integrated Performance Metrics for measuring performances.
Jeremy Waite, Evangelist at IBM, warned about the risk of getting distracted by ever-changing technologies and trends. Before engaging in any programs, organisations must be clear on why they want to undertake change, then define how they want to achieve this change and then only consider what they can specifically undertake to achieve their objectives.
Emergence of Marketers’ left brain
Nick Worth, CMO of Selligent explains that the current average human attention span is about 8 seconds. An increasing number of emails are processed by potential clients via mobile devices, in-between tasks. Marketers are therefore competing for attention in a world of Continuous Partial Attention. Particular attention must then be invested in creating digital assets that perform well because they are convenient, valuable and relevant.
Marketers have historically been known for their creativity. They have been used to “make things look nice”. As Marketers now have the ability to use digital channels to communicate directly with their clients and prospects, they can test multiple versions of their offerings at a fraction of yesterday’s cost. Days of expensive pre-launch market research and focus groups are gone. Market leaders will instead continuously test variants of their web pages, emails, on-line ads and landing pages, with a limited sample and a control group. They can continually learn from these micro-experiments so that they can improve the performance of their digital assets.
Colin McFarland, Head of Experimentation at Skyscanner provided a convincing demonstration. His organisation continuously increases the number of experiments they run on their digital assets to optimise performance. Their moto is “Design like you’re right, but Test like you’re wrong”. Under this discipline, the design of their website has progressively evolved, each experimentation enabling the organisation to adopt the version that performed the best with users.
Marketing organisations must develop this culture of continuous experimentation and data-based decision making.
Integrated Marketing Suites vs. Best of Breed
As we have seen earlier, there is an overwhelming number of solutions available to modern marketers. Amongst this list, four large vendors have emerged and are now leading the industry by offering integrated cloud-based marketing suites. Adobe, Marketo, Oracle and Salesforce.com, despite their different starting points, are each in a position where they can now claim the ability to offer an integrated Marketing Cloud, which promises to solve integration and usability challenges.
Theresa Regli, a Principal Analyst at Real Story Group, brought some nuances to this pledge of seamless integration. Marketing Executives must understand that the vast majority of these comprehensive suites have been built through acquisitions. Even though one organisation would use multiple modules of the same suite, this organisation would need to invest in the configuration and integration of these modules.
Theresa also warned the audience about the shame of feeling behind their industry. When you spend time speaking with consultants and vendors, it is easy to think you are falling behind. In reality, based on Real Story Group research, most Marketing organisations would assess themselves as relatively immature, and only 37% of enterprises think they are leveraging the full potential of their existing marketing software.
Theresa also provided a recommendation that was shared by some presenters; “Organisations should de-couple data from engagement systems.” Integrated Marketing Clouds have appeal, but one must remain cautious to maintain control over their data.
Organisations looking to expend their capabilities and augment their Marketing Technology Stack should therefore not be afraid to consider best-of-breed solutions, as long as there is a transparent integration path. We are moving into a world of interconnectivity via Public APIs, as demonstrated by this illustration. Marketers must build their Marketing Stack using open technologies.
One option to consider is open-source solutions. Open source dominates the Operating Systems (Unix) web server and Content Management Systems (WordPress and Drupal), but has had limited success at the application layer. As demonstrate by Scott Brinker, we are now witnessing an emergence of open-source Marketing solutions that are worth exploring.
Top Trend for the Future? Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence has been identified by Jeremy Waite and Tom Smith, Product Marketing Lead at Saleforce.com as their priority regarding R&D as part of their Marketing offering. IBM has many offerings built on Watson, its proprietary Artificial Intelligence technology, and Salesforce.com recently joined the exclusive group of Artificial Intelligence providers when they launched Einstein in September 2016. On November 4, Adobe followed as they launched their own Artificial Intelligence tool – Sensei. We can expect, over the next few years, an increasing number of tasks and Analysis, traditionally managed by humans, to be performed by algorithms. The recent emergence of chat bots performing customer service functions is a good example. It may finally be Artificial Intelligence who will help organisations to manage this additional complexity.
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