Driving marketing through tech and organisational change

Marketers could benefit from having a full time “marketing technology solutions assessor” to help them navigate, and make sense of the many technological solutions out there.

The off-the-cuff suggestion was mooted by Todd Kurie, the vice president of marketing at RedMart who attended an informal closed-door group discussion on some of the issues that modern marketers face.

“We are looking for more real time one-on-one conversations with our customers. There are definitely solutions out there,” noted Kurie, pointing to the myriad of offerings that marketers are inundated with. “It becomes very, very difficult to identify a solution. How can they work together, how do they work, how do we knit them together?”

Indeed, there are 5,000 marketing technology companies by some estimates, and the list is growing at a rate of a thousand per year, according to Simon Bowker, the area director at Teradata’s Marketing Applications Business Unit in the Asia Pacific. Bowker cited the figures as he shared about how marketers he had spoken to were feeling slightly overwhelmed by the sea of acronyms and buzzwords.

Todd Kurie, Vice President, Marketing, RedMart


Making sense of the technology

The number alone shows that the problem of technology overload is not an imaginary one. But what are some strategies that marketers can adopt to better make sense of the technology? Unsurprisingly, the general consensus was that CMOs should take the initiative rather than waiting for the CTO or CIO to make the first move.

“There’s talk of building your own CTO organization to support you,” noted Kurie. “I think there’s so many new answers to marketing technologies now, if you hope that your CTO is going to solve them for you, you’re never get there.”

“The way I solve the problem is to just test as much as possible. If there are five [solutions] out there, test it out, see what works,” suggested Kaushal Bhalotia, the head of online marketing for Zalora Group. “Have a very small test budget, make them prove the value. Why should I do all the hard work? Let the data speak. That’s what we’ve found with the partners we work with, and it has been a revelation.”

Of course, an increased reliance on external technologies does bring its own set of risks. Specifically, there is no way to know when a marketing solutions company would suddenly decide to call it quits, or to dramatically alter the nature or scope of their offerings. Bhalotia himself admitted that he had already experienced three separate platforms that got acquired or had a new major investor, after which they quickly “went South”.

Forging a relationship between marketing and IT

As it is, there was a general consensus among participants that a strong relationship between marketing and IT can be pivotal to pulling off successful marketing initiatives. Given the historical IT-support-only relationship between CMOs and CIOs, active collaboration between them is still very much a new phenomenon for businesses. Yet an absence of collaboration would likely result in a much more challenging environment, however.

Alluding to the fact that most CMOs are required to be more technology-savvy these days, Lee Joon Seong, the managing director of Accenture Digital noted that this means CMO has to be ‘the best friend’ of the various C-level executives, especially those in technology and data: The CIO, the Chief Digital Officer, and the Chief Data Officer.

“To be effective CMOs need to operate in the intersection of business and technology. You need to work with the CIO and the 2 CDOs such that they can better understand your needs and therefore enable you more effectively,” he said. And while Lee agrees with the notion of trials, he also suggested that organizations will do well to take a step back and adopt a fresh look from the perspective of desired business outcomes.

Round table discussion in progress