Will marketers seize the customer experience by 2020? 

Apparently, yes: 86 percent of 499 marketers surveyed by marketing automation provider Marketo predict they will own the end-to-end customer experience by 2020. 

We'll see.

For now, let's look back rather than forward, and check on how well we predicted the future four years ago. In 2012, marketers, analysts and research advisory firms seemed obsessed with mobile, digital advertising and the relationship between the CMO and CIO. 

While the latter conversation seems to have fizzled, mobile and digital certainly have not. Time to break out the Flux capacitor and travel back in time.

What We Predicted in 2012

Marketing, IT Not Aligned

CMSWire's David Roe, a story based on the IBM State of Marketing report 2012, noted that marketers were struggling to integrate channels, with mobile and social being particularly problematic.

"However," Roe wrote, "there is another problem and challenge that will occupy both IT and marketing department." Sixty percent of marketers argued that lack of alignment with the company’s IT department was making it difficult for them to achieve their goals and reach customers through new channels, including mobile.

Who was to blame? The department you weren't in, of course. 

"IT-bashing seems to be a regular past-time for marketing departments (of course many say the reverse is true)," Roe continued. "However, we are not here to defend either department, but simply state a fact which has been underscored again by IBM in this study: IT and marketing in many companies are not aligned."

2016 Reality: It feels like we're over that marketing and IT kumbaya thing, right? Four years later, it looks like we have addressed the C-suite disfunction. Or have we?

Digital Will Beat TV

Forrester Research, promoting its Leadership Forum, speculated that by 2016 digital marketing would make up more than 30 percent of total dollars spent on marketing and advertising in the US alone (as much money as is spent on TV today).  

2016Digital spending hasn't quite matched the TV monster. And it won't until next year, according to eMarketer, or even 2018, if you ask the American Marketing Association. So sit back and enjoy those Super Bowl Ads. They're not going anywhere.

Mobile Will be King

Forrester researchers Ted Schadler and John C. McCarthy, in a report on mobile, predicted mobile would dominate everything by 2016.

"It’s not just a phone," we wrote four years ago, "not just a smaller screen, and not just an extension of one’s personal computer. No, mobile is the flash point for a much more holistic, far-reaching change. And with it, brings a perfect storm of mobile, social, cloud, and big data innovation to deliver apps and smart products directly in the context of the daily lives and real-time workflows of customers, partners, and employees.

"... Marketers and CIOs need to start preparing for a world in which: Customers interact directly with the organization in their moments of decision. Partners employ tools in the context of their daily workflow. Employees work, collaborate, and make key decisions anywhere on any device."

2016: Yes! Wait, no?

Predictions Came True

Marketo CMO Sanjay Dholakia

We asked Sanjay Dholakia, Marketo's CMO, to harken back to 2012. Then, he said, marketers began to sense the forthcoming "power shift" from the seller to the buyer.

Turns out, they were right. The buyer's in control now.

"I remember in 2012 people were saying with all the new social, mobile and digital technology we think fundamentally the way people buy things and interact with brands is going to change dramatically," Dholakia said. 

"That was the big prediction. Marketing in 2012 was very much about defining the customer experience journey and pushing messages to people according to where we think people are."

Now, the technology has advanced to this: We know who the people are.

2020 Talk

To predict what could happen in the next four years, Marketo worked with The Economist Intelligence Unit for the second straight year. Of the 499 survey respondents, more than 50 percent hold the CMO title or top marketing position. Respondents were located in North America (27 percent), Europe (30 percent), Asia-Pacific (36 percent) and elsewhere (7 percent). About 52 percent hail from companies with more than $500 million in revenue.

Last year, marketers felt their organizations needed to undergo a dramatic shift to keep up with increasing technological and consumer demands. But the 2016 report optimistically predicts marketers will  control of CX by 2020.

"With billions of interactions, you have to have a single customer record," Dholakia told CMSWire in an interview this week. "You cannot succeed in the new marketing world without that single record."

Other findings included:

  • More than half of respondents believe the accelerating pace of technological change, mobile lifestyles and an explosion of potential marketing channels via the Internet of Things (IoT) will change the field the most by 2020
  • By 2020, marketers expect they will increasingly interact directly with their customers through technology and personalization as opposed to indirectly through media and advertising
  • The top channels to the customer in 2020 will be social media (63 percent of respondents), the internet (53 percent), mobile apps (47 percent) and mobile web (46 percent)
  • Mobile devices and networks (59 percent), personalization technologies (45 percent), and IoT (39 percent) are the three technology-specific trends that will have the biggest impact on marketing organizations by 2020

"I've often said marketing's changed more in the last five years than in the last 500," Dholakia said. "This study says, 'You think that was a lot of change? You ain't seen nothing yet.' The next five years are going to be stunning in terms of the complexity and the challenge because of this explosion in IoT and billions of points of interaction."