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PHOTO: Fachy Marín

"Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn and face the strange" ― David Bowie 

Deloitte calls it beyond marketing; Gartner, a new equilibrium; Forrester, moments-based customer experience (CX). However you slice it — change is coming to marketing and CMOs need to be ready. The triumvirate of rapid technology innovation, changing customer expectations and increasing privacy regulation is driving this change.

The analysts have some interesting and exciting things to say about this new future CMOs are facing.

CMOs Move 'Beyond Marketing'

In its "Tech Trends and Beyond" Deloitte posits that customer experience changes are forcing marketing to move beyond its traditional role of customer acquisition into one of “experience-based” marketing. This new role requires marketers to understand individual customer preferences and use analytics to surface behavioral context and determine the best way to engage.

Reading Deloitte’s definition of experiential marketing transported me instantly back to a conversation I had with a CMO in the mid-1990s. We were asking him to champion a customer relationship management (CRM) philosophy wherein the company would align customer information and technology with organization strategy, structure and culture so they could personalize individual customer interactions. His immediate and strong reaction to that was “heck no — the job of marketing is telling and selling, not bending our actions to the customer’s will.” With experiential marketing (which I think is simply customer experience embracing real-time analytics) we have come full circle from those early days: going from CRM resistance to CX acceptance.

What I really like about Deloitte’s view is its emphasis on the emerging partnership between the CMO and CIO. Because I don’t think you can get this done without strong collaboration between these groups. I drew some criticism from customer data platform (CDP) practitioners last year when I objected to the term “marketing-managed” in relation to CDP technology because developing and maintaining a comprehensive customer profile without IT help is impossible. That term has since been dropped from the CDP definition (thankfully), which is another sign that marketing is starting to embrace IT and vice-versa.

The industry recognition (both from within marketing and externally from the analysts) of the CMO-CIO partnership is very encouraging. It acknowledges the complexity of integrating first-, second- and third-party data with cognitive analytics and machine learning, and then deploying the results in real-time across all touchpoints. Deloitte highlights the three D’s in the technology infrastructure needed to master “beyond marketing.” These are:

  1. Data, which it tags as the starting point for all beyond marketing efforts. The ability to consolidate online data across devices with off-line historical purchase and behavior into a comprehensive customer profile is highlighted.
  2. Decisioning is the ability to use analytics and machine learning to augment rule-based decision engines and automate CX decisions, in real-time across all touchpoints. Deloitte highlights the need to expand these decisions beyond offers to include things like pricing and inventory management.
  3. Delivery takes the results of decisioning and integrates these into traditional CX, content creation and campaign management technology to ensure the continuous delivery of dynamic and contextually relevant experiences. Emphasis is placed on including all interaction channels — both digital and human-powered.

Related Article: Top CMO Challenges and Focus Areas for 2020

A CMO Balancing Act

In Gartner Predicts 2019, the research firm highlights the competing, almost conflicting demands that marketers face: consumers on one side who demand constant connection and accurate personalization, and regulators on the other who are launching a continuing wave of privacy regulations — both of which are changing the face of CX. 

Analyst Charles Golvin says, “recovering a modicum of equilibrium across consumer behaviors and technology innovation will require organizational alacrity, a laser focus on customer needs and a balanced embrace of automation.” Gartner further predicts balance will be gained only if marketers are prepared to:

  • Build a long-term quantifiable customer experience capability while delivering a visible, shorter-term business impact.
  • Deliver more personalized customer experiences that rely on increased automation.
  • Reduce customer churn by giving users more control, not less, over the data brands store about them and how they use that data.  

These steps will require both analytics and automation. So much so that Gartner has expanded the evaluation criteria for its Multi-channel Marketing Hub magic quadrant. It predicts that by 2020, more than 50% of deployed multichannel marketing hubs will include an AI component and that this sophisticated analytics capability will replace or compliment rule-based channel and offer selection based on an individual’s propensity to respond.

Related Article: The 4 Factors Defining Marketing's Future

Breaking the Campaign Stranglehold

Forrester, like Deloitte, suggests that the marketing role must change. It posits that “the convergence of customer expectations regarding brands, devices and touchpoints, and marketing capabilities makes the upshot clear: marketing and customer experience aren’t independent after all.” Brands must be able to evade the “stranglehold” of the campaign to instead engage customers in moments, moments that occur across the entirety of the customer lifecycle and throughout their journeys.

And like both Gartner and Deloitte, Forrester posits that technology must facilitate this by providing: a holistic customer data management strategy that enables insights and engagement; a robust identity resolution capability that combines digital activity with historical behavior; contextual relevant content, journey analytics and unified orchestration that empower cross-channel engagement.

Different presentations across the three, but radically similar conclusions.    

Related Article: The DNA of a Successful CMO

Decisions Change the Organization

Ending thoughts? Embrace the future because it will bring great things. Analytically powered and automated operational decisions driving CX, a strong partnership with IT and a laser-focused martech stack will drive the innovations marketers have been envisioning for years. And finally, the mantra that my company lives by:

“Data doesn’t change the organization. Decisions do. Every decision drives value — from big strategic choices to thousands of operational micro-moments. Success will come to those who can make the right decisions in the moment, for every moment, automating and scaling those decisions with powerful and trusted analytics.”