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The internal obstacles to change in a digital world

CMOs feel the internal reality is their biggest obstacle to being able to really develop powerful digital strategies. Their biggest worry is the silo thinking within the company, the lack of internal skills to deal with a digital world and the commonly accepted opinion that complex challenges require rocket-science solutions (spoiler: they don’t).

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Marketing procrastination
A large majority of CMOs understand the value of customer-centric marketing but the task of getting their company on board seems daunting. Their internal dialogue is similar to this: “1-to-1 marketing means data. Data equals collecting data from hundreds of databases from different departments. This means it will be a big set-up, so I will have to ask IT to manage a complex CRM project. But I do not have the time for this. And they are probably fully booked too. Oh and what about the money? I will have to request new investments and the budget is already under pressure. I will have to convince the CEO and CFO that this is the only way forward. But they are still so conservative when it comes to digital. And where will I find the right people to manage all of this? I do not have the right people in my team yet. And what about my agencies? Our workflow has finally reached a good speed. Oh dear, maybe I should wait a few years before implementing our digital vision”.

Vendors tell you that you should combine all your data sources. Then wonderful magical things will be the result. CMOs often believe these stories because they cater to our fears of complexity.

Fairy tales and misconceptions
Most technology vendors will try to convince you that the only way to achieve real 1-to-1 marketing is to combine all the data sources within your company before you embark on any serious project. Then wonderful magical things will be the result. But sadly, you will need a year or more to set up the project. And it will cost you a lot of money.
CMOs often believe these stories because they cater to our fears of complexity. And these vendors have more experience with these processes. Correct? Wrong. The CMO knows his business, his products and his customers better than anyone. Vendors know their technology, period. Huge projects that take years to implement before delivering their first results are bound to fail. Moreover, did you know that most CMOs change jobs within 3 years? This means that you will never be able to see the results of a long set-up, and as a result you will not be able to showcase your business value either.
Silos and complexity
Marketing departments must create consistent, multichannel experiences that meet customer’s needs, expectations and demands for relevancy. But these departments are often built as silos: one team manages the website while another launches e-mail campaigns.
In order to address all the digital challenges CMOs are increasingly relying on external partners who are highly skilled to execute and deliver high-end digital experiences that support the increasing demand for profitable growth. Our experience shows that even the agencies are struggling with the technical demands of 1-to1 marketing automation. That is why a close collaboration between the CMO, marketing technologists and content agencies is vital for creating successful 1-to1 marketing automation. CMO’s must become experts in “rightsourcing”, which means insourcing external capacity and skills in function of changing needs.
Technology illiteracy
Marketing is rapidly becoming one of the most technology-driven departments in companies. Gartner Consulting predicted that by 2017, a company’s CMO would be spending more on technology than its CIO despite the fact that most CMOs are, at best “naïve when it comes to technology”. In order to properly manage this transition, companies must create a new role, namely that of Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT). His goal is to align the company’s marketing technology with its business objectives. This individual most definitely is a marketer, liaising with IT and technology providers. A CMT is part digital strategist, part creative director, part technology evangelist and change manager and teacher. He or she pushes for more experimentation, more agile management and an analytics driven decision model.

How so you solve a complex problem?
You divide the problem into various parts.

Start small and evolve on-the-go
What do you do when you try to solve a complex problem? You divide the problem into various parts, without losing sight of the final objective. This is much easier. As for the more complex parts, you will progressively tackle them after having solved the easy parts. The right methodology is critical for your survival. If you try to create customer journeys with a blueprint and “elephant” projects from the outset, you might end up with a “mouse” in terms of operability and return. We believe continuous technological agility and progressive building are the way forward for marketers. There are three crucial phases in an agile approach: agile customer journey management, agile building of marketing automation processes and agile marketing orchestration.