Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
A lack of appropriate skillsets and siloed organisational structures are inhibiting several Australian companies from achieving their customer-led marketing ambitions.
Speaking on a customer panel at the Oracle Marketing Cloud event in Sydney, Network Ten director of commercial, business development and CRM, Martyn Raab, cited availability of human resource as one of the two key internal obstacles hindering his ability to be a modern marketing organisation.
“We are a very lean organisation and we don’t have a massive department, so this requires us to automate processes,” he told attendees. “We can’t afford to have 10 people focusing on different channels.”
The second challenge is integration between channels and lines of communication. “This is becoming more complex and we need to deliver consistent experiences,” Raab said. “This takes money and resource and is an area we’re struggling with.”
American Express head of global digital marketing, Jeffrey Evans, agreed skillset was a core challenge, adding that his team is working closely with the HR department as well as endeavouring to elevate its position internally and externally as an innovative and digital-led company in order to attract talent.
But he also found the siloed nature of his organisation as a stumbling block to achieving consistent customer experiences.
“Who owns the data, the relationship with the customer, what are the key touchpoints and where are they managed?” Evans asked.
At Telstra, top internal challenges include data and automation as well as managing competing workloads, its general manager of customer communications, Keiron Devlin, said.
“Whether it’s the NBN, or fixing up a process, there are a lot of competing priorities internally,” he commented. “Where you need to find data, and make decisions in terms of what you’re doing for a customer, is also really challenging. While it’s there, we still don’t have access to a lot of data.”
Devlin said content, and having a consistent conversation with a customer irrespective of who they are or their lifecycle stage, was another hurdle. “From our point of view, it’s about that value chain, needing the right people and investment to support that and support our aspirations,” he said.
Bringing marketing and IT together
All three panellists shared the steps taken to bring IT and marketing functions into alignment within their organisation. At AMEX, the relationship had once been “adversarial”, Evans admitted.
“Now IT is the first group in the room, with a seat at the table,” he said. “There were two things that changed that. The first was speaking a common language – marketing has to understand the key drivers for technology, and vice versa.
“And when we invited IT in with us as we started talking and developing strategy, that’s where a big change occurred.”
Evans said AMEX established a business IT aligned roadmap last year, helping the organisation better invest and deploy resources. This will be revised in coming weeks and continues to ensure the technology team has a hand “at the wheel”, he said.
Telstra’s lead for customer marketing, Nick Adams, describes his function as a technology driven organisation and Devlin explained one of the ways it ensures this is through strong relationships with technology partners.
“We also have a facilitation group that sits between IT and marketing and that focuses on IT roadmap discussions, prioritising investments and so on,” he said. “It’s very integrated and we’re aware of the role they play.
“It about putting people in the middle to navigate.”
Network Ten has moved on from IT pushing a solution, to a more collaborative arrangement between technology and line-of-business teams, Raab said. “Digital and IT now sit together, and IT is really executing against those requirements,” he added.
Modern marketing methods
Panellists were also asked the practices they currently engage in that they didn’t prioritise or consider five years ago. All cited a switch from ‘batch-and-blast’ to increasingly targeted customer communications.
“The thing that’s changed the most is that gut feel has now left the room,” Evans continued. Devlin added he’s also spending a lot more time with data analysts, trying to interpret data and apply those lessons to how his team markets to customers.
“Five years ago, I don’t think I had a conversation with a data analyst,” he added. “Or we briefed them, and they cut a list for us to send an email to. This was being done for every segment, every channel and group. Often those communications competed with one another and created a horrendous experience for the customer.”
Raab said the other big change has been the constant measurements and checks marketers put in place around everything they do.
“Before we’d see some results and then move on – now, it’s about an ongoing relationship with that customer,” he said.
Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu