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.
Marketing teams must undergo a restructure in the next five years to bring in the necessary operational, data and technology skills needed for future customer engagement.
According to a new survey of 478 senior marketers and CMOs globally conducted by The Economist Unit, and sponsored by Marketo, 81 per cent of marketers believe their organisation will need to change dramatically to cope with increased technical and consumer demand and support the business. Twenty-nine per cent believed the need for change is already urgent.
There is a way to go, however. Just over two-thirds of global marketers said their company views the marketing function as little more than a cost centre, a figure that rose to 70 per cent in Asia-Pacific. However, over the next 3-5 years, marketers expect four out of five companies will classify the marketing function as a revenue driver.
Owning customer experience will be catalyst for this transformation. While about a third of marketers are currently managing customer experience, 75 per cent expect to be responsible for the customer’s lifetime end-to-end experience over the next 3-5 years.
Technology was seen by respondents as the key facilitator for achieving this. Although less than half are using data to gain insights and engage customers today, 81 per cent anticipate they will be utilising data to make connections with customers in the next 3-5 years. Eighty per cent also expect to rely on technology to engage customers in a conversation to build advocacy and trust over the same timeframe.
The global report found core technology investments over the next 3-5 years are social marketing, mobile marketing and marketing analytics. In Asia-Pacific, advertising management, marketing resource management and content marketing were also ranked higher priorities than those in other regions.
In addition, 39 of global marketers said businesses need to develop stronger skillsets in digital engagement, and marketing operations and technology, followed by strategy and planning (38 per cent). Rounding off the top five wishlist is data analysis, and demand generation/customer acquisition.
Acquiring these appropriate skills was a top area of investment for 30 per cent of Asia-Pacific respondents over the next 12 months, double that of marketers in North American (15 per cent). The top two challenges noted by regional marketers are budget and customer acquisition.
When asked to define customer engagement, marketers overwhelmingly chose customer renewals, retention and repeat purchases (63 per cent), followed by brand awareness (22 per cent) and to a lesser extent, the impact on revenue.
“The transformation taking place in marketing is profound as marketers race to adopt technology and add skills that will allow them the entire relationship with the customer,” Marketo CMO, Sanjay Dholakia, said.
“Three out of every four marketers say that in three to five years, they will own the end-to-end customer engagement. That ownership puts marketing right at the centre of revenue generation and setting the company strategy.”