In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
Marketing’s emerging role as business change agent has been the headline subject of this year’s Adobe Summit. But while there are examples of marketing teams transforming how their organisations go to market, it’s equally clear that digitally-driven marketing is still in its early stages for many in the fraternity.
In a press briefing session discussing just how significant the transformation needs to be, Adobe CMO, Ann Lewnes, pointed out it’s the process changes required, rather than the technology, that are proving the biggest hurdle.
“The number one thing people want to understand is what implications are there beyond technology implementation, but that is just step one,” she said. “We talk to a lot of customers about the process changes required once you do put in place a digital marketing platform. You need completely different processes, as well as people who know how to use the technology and get the most value of it, can stress test it, and so on.
“People is one of the biggest obstacles we have. We need more practitioners, and more people who understand not just the technology but what to do with it, as well as the impact of that technology.”
Another core ingredient in getting digital marketing transformation underway is providing quantitative evidence of marketing’s impact on the bottom line, Lewnes said.
“That was the click for our company to make a big investment. Once you can do that – you can take baby steps. You can start with analytics, then put a CMS in place – there is a logical progression to this. We’d like people to buy everything in our platform, but we understand that in some cases, you need to get into this slowly. People, process and technology together is the formula.”
Of course, none of this will work without the must-have foundation of data, Lewnes said. For that, alignment with other business units such as IT is essential.
“The data synthesis and integration is not trivial,” she commented. “The alignment required by marketing, which used to be a siloed function, with IT, finance, general managers of business, and the sales organisation is huge.
“I would never have believed that getting that alignment was possible a few years ago. But there’s no way you can do this [digital transformation] without that alignment of data happening. Getting the data integrated is a huge undertaking but you can’t do this unless that happens.
“These things are so incredibly valuable that while it may take a lot of effort, it’s necessary. We are on the other side of this now and it’s mindboggling what the results have been.”
More from Adobe Summit 2015
- Adobe chief: Marketing now encompasses product creation
- How NAB, Time Warner cable are tackling digital change
- Adobe announces new Marketing Cloud partnerships with IBM, Accenture
- Adobe extends its Marketing Cloud to IoT and beyond
Nadia Cameron travelled to Adobe Summit 2015 as a guest of Adobe.