Marketing is the New IT

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Historically, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has been focused on brand management and lead generation, not technology. But in the digital world that we now live in, technology-enabled marketing disciplines ranging from programmatic advertising and addressable TV to cross-device identification and real-time email personalization are forcing marketing leaders to live and breathe these new disciplines.

Marketing’s reliance on technology to connect more effectively with consumers helps explain the rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT), a new role that has emerged over the past few years that’s aimed at bridging the functions of the CMO and the CIO/CTO. The arrival of the CMT also speaks volumes about Gartner’s well-publicized and seemingly accurate prediction that the CMO will be spending more on IT than the CIO by 2017.

IT professionals learn marketingThat’s due in part to the fact that customers are generating torrents of data and sentiment in their interactions with companies across all channels including social media. Marketers are then using analytics tools to glean valuable insights from these interactions about a customer’s transaction history, lifecycle status, recent behaviors, intent, sentiment, and attitude to craft the right message at the right time to the right customer using the right channel.

It’s not just the volumes of customer data that are creating new opportunities for marketers to engage more effectively with customers; it’s also the velocity of data that’s coming into the enterprise from all touchpoints. Marketers’ ability to act on that data intelligently and in real time with a customer is critical because it can deliver impressive business results. A June 2015 study of 200 marketers conducted by Wayin found that 78 percent of respondents generated a revenue ROI of at least 50 percent in the past year on their real-time predictive analytics and marketing investments.

This ‘Fast Data’—=in-the-moment data that’s generated by customers using their mobile devices, connected devices via the Internet of Things, social media postings, and the web pages they’re viewing—can now immediately be gathered and acted on by marketers to interact with customers in time-sensitive situations. For instance, marketers can send a high-value customer who enters a retail store an offer to her mobile phone based on her most recent search and transaction history.

This need to analyze and act on data on the fly has heralded the creation of yet another role that’s vital to tech-dependent marketers: the Chief Digital Officer (CDO). The CMO or CMT can partner with the CDO to identify and capitalize on customer opportunities that can help marketers learn more about customers’ preferences, behaviors, and interests to segment them more effectively and to target them with precise messaging that can help strengthen engagement and conversion.

These new CDOs have help. Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are helping marketers make sense of the streams of customer data. They’re able to provide a holistic view of each customer, synthesizing data from multiple sources that often reside in inaccessible data silos (systems of record) inside an enterprise as well as external sources (systems of engagement), in order to enable the use of predictive analytics to determine the most effective messaging to provide a specific customer through the most appropriate touchpoint.

The beauty of these platforms is that they provide marketers with access to data in real-time, including data that's generated outside of the customer’s direct interactions with a company, thereby providing rich insights about a customer’s omnichannel journey. These insights, generated through the use of analytics tools, whether they be descriptive, predictive or prescriptive, can enable marketers to determine the next best action to take with a particular customer.

From Big Data to Fast Data

While these developments stand to revolutionize the way marketers engage customers, other exciting opportunities such as addressable TV and real-time email personalization are also on the rise. As we continue to push the boundaries of how customer data and technology can be used to engage with customers and deliver highly personalized and relevant experiences, the opportunities for the technology-enabled marketer seem limitless.

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