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Through the looking glass

The digital revolution has forever changed the balance of power, putting customers in control. They confuse us with their digital choices, tease us with their online preferences and flummox us with their ability to make instant buying decisions online. In the digital age, marketing initiatives must be backed by reams of relevant data about customers. Data that must correlate dynamic customer choices, map their digital choices and create digital heat maps almost instantly. Are CMOs equipped to run this fast with the dynamic landscapes? Big Data, Analytics, Cloud, Social Media – these words have ceased to be mere buzzwords and now find a huge mandate in the CMO’s playbook, as key to staying relevant. Age old media ratings have given way to unique digital footprints.

The CMO imperatives have changed around- how do you work with the CIO to determine what technologies you need to invest in now.? The CMO needs to find answers to these questions to continue to stay relevant.

So is technology here to stay? What does this mean us as CMOs? How do we brave this whole new world? How do we market in the technology era? For a marketer who straddled the pre digital era and is still unravelling the digital technology maze, I can tell you it pays to:

Be Aligned.

How closely the CMO is aligned to the larger business goals, determines to a large extent investments in marketing technologies that impact funnel management, employee productivity and customer connect. It is not a question of whether you need X technology or Y application. It all depends on the business objectives you are trying to achieve.

Be involved.

Many CMOs continue to focus on overall marketing budgets and leave the technology decisions to the CIO. Technology is imperative but not at the cost of understanding how our differently our customers respond to technology. For instance when our company’s agents, interact with our customer’s customers, the younger set consumers can readily accept non -invasive technology intrusions in their interactions, whereas some of our customers who are in the middle age bracket still prefer a voice based interactive communication with a real person behind the phone. Understand where your customers are. Understand how they like to be sold. That is critical and it brings me to another interesting aspect of selling in the digital era- culture

Know your audience.

Very often CMOs tend to get swayed by the glamour of new technologies or the latest “cool app” to have. While the age of the digital marketer means CMOs need to always be one step ahead as far as technology adoption goes, it cannot be at the cost of ignoring what our customers want. Different strata of internal and external customers use technology differently or respond to it differently. Often cultural preferences, choice of interaction channels and ease of technology adoption varies across a global customer base. It will be suicidal to paint them all with a single brushstroke. Different strokes for different folks is often the rule of the game provided CMOs have enough insights that their big data and social media engagement channels throw up.

Make the CIO your tech buddy.

Let me admit it - I am not the most up to date when it comes to the latest technology advancements. But I know my CIO certainly is. It pays to have a CIO on your side who understands your imperatives and is able and willing to help you navigate the maze of apps and infrastructure world to help you achieve your goals.

In this age of collaboration, CMOs who earlier worked closely with the CEO and CFOs must now make time and space for their latest ally- the CIO. Technology has become the looking glass through which CMOs view and gain many insights-customer behavior, preferences, choices, and of course the cost of providing those choices. Let us not allow technology to scare or scar us. Technology is what will help us get to that somewhere else. Let’s run.

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