What Pushes Marketing Toward the Forefront of Digital Change?

Authored by Dominic James and Alex Shaida.

In this follow-up to our first blog on how “Marketers Must Understand Digital Transformation in a Modern World,” we’ll start to explore some of the underlying factors that are pushing marketing toward the forefront of digital change in organizations.

At the heart of it all is the fact that digital technologies don’t suffer from the same barriers to adoption that the innovations of yesteryear once had. This means that you no longer need to be a large corporate entity in order to function on the cutting-edge of marketing.

On the contrary, it’s even easier now for smaller businesses and even individual consumers to embrace new media. SMEs can enjoy and take advantage of the very latest technologies and tools that are readily available to them, especially as they are not being weighed down by incumbent legacy systems and resulting hierarchies and infrastructure issues that many larger corporations constantly face. Just as consumers have significantly altered living and working patterns in the past few years and have willingly embraced highly disruptive technological developments that affect how we interact with each other and spend our time, corporate marketers have had little choice but to try their best to change with us to stay relevant.

Since these changes in marketing have been largely driven by the short-term need to keep up with the consumer digital evolution, they have developed largely independent of any longer-term corporate strategy. The consequence is that marketing advancement and corporate development are rarely aligned, and where it does occasionally happen, it’s more often by some peculiar coincidence rather than part of a carefully planned series of actions.

There are many good examples today of marketing innovation that change the dynamics of corporate functions. All these changes further blur the lines of traditional corporate roles and steadily fuel the opportunity/potential for marketing to play a much more significant role in shaping an organization’s longer-term future. Three of the most significant opportunities we see marketers leading today focus around corporate culture, technology strategy, and product innovation.

Corporate Culture 

There’s now a massive overlap between internal communications and marketing, as employees receive their information from disparate public sources – they simply don’t wait for the chief executive’s email newsletter every month like they used to. Hence, marketing is playing a much more crucial role in the communications that help shape a corporation’s culture.

Technology Strategy 

Many technologies are consumer-first technologies that creep into corporations, e.g. smartphones, social networks, and Skype. This means marketing is now sitting at the forefront of technology adoption, and in many cases, in the position of leading corporate IT, and not just acting as a user of corporate IT services. This can also create friction between IT and marketing departments, which, when managed correctly, can be turned into a positive force and help to accelerate and improve the digital transformation process across the entire organization.

Products and Services

In our modern marketing world, where does marketing end and customer service begin? As customer complaints or compliments get increasingly aired in public spaces like Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, blogs, etc., they have become the domain of marketing teams. Similarly, this is also true with customer feedback versus product development.

An interesting observation for Asia is that these changes are equally valid if not even more pronounced across most of the Asian markets (both North and South). Usage figures are extremely high across most forms of social media consumption in Asia, and the adoption of the latest technology by consumers tends to be more active and frenetic than even the West. Asians are certainly not afraid to voice their opinions openly on customer service online, be it good or bad, and this can easily turn into a hotly debated topic or even a focal point for public ridicule and corporate shaming on the Web.

When you look at digital transformation holistically, the opportunity for -and expectations from – marketing people are actually quite enormous. The question for marketers to ask themselves in today’s rapidly evolving business climate is how can they adequately equip themselves to make the most of the fast-changing operating environment that they are caught up in?

ClickZ Training has recently launched its first course on “Marketing Challenges: Planning and Implementing Digital Transformation,” set to take place in Singapore from August 20-21, 2014.

ClickZ Training has also published a simple assessment survey tool that’s designed to provide you with a quick snapshot of how well your organization is currently adapting to digital change. To access this free and confidential survey, go to: http://www.clickztraining.com/digitaltransformation/sg/static/survey.

Dominic is based in Singapore and is a partner in The Change Effect, an Asia-based change leadership business. The Change Effect works with leaders of corporates, NGOs, and innovative start-ups on the challenging task of making great ideas a business reality. Dominic previously worked for top-tier management consulting firms Schlumberger Business Consulting and Deloitte Consulting. Before working in management consulting, he held senior strategy and analysis roles in CRM and digital marketing agencies. He led strategy and analysis for DraftFCB (an IPG company) in Asia-Pacific, and was a senior consultant for Ogilvy in New York. Dominic led digital marketing analytics for Ogilvy Interactive in London and was a senior analyst in OgilvyOne in London.

Alex is director, ClickZ Advisory & Training at ClickZ for Asia, and joined the company earlier in the year. Previously, he was vice president Asia for Econsultancy, and opened its first Asia office in Singapore for the region in 2012, after having worked as a senior client services advisor in London for three years providing training and consulting services for many leading U.K. and international companies, including DuPont, Vodafone, Lloyd’s Bank, Harper Collins, Hachette, Schneider Electric, UK Govt., Visa, Shure, TUI, Microsoft, and more. Alex has held several senior digital marketing and e-commerce roles in the U.K. prior to joining Econsultancy, and had a prior career in PR for leading tech and media brands including Microsoft, CSC, Cartoon Network, Carat, DTS, CIA Medianetwork, and more. He began his marketing career as a B2B marketer in the early ’90s.

Image via Shutterstock.

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