A recent study by Accenture found that just nine per cent of CMOs believe their business is currently ‘future-ready’, with operational maturity still an issue.
Having been bombarded with information about the importance of a data strategy for years, marketers have seemingly invested into these systems. And while this has brought the operational maturity of these organisations to a “stable, efficient or predictive”, very few are ready for the next chapter.
Speaking to B&T Accenture Australia & New Zealand managing director Nhung Mason [featured image] suggested the same digitisation that has helped marketers reach customers in new ways, is now also a challenge.
“Today’s marketers face more complexities and challenges than ever before,” Mason said.
“Where once marketers were charged with connecting with customers through a limited number of mediums, they’re now tasked with reaching customers across multiple platforms and channels, where they must align behaviour, messaging and execution, as well as creative and brand consistency—all through a dense and rapidly changing media ecosystem.”
Understanding marketing operations
While topics like personalisation and data-driven targeting are widely discussed in the marketing sector, marketing operations refers to the systems in place which enable these end results.
Businesses that create an efficient and effective ‘marketing machine’ will be the ones most likely to succeed in the coming years.
And while Australia has previously lagged behind when it comes to operational maturity, Mason has seen the pandemic kick the industry into gear.
“Australia has typically been slower in digital investment and hence slower in making changes to business operations to support scaled digital models,” she said.
“However, the pandemic has accelerated the need to do so and we have seen a rapid shift toward scaled agile models, product-based teams and investment in data and analytics.”
Getting automation right
When it comes to powering the ‘marketing machine’, there is arguably no technology more valuable than automation.
According to Accenture’s research, 63 per cent of organisations are currently in the ‘predictive’ stage (see below) – meaning they are leveraging advanced data science and analytics.
To move to being ‘future-ready’, businesses must be using diverse data to drive AI at scale.
For Mason, making this jump from predictive to future-ready is all about ensuring the right systems are in place.
“For marketing activations to succeed, the data behind them must be scaled, actionable and quickly accessible,” she said.
“Some marketers are still being limited by intermittent access to data and disjointed reporting from legacy resources.
“Future-ready businesses are using powerful analytics and AI at scale to collect intelligent insights from across their entire ecosystem, which then informs fast and effective decision-making across all business functions.”
Where to invest: People or tech?
Moving towards establishing a future-ready operations model undoubtably requires significant investment from these businesses, not only in the relevant technologies and systems, but also in the people tasked with leading this transformation.
So should deciosn-makers be prioritisng technology or people?
“I would have to say both,” said Mason.
“Good talent is fundamental to driving efficient and effective marketing operations and arming their employees with fit for purpose and innovative systems allows them to quickly augment and elevate their roles.”
There is also an element of here, where appropriate tech investments can help enable skill development among staff.
“Clunky and disjointed systems and data leave employees with time-consuming, low-value tasks – efforts that could be better spent on customer engagement strategies, experience design and generally more high-value activities,” said Mason.
“For effective human+machine collaboration in marketing, businesses should be investing in upskilling their marketing teams in new, but essential skills, such as the ability to derive insights and interpret data. These days, the skills we need in marketing go beyond the ability to respond to social media comments and create compelling content, but to train chatbots and AI to automate responses to customers.
“Automation can manage and improve administrative tasks like dashboarding and reporting, thereby driving efficiency while freeing human talent to pursue more complex, high-value work.”
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