Innovating and pushing the boundaries of what is possible are part of the very fabric of the technology industry. There will always be new and exciting technologies and trends to explore. This is entirely as it should be. However, in order to gain value from groundbreaking technology and turn it in to something that will deliver significant improvement to their customers, it is vital that organisations strike the right balance.
By all means follow the latest predictions and set aside time and budget to innovate, but make sure the basic building blocks are in place too.
Over the last few weeks we have been sharing excerpts from our latest ‘Ask the Experts’ report, which outlines the key marketing and data technology challenges and opportunities facing organisations at the moment.
These can be summarised as:
1. GETTING THE BASICS RIGHT
When implemented and integrated correctly, marketing and data technologies have the potential to drive digital transformation, enable business intelligence, allow organisations to become truly data-led and ultimately transform customer experience for the better.
All too often, we see organisations either rushing to buy marketing and data technology, or investing in new technology, which then does not deliver on its promise or expectation.
Businesses need to ensure they have the basic building blocks in place in order to get real benefit from any technology they purchase. What is often overlooked is the hugely important role data plays. Nearly every new trend such as A.I, cognitive computing and IoT has data at its core. Sure, data is not as headline grabbing as the above-mentioned technologies, but none of them are possible without access to, and good integration between accurate and relevant data.
2. REAL-TIME DECISION MAKING FINALLY GETS REAL
While there was a huge amount of noise about real-time decision-making and real-time next best action marketing a few years ago, we haven’t as yet seen significant practical application of this technology.
This is set to change from 2017 onwards. Many organisations looked into or acquired technology to facilitate real-time when it first emerged as a leading trend, but it is only now that many are actually practically applying it.
3. TAKING STEPS TOWARDS COGNITIVE COMPUTING
The concept of cognitive computing and A.I has been much discussed recently, in the same way that real time marketing was a few years ago. While there have been a limited amount of practical applications of this technology to date, there is no doubt that the concept is set to dominate the landscape for some time.
The next few years will see organisations start to get to grips with what cognitive computing can offer. There are still fundamental kinks to be worked out, more fundamentally, though, businesses need to look beyond a ‘gimmick-led’ application of these technologies and instead investigate how it can be applied to actively improve personalised customer experience.
4. THE GROWING NEED FOR DATA MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE
Data management is a huge commodity. Proponents of data value management have long urged organisations to see data as a corporate asset and they are right.
Just like any asset organisations should attach cost and value to their data.
Yet how many organisations are actually doing any of this? Only a small minority of market leaders.
The majority only considers data in this way when a specific requirement rears its head. Often this will be a regulatory or technology driven change.
The temptation to wait until a project demands better data management is commonplace. But project thinking can mean data governance and lifecycle management processes happen in a 'siloed' fashion.
5. GETTING YOUR DIGITAL ESTATE IN ORDER
Organisations are still failing to fully understand their digital estates and the systems they already have. Many are fairly digitally mature, with estates that have grown at a rapid pace. Due to the particularly high turn-over in senior marketing roles, coupled with increasing marketing technology spend, businesses are likely to have multiple systems in place, which are not being utilised or integrated properly.
These ‘Frankenstacks’ of disconnected technology have developed for a number of reasons, primarily due to the fact that organisations have been working in silos for years. This creates a monster of parts, all probably very good in their own area but as a combination stitched and patched together and not always serving the common good.
However, in this age of the customer, consumers expect – in fact demand – a seamless, joined up, personalised experience. Something that is difficult to deliver in a disjointed digital estate.
By closely examining current marketing and data architecture, and the way systems, tools and data presently connect (or fail to connect as the case may be), organisations can gather a clearer idea of how to effectively join up and better manage a digital estate.