The Challenges of Marketing Automation
Don’t worry, it won’t get this complicated. geminidustin / CC BY 2.0
This is the last in a series of excerpts from The Marketing Consigliere’s white paper Net-Centric Marketing & Information Superiority.
The Challenge for Today’s Marketer
The speed to react to an ever changing and volatile global business environment requires technology to aid the Marketer in sorting through terabytes of constantly flowing and archived data, prioritizing that data, and distilling the actionable intelligence that needs to be shared with the proper enterprise stakeholders such as sales and product development.
Net-Centric Marketing is more than just the behavioral or contextual serving of ads, or speeding purchase transactions, or even the monitoring of social network activity on interconnected computers; it is more than a dry acronym describing the intangible components of a managerial system. It is a way of thinking of all a market’s sources of information and all the touch points with a customer or other stakeholder, whether these sources or touch points be geospatial, virtual, or sequential. It allows the Marketer to extend the network to interoperable nodes or devices over time.
However, the underlying technology is only an enabler, and the key to Net-Centric Marketing is not merely acquiring and deploying technology, but changing the behavior of individuals and organizations who would benefit from it. Today’s Marketer has enough of a challenge merely obtaining budgetary approval for traditionally marketing activity; adoption of new technologies will widely be perceived as risky endeavors, and without clear ROI paths defined, explained, or guaranteed, many Marketers will be denied the proper investment that would transform an firm into a Net-Centric Marketing organization.
Even with the blessing and financial support of executive management, such transformation will be a slow and painful process; budgets will be exceeded and expectations will not be initially met, much like many IT projects. However, the pain of change will not be as great as the pain of not changing. Someone else in the arena will weather the storm, and ultimately the firm that best gathers, stores, analyzes and shares data within the enterprise to discern and act upon actionable intelligence will be at a significant strategic advantage.
Net-Centric Marketing may sound like something reserved only for the Global 1000 or other large organization that has legions of marketers with IT and statistical backgrounds and large budgets. Far from it. As disparate data becomes more coordinated online, or easier to categorize and access although offline, whether due to a commercial effort or social network, the overall long term cost of that data will decrease and thus more firms (read: smaller firms) will be able to utilize it.
In a case of advertising, for example, once again imagine that blimp over a stadium at a an event, monitoring the game and knowing there were 5 minutes left and the stadium concessions’ pizza was sold out, so it more frequently displays an ad of a nearby restaurant that specializes in pizza; the advertiser did not need to own and control the entire network; it just needed access to a portion of that network when certain business rules or situational criteria were met. It didn’t need to own the “Sensor;” it just needed to be with the “Shooter.”
Having an Industrial Age cultures does not work well in the Digital Age, and there are even superficial Information Age mentalities which will resist these concepts due to fear of change, lack of strategic competency, and ultimately a deficiency in the will to win the “battles” in a capitalistic arena. The Marketers that are better at gathering, processing, sharing, and acting upon the various types of data that make up a market segment’s information ecosystem will fare better than those that don’t perform those activities as well.
And Net-Centric Marketing, the increasingly unified system that bridges various sources of information and customer touch-points, is the way that will best make a Marketer “victorious” in their “battles.”
There are many more elements to C4ISR or Net-Centric Marketing, each of which could be put forward in a lengthy volume. However, the purpose of this whitepaper is to submit the concept of C4ISR or Net-Centric operations as already validated in one arena and therefore may be suitable and appropriately applied to the Marketing function of an organization, thus creating a C4ISR or Net-Centric Marketing organization that achieves informational superiority over its competitors.
That is the cornerstone to being a Net-Centric Marketing organization; information superiority is attained by creating the infrastructure that efficiently moves the right data from the right sources to the right elements within the organization that can act upon that data in ways that drive revenue.
The time to be developing C4ISR or Net-Centric Marketing culture is now and organizations need to thoroughly plan how to give employees the tools and motivation to work Net-Centrically. There will be dead ends and mistakes along the way towards such revolutionary business transformation, but remaining passive will place an enterprise in a strategic disadvantage compared to competitors that make the investment.
Transformation to a Net-Centric Marketing organization will benefit employees, and ultimately customers, investors, and other stakeholders in that organization. While no one particularly likes a war analogy, the military use of C4ISR technologies is compelling.
Someday Net-Centric Marketing may be so commonplace that Marketers will revert to dropping the Net-Centric qualifying adjective altogether. For those that believe this, it will only be a matter of time. Until then, the issues of Net-Centric Marketing need to be raised, shared, discussed, planned, and implemented to start the long business transformation process.