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Brands are undergoing dramatic change structurally, as the role of data and technology has forced many marketers to rethink whether they are effectively organised around the customer.
Data and technology have been key catalysts, as they have exposed critical blockers in the way brands are organised, the capabilities they have access to (internally and externally), and the underlying processes that govern how they think, plan, and execute. The implication of this was validated by a recent piece of research we conducted with 80 senior marketers, which revealed 70% of brands felt their organisation was not aligned to the customer journey, and 75% of brands did not share a common view of the customer.
But why is it so difficult?
Internal operating models
Seventy percent of brands from our research referred to breaking down organisational silos as their toughest challenge – an issue further magnified for global brands with decentralised models and multi-discipline agencies.
At a high level, there is the challenge of aligning the often-competing objectives of Brand and Commerce, Marketing and Digital, and Advertising and Media, and then at the deeper level there is alignment of the individual channels and disciplines, e.g. Biddable, SEO, CRM, content, audience management, etc. Across each of these teams and disciplines, there is the risk of contrasting objectives (awareness, sales, likes, views, traffic, advocacy etc), processes, and technologies – all conspiring to deliver to their singular goals.
The common theme within all of these teams and disciplines are data and technology. They all harness data, produce content, and activate technology, and this helps to illustrate the risk in not aligning the respective disciplines towards a consistent and customer-centric approach.
Overlaying some of the internal challenges with a complex agency model makes the challenge of integration a much harder one. In the same research, 60% of brands believed they did not have the ‘right’ agency model to support a more data-driven approach to their marketing. Brands felt their agencies did not co-operate effectively, and also questioned their motivations towards sharing data versus building dependency through proprietary tools and techniques.
Consolidation would naturally help this cause, but should not be a necessity provided agencies can demonstrate their ability and openness towards working collaboratively, making it their problem rather than burdening their client.
The demands on capability have naturally changed for brands – not simply for those who have sought to insource more of their media requirements, but for those seeking greater control, transparency, and effectiveness. Accordingly we have seen a profound change in the make-up of marketing teams with much greater (and more integrated) expertise in data, analytics and insight, marketing technology, audience management, and dynamic content.
Due to the scarcity of these roles, some have become more reliant on their strategic agency partners, while others have created new operating models via centres of excellence in key talent hubs (e.g. London, Berlin, Seattle, Prague), or looked to redeploy transferable resource into these roles.
Ultimately, with customer data at the heart, these skills have become critical to the future sustainability of these organisations and should make the way they interact with their agency and technology partners a more collaborative and transparent process, providing greater clarity and direction on where they create the most value and exploiting that. Clearly for agencies, technology platforms, and publishers, they will need to adapt their operating models to accommodate this new hybrid model.
For those brands succeeding in this area, we see a number of the following characteristics:
- They have a clear vision for their brand, the relationship it should have with its customers, and the role data and technology plays in achieving that.
- They have a clear plan for capturing, storing and using data responsibly to deliver more relevant communications.
- They have shared KPIs that help to break down silos and encourage all teams to work towards common goals.
- They have a cohesive agency model, working collaboratively and transparently to meet their needs.
- They think creatively about the capabilities needed to make the right choice on what to own, buy, or rent, and which skills need to be nurtured in-house.