A new marketing paradigm has hatched, and it’s growing.  Where there was once division between marketing and IT teams now there is unity. Where technology once struggled to meet marketing objectives without clear attribution, now it’s deployed to support business goals with rich analytics.

We are embarking into a time period where the role “marketing” is being redefined faster than most organizations can respond. By respond, I mean drive business goals. It goes beyond media and messaging, and it is becoming the contextual fabric that holds together the complete customer experience. It is a union – no, a hybrid -- between technology, marketers, business and those who study human behavior. The Harvard Business Review agrees. In an article titled “The Rise of the Chief Marketing Officer”, HBR prophetically declared, A new type of executive is emerging at the center of the transformation: the chief marketing technologist. CMTs are part strategist, part creative director, part technology leader, and part teacher. “

Segmentation is dead. It is a holdover from the bygone era of direct mail and print marketing. It assumes people’s lives are static. Its continued use has calcified what marketing is capable of achieving for the business. It is a serialized process in a parallel and asynchronous world, where asymmetric influences produce measurable outcomes for the business. In an interview with MarketingWeek last month, Salesforce CMO Guillaume Roques said, “We are no longer in a world where we’re segmenting using categories such as age or location; we are in a one-on-one world where we have to talk in a personalised way to everyone. It means we’re back to where we were in the beginning of the 20th century, where people knew their customers by name.

Journey building is dead. It assumes life is a production line. In an era where consumer intent changes with the sudden trending of a hashtag, it is beyond the capability of any one human being to foresee or predict the future, never mind create and test the thousands of permutations to truly drive sales and incrementalism for the business. Machines are far better at finding the patterns that matter in the vast sea of consumer activity, and predicting next steps and outcomes for the customer and the business. A win-win world driven by an adaptive contract between humans and machines.

Loyalty mapping is in. It's beginning with the end in mind. It's analyzing the data to imagine and predict what the ultimate ambition for each customer could be. The route will be unclear with lots of zigs and zags, potholes to be avoided and fast-lanes to duck into when the opportunity presents itself. Control is in the hands of the customer. The idea of handing them directions, and asking them to follow seems quaint now. CMOs and their partners in IT are now responsible for being the Waze, if not always the means to an end. As Guillaume explained, “Digital transformation isn’t about how the CMO and CIO can work together to better those touch points, it’s about the CMO and CIO working together with the CEO to transform the way they are serving their customers.”

Extending marketing into the customer experience and making moments of impact requires people and technology that not only understand the “who” and the “what” but also take into consideration time, place, immediacy and goals.

Those who have made the transition into this new era of contextual marketing tend to fall into the following patterns:

  1. The CMO and CIOs are tightly aligned. Tech is deployed to drive goals, not for the sake of deploying tech.
  2. They recognize that technology will advance faster than their teams are able to respond with viable solutions.
  3. They recognize that far more capital is being put to work than they ever could to develop and design solutions on their behalf.
  4. IT teams have a declared mission to work with new and innovative companies. They become more innovative by taking risks on new ideas by working with the best and brightest in the industry
  5. IT is a supportive role, not a development shop. They recognize they need to be experts on how to apply technology solutions to their business, not become slaves to technical debt and internally developed tools.
  6. The business and marketing team are tightly aligned on objectives.
  7. Both the marketing and IT organizations recognize the value of incremental wins. They avoid building battleships and trade the monolith for small, nimble and tactical teams. Their technology choices reflect that.

Achieving this new paradigm must not overlook the obvious challenges. Companies have invested years of capital, blood, sweat and tears into their current technology platforms. Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses are not given the budgets and luxury to transition off of legacy systems and onto complete new tech; a distinct disadvantage to their new and disruptive digital counterparts eating their lunch.

Also, building and stitching things together on your own works great until you have to tighten your IT belt. Then you realize the people who built your one-off no longer work for the company, and you have amassed a pile of technical debt (ie: start looking for a new job). At that point, those left behind have no choice but to take a flamethrower to that rats’ nest.

World-class organizations achieving this new paradigm are taking a unique approach. They are creating incremental transitions from their data warehouse with The Customer Data Platform. This new approach operationalizes customer data in the cloud, allows the company to create a contract for accessibility, reliability, security and access control. With this one step, they are immediately enhancing their ability to integrate with newer and more effective cloud-based technologies, modern data warehouses, BI tools, advanced AI and analytics; without taking on the burden of architecting a completely new marketing and CRM stack.

World-class organizations deserve world-class technologies and shouldn’t settle for anything less (and can’t afford to either). Achieving the new marketing paradigm requires technology worthy of a Learjet--fast, agile, sleek and built to last. The emergence of The Customer Data Platform offers  a clear next step for organizations that understand a tactical and agile approach is the answer. They recognize battleships will not win the war.