Mayur Gupta dishes on why customers are the key to marketing and tech innovation.
Technology has been growing exponentially for many years now. Consumer options are directly tied to this growth. Marketers have been intensely focused on keeping pace with new channels and technology, and this focus has been a crucial element in the rise of the marketing technologist. However, when it comes to innovating in this new role, the key to success lies in the consumer, not necessarily the technology.
“We are in a world that is massively disrupted by the evolution of technology,” Gupta, Kimberly-Clark’s head of marketing technology and innovation, said during a Q & A interview with Direct Marketing News senior editor Al Urbanski at the 2015 Marketing & Tech Innovation Summit. “The challenge we have is we’re massively influenced by tech, and are channel-focused. It’s easy to talk about mobile or social. We aren’t talking about consumers. Everything is funneling to one goal; how to inspire consumer behavior change.” Though consumers have always been the central focus in successful marketing, the power technology has granted them has lead to unprecedented autonomy. “Consumers have a choice now. Everything used to be pushed-based, but now she’s pulling. If we want to win this race we have to be as fast, or faster than, consumers,” Gupta said.
Gupta said that’s where the role of a chief marketing technologist comes into play. He said that technology should drive seamless customer experiences. And frictionless experiences, he explained, will have a major positive impact on the bottom line. “As a marketer you don’t have to learn to build this tech. You have to know how to apply it,” Gupta said. “We haven’t figured out how to connect all of this tech to address consumer concerns yet.”
The main barrier to influencing consumer behavior with technology remains the siloed nature of many businesses. “Everyone needs to feel accountable with driving omnichannel customer experiences. It can’t just be the CMO,” Gupta said. “[Marketing tech innovation] is the intersection of marketing and sales, marketing and customer service. It’s not just marketing and tech. The only way to drive that is when you converge all of these isolated functions.” Remedies for this pervasive lack of interdepartmental integration have been hard to come by, but solutions start with education and cultivating a company culture conducive to the development of multidisciplinary personnel. “It’s not just how you teach, but actually enabling [employees] to perform their daily duties using tech,” Gupta said. Some of this burden lies with the academic systems, according to Gupta. Once marketing educators begin exposing their students to tech-oriented experiences, there will inevitably be more of these marketing tech “unicorns”—marketers who embrace technological solutions in their overarching marketing strategies. This won’t be an overnight change, of course.
At Kimberly-Clark, marketers participate in an internal tech boot camp, of sorts. “How can you expect to meet your customers on Twitter or Facebook when you don’t understand the platforms yourself?” Gupta asked.
“Consumer expectations are soaring high. The only way to reach them is when we break these silos,” Gupta said. “In the next five years if we still have this isolated layer of marketing and tech, we will have lost the battle. Every marketer should be a technologist should be an analyst. It’s top down. It’s the mind-set, the culture.”
In his closing comments, Gupta said that today’s emerging chief marketing technologists should understand that tech is a double-edged sword. On one side, technology gives increasing power to consumer. “Through choice and voice, consumers are no longer pushed. Now it’s the customer who’s pulling the market,” Gupta said. “But for us [as marketers], data that’s processed with technology makes content smarter. The combination of data and tech—that’s when the magic happens.”