Category: Digital Strategy

  • The Always-On Customer Obsessed Organization

    The Always-On Customer Obsessed Organization

    There are many anomalies in the business world today. None bigger than the intent to put the customer at the center of our ecosystem or being “customer-obsessed”. While 9 out of 10 organizations would claim to do it, 9 out of 10 actually don’t end up doing it. While the customer is at the center […]

  • With Its Eye On Consumers, HealthCare Shifts From Volume To Value

    With Its Eye On Consumers, HealthCare Shifts From Volume To Value

    As originally published on AdExchanger – Healthcare Shift from Volume to Value I used to hear that health care was behind other industries when it comes to digital technology adoption and delivering immersive consumer experiences. It may be behind CPG, retail, finance and travel, but it is by no means slower. The industry is evolving […]

  • AdExchanger – Consumers Spark Data-Driven Digital Transformation Within Health Care

    As originally published on AdExchanger on March 1st, 2016 In a digital world where the process of innovation has become a commodity, driverless smart cars, personal drones and one-click purchasing have become part of our daily lives. Yet health care, an industry that touches and impacts everyone’s life, has lacked the same innovation or disruption, […]

  • SocialMediaToday – My Dialogue with Drew Neisser

    SocialMediaToday – My Dialogue with Drew Neisser

    Originally published on SocialMediaToday by Drew Neisser In partnership with The CMO Club, The CMO of the Week series profiles CMOs who are shaping, changing and challenging the world of modern marketing. For Drew Neisser’s complete interview with CMO Award Winner Mayur Gupta, click here. Programmatic is about as nerdy as it gets in the world of marketing. It’s the […]

  • The New Marketer – From T-Shaped to Pi-Shaped

    The New Marketer – From T-Shaped to Pi-Shaped

    Ashley Friedlein, the CEO of Econsultancy, has a great op-ed in Marketing Week today, Why modern marketers need to be pi-people. That’s “pi” as in the capital Greek letter pi that looks like this: Π. It’s a riff on the label “T-shaped people” that has been popularized in digital marketing over the past few years. T-shaped people have a specific expertise where they go really deep (e.g., graphic design, software development, data analytics, etc.), but they also have broad interest and sufficiently useful surface-level skills across many other adjacent disciplines. Many marketing technologists have had this profile: expertise in technology and engineering, but interest and skills across more traditional marketing capabilities. According to Friedlein, pi-shaped people are “marketers with a broad base of knowledge in all areas, but capabilities in both ‘left brains’ and ‘right brain’ disciplines. They are both analytical and data-driven, yet understand brands, storytelling, and experiential marketing.” (Emphasis added is my own.) This comment was made in the context of Friedlein giving broader insight in response to the question: How do you create a marketing function fit for the future? He talks about how brands advance along a digital marketing maturity model by integrating digital into the primary organization, not sequestering it in a separate silo. “Integrating digital into the organization properly reaches nirvana only when there is no left in the organization with ‘digital’, ‘e’, ‘online’, ‘internet’, ‘new media’, or ‘interactive’ in their job title,” he writes. It’s at that point that he makes the case for pi-shaped people as the leaders in this new generation of integrated marketing. “Of course, it is asking a lot for someone to be talented at everything creative and analytical,” he admits, “But these people do exist and represent the future of truly integrated marketing. Witness the growth of job titles such as ‘creative technologist’ or ‘chief marketing technologist’. You want people who focus on the customer, understand data, like change, are curious and passionate.” He also notes that marketing processes are changing, embracing an agile marketing approach. “There’s a move towards more agile ways of working, which should affect marketing as much as project management or IT. We have to move from highly linear, highly specified, rigid ways to more fluid, reactive, dynamic approaches.” Do take a moment to look at the full article — it’s a great read.

  • Omni-Channel Retail: A Term So Confusing, Even Those Doing it Best Don’t Know What it Means

    In the late 1990’s, I remember attending an e-commerce trade show and laughing with a group of colleagues about rapid rise of the term “CRM”. It was on the tip of everyone’s tongue in the conference sessions, and the exhibit hall was full of solution providers, most of them new, claiming to have the perfect, easy to implement system to give us all instant access to customer intimacy. A few years later, “Web 2.0” became what “CRM” had been; a nebulous term thrown about at trade shows and on blog posts that no one really understood. CEOs asked their e-commerce directors “are we doing Web 2.0?” as if it were something one could buy and install or a box that could be checked off of a to-do list. Fortunately, the term Web 2.0 went away and we never had to face the task of defining it clearly or, God forbid, dealing with a Web 3.0 or beyond. Yet, here we are again. The term ‘omni -channel retail’ dominates the headlines of trade news stories and the business sections of high profile publications. When I ask my clients and my colleagues what that term means to them, we usually laugh and admit that we can’t really describe it very well. Plus, I have yet to meet someone who likes the term or thinks it serves a valuable purpose. An Internet Retailer article last week quoted Jamie Nordstrom as saying “I’m not sure what ‘omni-channel’ means”. Nordstrom, arguably a leader in both investment and execution of integrated retail, lauded by some as a shining example of ‘omni-channel’ have themselves tossed the term aside. That ought to tell us something. I first recall hearing the ‘omni-channel’ term about 3 years ago, when mobile shopping was just appearing on the horizon. The phenomenon of customers bringing the web into the physical store via their smartphones created a new customer behavior that many retailers weren’t prepared for. This was more than a cross-channel shopper….so what should we call them? Since then, ‘omni-channel’ has been used with increasing frequency, though unfortunately without much further clarity. Here’s a quick summary of the conversations I’ve had over the last couple of weeks on the topic: Retailers use the terms multi-channel, cross-channel and ‘omni-channel’ interchangeably, but probably mean different things when they say them. When you break it down, the most confusion comes between the terms ‘cross channel’ and (like it or not) ‘omni-channel’. While I’m no fan of the ‘omni-channel’ label, at the heart it represents a very real phenomenon: cross-channel capabilities are rapidly advancing and retailers are more deeply integrating their channels to enable new levels of customer convenience and delight. We need to call it something, even If it’s not ‘omni-channel’. For now, I’m thinking about it this way: Multi-channel: Generally speaking, most agree that any retailer that operates more than one channel (stores, e-commerce, catalog, mobile commerce, etc.) is by default multi-channel. But, being multi-channel doesn’t mean that the experience of shopping across those channels is coordinated or cohesive to the customer. Companies in the early stages of coordinating the experience usually focus on the things close to the surface, such aligning customer facing promotional events, pricing and messaging for brand consistency. But, they may not embark on the heavy operational lifting or systems integration required to offer a seamless experience for those customers using more than one channel. Cross-channel: Historically, this term has described the capabilities that allow customers to interact and transact with a brand across multiple channels, for example, researching an item online and buying in a store, buying an item on line and picking it up in a store or buying an item online and returning to a store. These cross-channel conveniences have become commonplace for many multi-channel retailers, but they don’t necessarily require the level of operational and data integration that’s starting to evolve. For example, all of the scenarios described here can be done without integrating customer data, inventory or product content. They take some process work and training, but they can be done without going too far under the hood. So, while they are great conveniences for the customer and may be executed well enough, there’s a whole new level of integrated customer experience that isn’t being realized. From an organizational perspective, the channels still exist as, well, channels, with mostly separated staffs, goals and strategies. This makes execution and measurement of cross channel programs difficult, and few companies do cross-channel well or without significant challenges. Omni-channel: Most of the people using this term are using it reluctantly, either because they don’t like the way it sounds or, more importantly, because the term doesn’t adequately express the customer centricity of what they’re trying to do. Suffice to say, for some, ‘omni-channel’ is considered a next generation or “advanced” version of cross-channel. Here, customer data, inventory, product data, content and operations are integrated to operate as “one”, with the customer in the center. The customer is able to interact and transact across touch points (note the word touch points here, not channels) interchangeably and simultaneously. For most retailers, this is a highly aspirational state, but it’s where the leaders are headed. Examples of ‘omni-channel’ in action might mean customers having access to inventory availability regardless of the store or warehouse where it resides, or an order being fulfilled from whichever location is the fastest, most economical or convenient to the customer. It might mean customers and sales associates having access to the same rich set of product information and content regardless of whether they are looking at a cell phone screen, a tablet , a computer, a cash register, an in store kiosk or a digital sign. It might mean that marketing messages are personalized, tailored and delivered to a customer based on location, purchase or browse history and device, with service at each touch point that takes this critical data into account. Culturally and organizationally, achieving success will take huge leaps not only in IT, but just as critically, in culture, organizational structure, planning and measurement. Channel barriers will need to be broken down with more cross-functional morphing across teams to deliver the desired customer experiences. Strategic plans, budgets and goals must be centralized, with focus on key financial and customer metrics company-wide. Easy to say. Very hard to do. Clearly the aspirational state described as ‘omni-channel’ is a step up from how we’ve thought about cross-channel in the past. It’s understandable that we’re confused and frustrated by the term. E-commerce is still a young industry (and yes, I know that there are many of you out there who believe that ‘e-commerce’ is itself an outdated term). As we grow up, as customer expectations evolve, it’s only natural to need a vocabulary to describe what we’re doing and experiencing. If we ditch the term ‘omni-channel’ (and personally, I’d be all for it), hopefully we can all agree on what to call it before we move on to the next stage of our evolution (and the inevitable new and confusing buzz terms that that will bring).

  • Buyer Behavior Helps B2B Marketers Guide The Buyer’s Journey

    Originally published by: Forrester | on 2012-10-04 13:28:20 by Lori Wizdo Today’s buyers control their journey through the buying cycle much more than today’s vendors control the selling cycle. Although it varies greatly with product complexity and market maturity, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before […]

  • eCommerce vs Digital Landscape OR eCommerce Within Digital Landscape?

    In an ever evolving and highly complex digital landscape, nothing is a simple straight line let alone the consumer journey or even the consumer’s final destination that has gone way beyond the traditional conversion or selling point. As a matter of fact, you may argue that the real journey or the true battle for the […]

  • Shut That Off! Or Oversharing In The Age of Personal Broadcasting

    “You have to put this into a column,” my wife insists as the ER intern is stitching her index finger. “I should write about your slicing your finger with a hand blender?,” I snarked as I filmed the procedure with my iPad. “But I think you will get points at least for delaying your self-assault until Mick Jagger was done with his second set on SNL.” “Noooo! You should write about how I married someone who brings his iPad to the ER thinking that this would be great to ‘get in HD.’” “The sutures don’t really come through in low-res.” That didn’t help…although the interns and nurses in attendance seemed to think that a husband filming these things with a mobile device was pretty much a given. While I have never been accused by anyone of being a standard-issue sports-loving, beer-popping, atta-boy type of American male, it is always good to have maleness as a cover for my antics.   “Who are you sending this to?” “Well, your mother, of course.” “Nooo! She faints at the sight of blood.” And so begins what has now become a new ritual of everyday life, editing one’s own life broadcast. Self-branding, the arts of personal public performance and exposure are not inventions of mobility. Turning the private into public performance is an American theme of the last decade. A culture of self-esteem education, reality TV, and social media have all been accelerants in a cultural redefinition of selfhood that runs deeper than I can handle here. Like it or not. Want it or not. Facebook America is one where everyone is engaged in personal branding. Mobility is going to change personal “walls” into me-networks. With a new multimedia richness, mobile tools are here to make reality TV shows out of every one of us.    But the device and mobility have made these trends all the more powerful. We are now all editor/directors of our own PBS (Personal Broadcasting System). Years ago, video network and search engine Blinkx’s CEO Suranga Chandratillake told me that at some point in the future we would have always-on portable cams recording every minute of our day. With the right search tools we would be able to find and review any aspect of our lives. In some measure we have the tools at hand now to do that. We carry with us the awareness that all and any moment is recordable and share-able. We are in a position of choosing what not to record or how to share and with whom. Interestingly, it took all these years for Facebook to move from an old media news paradigm of a “newsfeed” to describe personal posting to the more personable “timeline” metaphor. Too late. The weird linkage between personal communication and traditional media structures is unavoidable. We are all media companies now. We all are directors and managing editors deciding from the flow of normal events (the “wire service” of experience) what goes out and what doesn’t, what is “news,” what properly brands us, what is best left unsaid — I mean, un-broadcast. A lot of journalistic ink (or pixels) has been expended on the private becoming public under this new generation of over-sharing youth, powered by blogs, social networks and “you-can-be-a-star” TV programming. I am sure it is bigger than this and runs much deeper than can be attributed to any single media platform or device. But the changes are significant. American cultural historians in the 1980s (during my stint as an academic) used to distinguish broadly (too-broadly) between a 19th-century American culture based on notions of personal “character” and a modern turn to ideas of “personality.” The former was grounded in an agrarian and mercantile economy where identity was tied to profession, craft, work ethic, behavior within a smaller community. “Personality” was an urban modern creation where self was seen as more presentational — a function of corporate, bureaucratic relations, being personable in a world of strangers. One of the great bestsellers of the 1930s was Norman Vincent Peale’s religiously based The Power of Positive Thinking. In a similar vein, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People was the first handbook for self-branding, a guide to building an image of yourself in the minds of others.  Believe me, the culture of Facebook was not built overnight. The character/personality dichotomy is laughably oversimplified but still helpful in grasping how changes in attitudes and approaches toward “self” are tied to very complicated shifts in economy, philosophy, religion, work, and physical circumstance. Is it any coincidence that we see this emergence of self-promotion and self-branding at the moment when almost everyone in the American workforce must define himself and herself as free agents? In the post-union, service economy of startups we all are likely to have many jobs and even careers in the course of a work life. Of course we are always building our brand; we are always for sale. What does this mean to marketers, media and mobility? I am not sure yet. Actually, I am not even close to understanding it yet, but I am hoping to start some of that discussion in these columns in coming months. But there are some obvious points. The mobile device is a tool in a larger cultural shift involving selfhood, but it is the most intimate tool that may have the biggest role. From the time that ringtones became the first successful media form on feature phones, we knew that we were dealing with a technology of a different sort — that people were leveraging phones as tools of self-expression, not just as platforms of content consumption. Understanding this basic aspect of mobile media suggests we can do a lot better than “sponsored stories” in Facebook feeds and interactive rich media ads that let us swipe and tap our way toward “engagement.” Surely the smartest mobile media and marketing will become collaborators in the project of self-branding — not just commercial interruptions. “Shall I post this to Facebook?” I ask my wife. She is sporting a comic finger bandage that is so oversized, white and bulbous she looks as if she had been wounded in a Warner Bros. Merrie Melody cartoon. “You look like Wile E. Coyote after a run-in with the Roadrunner. I am already imagining the caption.” “Sure, wiseguy. Post it. What does it say about my husband that he spent his time with me in the ER filming my finger being sewn up?” “That I am a dogged researcher of the outer edges of mobility and modern self?” “Yeah, Professor. Brilliant. That is exactly what people will think. Run with that one.” Okay — so I guess I have to think through my own self-branding acumen. Those who can’t do, teach.