It’s a word that can strike either excitement or fear in the heart. That’s because many business leaders are being thrust into a new world. A world that doesn’t make them feel brave. A world built on technology.
In April 2012 The Economist ran a front cover feature that talked of a Third Industrial Revolution, on how manufacturing is going digital. If we pause for a moment and consider what that means in practice, the profound shift that is underway: advanced manufacturing, 3D printing, cloud computing, social. This is not only industrial change, it is cultural change. On a global level.
And we are at the start of this journey – the next century will be characterised by the construction of a new industrial landscape. A technological landscape which exists out of sight, on banks of servers. And like the rail roads of the 18th Century, this will lay the groundwork for the next wave of economic progress. In 100 years we are likely to view the current crop of tech entrepreneurs in the same way as the Carnegies and Rockefellers.
What’s for sure is that the world will be getting more, and not less, technological. The future for marketing is more Silicon Valley than Madison Avenue, drinking protein shakes not Old Fashioneds for lunch. Your brand will be built on software and hardware.
Technology can create a service layer with customers that transcends what was previously possible. If you’d told a London cabbie three years ago that they’d be threatened by a smart phone app, they’d have laughed you back out of the door. Now they wouldn’t.
The pace of change is getting quicker – there are more stock market trades, patent registrations, start up launches than ever before. Business leaders need to rethink what their brands mean – or could mean – before some bright young thing from Stanford does it for them.
Research firm Gartner says that customer experience is “the new battlefield” predicting that “by 2016, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago”. What supports this experience is technology, and if its no good – then the brand promise fails.
As a result it’s almost impossible to say where marketing ends and technology starts. You don’t use Facebook because the ads persuade you to, the product is the experience. The experience becomes the brand, the relationship, the promise.
As leaders we need to deal with this, not stick our heads in the sand, delegate to the digital agency, or rely on a white knight from IT. So to survive, let alone thrive, marketers need to learn a new set of skills. As do technologists. The Martians need to talk to the Venusians.
That’s why we exist.
We want to talk, to debate, to argue. We want to pose the questions, and agree the answers together – with you. The only way to deal with such profound change is to open up: our companies, our departments, our own minds.
We should dissolve the walls that separate disciplines, and we should engage with those we traditionally wouldn’t; art & science; creative & coders; marketing & IT.
The best way to deal with digital disruption is to first ask yourself: how can I improve my customer’s experience?
The answers cannot be restricted to ‘traditional’ ways of thinking in your industry. Honestly answering this important question means dealing with ideas that may make you feel uncomfortable, challenge how your business is structured, or how it perceives itself. But if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got – and more likely, lose your shirt.
Together we are stronger. Together we can re-imagine the world, and rebuild it before it overtakes us.
We invite you to join us on the journey. It should be fun.
The Marketing Technology Association Founders
Genevieve Ampaduh – Digital specialist and founder of The Rye Social
Murray Lambell – Director, eBay Europe
Scott Morrison – Business accelerator, ex Marketing & Commercial Director Diesel
Ben Salmon – Expert in connecting data, technology and marketing
Martyn Ware – Founder of The Human League and Heaven 17, 3D sound artist