The 2nd quarter is an interesting time to reflect on the industry trends that were floated at the beginning of the year, and the predictions that were made regarding CMO investments. 2018 began with systems of customer engagement well placed at the front and center of enterprise IT, given the focus on winning the hearts and minds of customers and driving revenue. Some of the technologies predicted to be top-of-mind for CMOs were AI/Machine Learning, the use of chat bots, enhanced data security, mobile and cloud-first paradigms, and ease of use. So, where did we see traction in the early part of the year?
My observation is that the marketing organization mindshare is growing towards enhancing customer experience, but the investments are not necessarily following suit. There is focus on data, experience, and technology, but the approaches are still siloed; a blended approach to unify all three is missing. As a result, a single view of the customer is still a mirage, and the customer journey is still disconnected across brand touchpoints.
Take a sneak peek into some of the key highlights…
There seems to be a continued reluctance to move legacy CMS to the cloud – possibly due to business continuity risks. These risks, real or perceived, maybe fed by the fear of complexity in legacy/home-grown CMS modernization and loss of governance and control. The other challenge for the CMO is that cloud infrastructure is managed by a separate enterprise CIO function, which has its own set of priorities, and marketing led cloud-migration initiatives may not necessarily present urgency.
Mobile-first as a paradigm is not being universally embraced, other than by B2C companies in certain verticals like retail and travel & hospitality. Overall, when I talk to CMOs and CIOs, there seems to be lowered interest in mobile application development platforms in favor of home-grown platforms (native or hybrid), using open-source for cross-platform, responsive architectures.
Good, human-centric design has generally been limited to front-end/interfaces, and is not necessarily evident in the content architecture, or in maintainability and extensibility of the technology components driving enterprise sites. The MarTech stack is more fragmented than ever with specialized software and platforms from social listening to analytics. This has added to the confusion in what package to select for the enterprise, and increased the complexity of integration in the absence of ready-to-integrate APIs or micro-service. CMOs need clearly identified business goals and revenue outcomes desired to help demystify the selection process and stitch these disparate platforms.
Amongst the emerging technologies, chatbots, pioneered by financial services and insurance sites, are increasingly commonplace. AI/ML driven predictive search is being prototyped and now replacing or augmenting suggestive and visual search on progressive sites. Predictive analytics though hasn’t yet become center-stage, primarily due to lack of clarity on KPIs and lack of volume data to train the engine to drive usable insight.
One important item sometimes missing from the current discourse, and one that needs immediate attention is compliance with the GDPR initiative. The EU-led Global Data Protection Regulation addresses the export of personal user data, and needs to be factored in as part of a broader security program for the enterprise. This has implications for commerce as well as non-transactional sites across industry verticals.
In the end…
For the next couple of quarters, besides security, the CMO agenda should continue to look at structuring their IT investments to connect and engage with their customer on an ongoing basis. Data, experience and technology initiatives should be part of a common roadmap with business milestones that intersect across all three tracks. The goal should be to drive contextual experiences across all the customer touchpoints, and segments vs. a simplistic focus on implementing good front-end design, modern CMS, MAP, CRM, commerce infrastructure, or streamlining data flow individually. This, to ultimately drive revenue; good content needs to find its reader, wherever, whenever, however.