Commentary

Rethinking Your Operational Blueprint

For over a decade, marketers have been adapting to a new era where the customer is in charge, touchpoints proliferate daily, and the demands for “integration” and “engagement” increase every day. These fundamental shifts make marketing ever more complex and the rate of change ever faster.

The winners in this new world recognize that success means more than new strategies and skills; it means a whole new way of working. Not just for marketers, but for organizations as a whole. The operational architecture must change.

According to the CMO Council's “State of Marketing 2012” report, “organizational culture and senior management mindset both were highlighted as key sources of aggravation for marketers” and 30 percent of those surveyed indicate that internal dynamics can be a key source of friction within their organizations. These types of organizational issues don’t just resolve themselves, and ultimately impact marketers' bottom line and ability to achieve profitable growth.

From globally recognized brands to startup organizations, many of the problems that keep marketers up at night boil down to gaps in operational structure. As a marketer, how can you strive to walk the talk, ensure that belief aligns with reality for both management and staff, and make the best choices when it comes to people, processes and platforms?

Here are four ways to rethink your blueprint.

Take a design approach

Form follows function. What is the experience you need to create? What goes into that experience? How can you bring those things together? The answer is much larger than a traditional functional view.

Focus on capabilities

You need skills, infrastructure, operations, and tools to create experiences. What are they? Who has them? What capabilities do you need to build? A clear-eyed view of your capabilities helps bring the right internal and agency relationships into alignment.

Decide who decides

Step away from the organizational chart and think about how you share information. Think about your incentives. Above all, think what has to be decided and who makes the decisions. How those things come together has a greater impact on your results than who reports to whom. 

There is a time and place for technology

Technology is not a cure for ambiguity. Automation will not solve for weak operational design. Data and analysis are the foundation of any infrastructure and the arena where technology matters most.

Marketing will continue to become more distributed, more collaborative, and more technology-driven. CMOs will need agile and adaptable operational architectures to make their strategies succeed.

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