As recent studies conducted by IBM and others have established, global marketing organizations in general and CMOs in particular continue to feel both underprepared and threatened by changes
wrought by mobile, social media and the emergence of big data. While the evolving marketplace creates significant challenges for even the most savvy marketers, a disciplined and progressive approach
to these dilemmas will be the most effective means to meet the challenges. Below are five of the key driving forces that will shape the coming year.
1. The Data Challenge
As Eric Schmidt has recited, every two days we create as much data as was created in human history before 2003. Recent forecasts from Cisco predict there will be more than 15 billion connected devices by 2015 -- which means data creation will continue to accelerate exponentially.
The complexity of sure numbers is compounded by the increase in diversification of connected devices that begin to outnumber computers and possibly even smartphones: vehicles, health-care devices, appliances, apparel, etc. From a marketing perspective, the data from application logs, customer behavior, location-based services, social media streams and anonymized sources can be either confounding or when organized and analyzed properly, a treasure trove of insights and ultimately, competitive advantage.
In order to address these challenges, marketers need to recognize that there are three key shifts that must occur.
First, we need to
hire "quants" -- mathematicians and statisticians who can analyze both structured and unstructured data. Secondly, we need to continue to seek partnerships with the leading and emerging data
analytics systems and services providers. Finally, we need to begin to learn from and leverage proven data-mining and analytic techniques from financial services and life sciences disciplines.
2. All Media Is Social
The current state of social media can still be seen as a pimply-faced adolescent in many respects, but is beginning to reach maturity. An industry that was originally fostered and later dominated by public relations is now reaching a critical juncture that demands accountability and results that PR organizations may struggle with. In addition, while many of us have argued for years that the term social media is seemingly irrelevant because it is nearly impossible to distinguish social media from other media, this is true now more than ever.
This fundamental reality, when articulated, and subsequently acknowledged as such, creates an undeniable argument that those agencies that possess world-class digital media planning and buying capability will increasingly be the most successful stewards of social media/media activities. Today's maturing marketplace demands a holistic approach to paid owned earned.
As evidenced by recent developments at Facebook and Google (Google+ and YouTube), content and earned media will be leveraged and deeply integrated in ad and media performance. Unless the agency that is creating the content and managing the pages is also planning and purchasing the media, there will suboptimal results.
3. The Decline of Amateurism
While it is not expected that consumer-generated content will ever decrease in volume, it is clear that the new reality is that there will be much less amateur content that receives mainstream or mass audiences. Over the last year, we have seen the emergence of bloggers and social media personalities as spokespeople for major brands, the subjects of reality shows and full-fledged transmedia brands. The same personalities who are aligned with major companies are also being "acquired" by media conglomerates.
For example, Disney recently acquired the mom
blogger site Babble for $40 million. In addition, formerly grassroots-oriented platforms have determined that in order to effectively monetize themselves, a push to professionalism is necessary. In
particular, the recent redesign of YouTube places an emphasis on "channels" of mostly professional created and produced content.
As the economics of media continue to change, what was free will now need to be paid for. The days of getting influencers to tout products for nothing or for a nominal gift card are numbered. Moreover, in most cases, influence is now a measurable function of relationships and is being monetized.
4. The Rise of Social Enterprise
The consumerization of IT has reached a critical point of no return. While most corporate IT environments are still effectively functioning as command and control systems, the proliferation of low- to-no-cost cloud-based services for everything from project and contact management to private social networks, email, IM, data and file transfer, to social media management systems is creating security and financial risks for companies.
As Geoffrey Moore notes
in his new book, Escape Velocity, IT systems and those responsible for managing them need to evolve from "systems of record" to "systems of engagement." By creating an ecosystem that adopts
the best practices of the social Web and mirrors the capabilities internally, enterprises will increasingly become more efficient, collaborative, secure, intelligent and desirable workplaces for the
most talented future leaders. By adopting these practices internally, we are also more likely to create cultures that are better prepared to succeed in the evolving media landscape.
5. The New Mini-Mogul
In the early days of social media, we had a fondness for the "power of one," the lone blogger, who, using his bully pulpit had the power to transform a campaign or bring a major company to its knees. While individuals still maintain this ability in theory, the marketplace has become cacophonous, making it difficult to rise above the fray. As digital natives increasingly enter the workforce, we are entering an era of fundamental transformation in which artistic creativity and technical skill are often embodied in one individual.
Part tech geek, part artist, enter the new hybrid agent of change. As our lives and technology are increasingly intertwined, the tools that we use to communicate, navigate, transact and those that serve to entertain and inform are bundled. While the media that is being created will always require content, the mechanisms of change are being conceived and created by those who have grown up in a digital world in which left-brain capability is an enabler for right-brain vision.