It wouldn’t be December if we didn’t look back…and look ahead.
It’s just what we do, right? For the past few years, it has been easy to make predictions, like “We’ll be obsessed with big data” or “It will be the year of experience.” But this year has given me pause. What will 2018 have in store? Last year moved quickly…will 2018 go by even faster?
With that, I’ll offer some predictions…unless they don’t come true. Then we’ll all just call them thoughts and be on our way.
1. Dave…chill out. HAL’s got this. The machines will rise. Okay, so not in the Terminator sense of getting all homicidal and end-of-the-world-ey. But this will be the year we look to machines to get smarter about our customers and our operations. We will expect machines to be more…well, human. We will expect them to learn. And most importantly, we will expect them to go from newborn to college graduate intern in a matter of moments. Sure, we might start with applications of machine learning—the opportunity for a machine to ingest massive amounts of batch data to deliver next-best options and predictive indicators for next actions—but this will quickly evolve to applications of augmented intelligence and cognitive computing where batch data is abandoned in favor of real time, in-line application of data that is rich in context and relevance. The machines that stories warned us about in our youth—the ones that could rise up and open pod bay doors—will become the CMO’s right hand and the marketing team’s best friend, empowering swift action, reshaping the marketing mix and giving us a new window into the most powerful weapon in the arsenal: the customer.
2. Someone hand the supply chain some sunblock. Now that we can all agree that the customer experience extends from the moment the customer decides when and where to engage well past the traditional funnel—awareness, consideration, decision, etc.—and involves every moment and touchpoint around when, where and in what condition the customer receives their product, the supply chain will take a step out of the murky, dark, dank back room and have a moment in the blazing experience sun. In fact, supply chain will need to couple with commerce and marketing in order to create the total experience that drives both profitability and customer loyalty. After all, it won’t matter one bit if campaigns are perfectly personalized and lead a customer down the ideal, relevant, contextual and delight-inducing path only to end up with out-of-stock merchandise, shipping delays and impossible ownership challenges.
3. Daily Drucker, scooch and make some room. W. Edwards Deming is in the HOUSE. Marketing bloggers and management authors love a good Drucker quote. And what’s not to love? “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Uhhhh, yeah, it is! But the grandfather of the concept of the “knowledge worker” is quickly being rejoined by his compatriot, the sometimes forgotten W. Edwards Deming, who looked at the world of business through the lens of a statistician and engineer. Marketing began its most recent evolution firmly rooted in the Drucker-esque mindset of marketing and innovation being the core of business and the rest being cost. But today, as marketers look to shift beyond branding and evolve storytelling, it is easy to see the rising importance of a good Deming quote. “In God we trust, all others must bring data.” Just like I wouldn’t recommend a rip-and-replace approach to the martech stack, I don’t think you rip away Drucker and replace with Deming. There is plenty of room on the shelf for more coffee mugs with inspirational sayings from both consulting giants. But the reality is that marketing—most specifically, the CMO—has to start coloring those lenses with a bit more of that data-rich statistical approach of Deming. Innovate with knowledge, but continue to keep your knowledge of the customer at the forefront of what you do.
So there you have it: three predictions (that we might just call thoughts later) to end 2017. I’d be remiss to not to stop here and just say a heartfelt thank you. As some of you know, this has been a year of soul-shaking, radical change for me as I welcomed my daughter into the fray. Through it all, the incredible team here at the CMO Council has been keeping up with all of the craziness…and keeping me honest. Without them, this year would have been chaos. They have all done incredible work, and the sheer amount of content, engagements, events and experiences that were accomplished in 2017 is simply astounding. As ever, I am humbled and so, so, so grateful to have these partners and this team.
To all of our readers, members and even the casual bystander, on behalf of all of us here at the CMO Council, have the happiest and healthiest of new years. See you all in 2018!
Follow me on Twitter @lizkmiller.