Chicago—Data, and the need for technology to understand it, are changing the marketing profession and enabling a better understanding of customers as individuals, according to a panel discussion Thursday at the Business Marketing Association's 2013 “Blaze” conference.
“Engagement now goes beyond the buying journey and on to the life cycle of each customer,” said Katharyn White, CMO at IBM Global Services, a panelist at the session “The Future of Marketing and Technology: Are You Leading or Will You Have to Follow?”
White said that most marketers are unprepared for the changes they're encountering. “We are in the midst of a massive technological shift, as big as when the mainframe computer and PC were introduced,” she said. “And so many things are happening all at once.”
BT (formerly British Telecommunications) came late to the technological revolution, but its recent efforts are paying off, said co-panelist Neil Blakesley, VP-marketing at BT Global Services.
He said an analysis of the company's current customers showed they used only a few of the many BT telecom products. Spurred by insights gained through technology, BT introduced a training program that helped sales target these customers with up- and cross-sell offers, he said.
Technology enables marketers to “forget about the software and think of the buyer's journey,” said co-panelist Eduardo Conrado, senior VP-marketing and IT at Motorola Solutions.
“Technology historically has been focused on cost savings, optimizing the back-end processes and squeezing an extra 0.2% out of distribution costs,” Conrado said. “But systems of engagement now are showing how to drive 2% or 3% of additional revenue by having better insights with customers.”
Conrado said that smaller and younger companies have an advantage in adjusting to the technological revolution and shouldn't worry about how technology can be scaled down for their advantage.
“If you're a startup, your systems are brand new and fresh,” he said. “It's harder for a larger, older company, even though they may have more money and people to throw at it.”