Commerce with Digital at the Core

The premise on my talk at the Consumer Goods Technology Sales & Marketing Summit# [on Twitter #CGSM2014]:

Commerce with digital at the core 

The latest sales figures on tablets and smartphones, the rise of Google, and rapid growth of Facebook and Twitter in the last few years say it all – the new paradigm is caveat venditor, or let the seller beware. In the palm of their hands your customers have the tools and the access they need to create media, upload data, share content, and compare notes about your company, products and services… and those of your competitors’. Technology is at the core of today’s user experience.

To participate in the opportunities of this new environment, businesses need to reimagine commerce with digital at the core. This reimagining requires the technology and marketing disciplines to stretch to meet the needs of their customers.

However, technology organizations are historically and inherently risk-averse. Due to the nature and scale of the systems they support and integrate (e.g., capital expenditures over multiple years, patches between legacy tech and new software, considerations around keeping business running and security, etc.), they historically proceed slowly and cautiously and don’t engage in projects without specific objectives, goals, and returns. 

Marketing organizations by necessity need to move swiftly to launch products, services and/or campaigns.  In many cases, marketing’s projects have lacked the quantifiable, directly attributable return on investment (ROI) that IT demands to justify projects and resources, thus their projects are considered low priority.

More recently, the worlds of marketing and technology have collided as a result of numerous factors: marketing becoming more quantifiable; marketers becoming more tech savvy; and technology that allows marketers to control the means of production (e.g., Software as a Service or SaaS, Cloud, Content Management System or CMS, etc.). 

In this changing landscape, marketing organizations now have alternatives to internal IT organizations, including:

  • Outsourcing their IT needs directly
  • Exploring and using cloud/SaaS solutions
  • Sponsoring/creating their own “captive” technology organizations

If technology organizations refuse to acknowledge the changing landscape, their role will be marginalized to core infrastructure as marketing continues to explore and implement these other solutions.

Traditional IT organizations have two choices:

1.       Continue to build the walled garden and be the organization of “no” 

2.       Embrace and facilitate change 

By embracing change, IT organizations can partner with business, specifically marketing, to become a business enablement organization. In this role they can guide and foster product and service innovation through technology.


  • Smart CIOs embrace and facilitate change: the needs of business are rapidly changing; the environments they compete in are rapidly changing; and the pace of change is increasing. Rapid, robust solutions are needed by business to get ahead of these trends – just keeping up is not an option. Solutions must be provided – either by IT or by third parties that are easier to work with. To paraphrase, CIOs can lead and enable this change, follow change or get out of the way of change.  Be forewarned that the latter two options result in being marginalized by ever more powerful and user friendly SaaS tools.
  • Data integration is an area in which a better partnership between marketing and technology can yield quantifiable returns.  Both marketing and IT will benefit from more holistic knowledge that can be gleaned from integration between the front-end marketing activities and back-end customer and enterprise data. We are quickly reaching a time where this level of intelligence, including customer behavior, sentiment, and social activity, will be required in order to maintain your organization’s competitive position.
  • CMOs should right size their technology spend and look for opportunities to integrate and consolidate around a customer relevant strategy. Marketers need to answer key questions on what matters, what change is needed, and what should be done first, second, third, etc. to deliver the right experience to the right customer at the right time. Then work with IT and other service providers to build that experience -– from the front-end to the back-end.

Futher thoughts on the topic of technology as the foundation of business outcomes and data-driven marketing has become a necessity.

For the live audience, I prepared case studies and examples to bring this high level advice home at a very tactical level.

See you #CGSM2014

[image courtesy]


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.

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