From CMO to CIO, why marketing needs to embrace technology

Creativity is the life-blood of marketing, and it is one of the main reasons why many marketing professionals are drawn to the industry: a commercially viable way of living out creative aspirations. However, for many marketers at the top of their game, the amount of time available to spend on creative thinking and developing inspired campaigns is hindered by administrative tasks. Bureaucracy, complex procedures, and the necessity to deliver at speed and on trend, all drain the resources at a marketer’s disposal.

The rise of ‘omni-channel’ marketing has only served to exacerbate these administrative burdens. Now, every system, supplier and touchpoint must be synchronised efficiently in order to achieve success. In addition, modern marketing is expected to bridge gaps for the consumer, whether they are shopping online, using a desktop or smartphone, or in a bricks-and-mortar store.

These trends are placing an increasing amount of weight onto the already loaded shoulders of the marketing department. And therein lies the problem. Marketing professionals are struggling to keep a finger on the pulse of the latest trends, perform extensive administrative and operational tasks, and still find time to schedule that awesome brainstorm or develop an exciting new brand campaign.

Simply put, marketers need to return to being marketers - not administrators, procurement or IT people. Moving towards a simplified marketing strategy should mirror emerging trends in people’s personal lives, where technology allows people to perform tasks at the click of a button, from almost anywhere in the world.

Technology as the enabler for the marketing department

Marketing automation is not a new concept, but many solutions today are finding it hard to keep up with omni-channel marketing campaigns and socio-economic consumer trends. In fact, research from industry expert David Raab, shows that almost 70 per cent of marketers are either unhappy or only marginally happy with their current marketing automation solutions. It is therefore essential to make a wise choice when selecting a solution provider.

The inherent problem with omni-channel marketing campaigns is that they have created incredibly complex internal structures within organisations - all of which may make simplicity from a single marketing automation platform more difficult to achieve than it initially seems.

For this reason, it is vital that the chosen solution ensures that everyone, from suppliers to in-house teams, can work together via a platform that allows approvals, compliance and supplier touchpoints to be managed from a single unified interface. All members of the team should be continuously kept up to date with overarching creative campaigns and projects through an easy-to-use interface, which provides complete visibility at any given point.

The best technology-led marketing solutions must also deliver significant cost savings, not just directly in the form of overheads, but also indirectly, reducing the hours that marketers spend on administrative duties. In addition, any solution implemented must also meet changing and evolving customer demands, as well as being able to seamlessly integrate with a plethora of third-party platforms that marketers rely on to get their jobs done. Once the complex administration procedures and bureaucracy have been minimised, marketers are free to reinvest the time they save on brand development and management.

Effective outsourcing via technology platforms and services should leave the marketing department free to create, innovate and inspire. However, in order to achieve this, a cultural change needs to take place within marketing first. Embracing the evolution of digital technology is the first step towards eliminating time-consuming bureaucratic procedures and allowing marketers to focus on what they do best - marketing itself!

Simon Ward, CEO at Inspired Thinking Group