Earlier this year business consulting and outsourcing provider Infosys and communications services provider WPP launched a comprehensive cloud-based digital marketing platform called BrandEdge. It’s meant to serve the transforming scope and needs of chief marketing officers in the age of big data, social media and mobility. As analyst reports increasingly see influence and technology spending shift to the hands of CMOs, Jim Ericson and Samson David, VP and Global Head, Infosys Business Platforms discussed how the tool and service market is aligning to the demands the digital age has created for cross platform marketers – and the future it implies for IT.

We’ve seen evidence to suggest that that the CMO is gaining IT budget influence and a larger role due to the revenue implications of online marketing amid the uptake of consumer technology and digital communication.

Yes, there is a fundamental and tectonic shift in the world of the CMO and it’s primarily led through consumers that are going more and more through the digital route. The consumer of today spends a lot of time with in their digital world, accessing information through several devices in different digital channels. More importantly it’s all very interactive. It’s no longer one way communication.

How do you feel that directly impacts the CMO?

The shift is calling for enterprises to see the migration and adjust their plans to include these digital consumers. In the past if you were a CMO you would really focus on the creative parts of your messaging and positioning and pretty much everything else was taken care of by the agency. All the delivery and engagement of the campaign reaching to customers, pretty much that entire ecosystem and structure was in place.

Now it is more complex. Now somebody has to worry about what kind of devices, what kinds of channels to consumers, collaboration, the whole social part, all of those things have to be taken into account before you launch your campaign and followed up on after you launch. That is where we believe the data has two significant dimensions a CMO needs to look at. One is the mechanics of getting a campaign out there. Second is what I call the “humanics” of dealing with the campaign once it is out there.

By that you mean managing the new engagement channels and devices?

Right, he needs technology to build campaigns efficiently, which I call the mechanics, and once he has a campaign he needs other technology to execute seamlessly with marketing which we call the humanics.

Let me give you an example. Any time you launch a campaign there will be people who chit chat about your brand. They do this on the digital assets that you own and also on the public assets of Facebook and Twitter and a bunch of others. There has to be a way for the CMO to figure out, once he’s launched a campaign, whether it is first of all addressing the right target group. Second, he needs an ability to listen to what his target group is saying about his brand, and an ability to understand, run analytics using big data for that matter because there is so much of consumer generated content that you really need to mine and make sense of to engage well.

One client on our platform launched a campaign for marketing cosmetics. The most natural target group is would be women, but we found as part of our work was that about 22 percent of the people who transacted were actually men of about 20 years age. That was surprising but then we figured out these men were mostly not buying cosmetics for themselves, but as a gift.

When you find an insight like this, your definitional target group expands and then you go to the watering holes where these people are found. Once the machinery gets you there it becomes a very human thing of segment analysis and a whole bunch of analytics to really know what’s going on.

It’s not surprising that Infosys or someone else would see this as a service platform opportunity.

Right, when we spotted this shift between the two worlds we partnered with one of the biggest agencies, WPP, and came together and created this digital marketing platform called BrandEdge to address the whole picture.  We saw it as a way for the CMO to focus on the message and creativity and use BrandEdge across all kinds of digital assets, campaigns and agencies.

Some observers believe CIOs are slowly migrating toward governance and service broker roles. To the extent that is true, how do you think an service engagement like this spans the CMO and CIO roles going forward?

The CMO is going to be the largest technology consumer in the organization and as consumers become it just becomes more so, but that job won’t extend to how all of that is managed. That CMO is a consumer of one or more of the services that can be provided but that job is to run marketing, not to get mired in the tech nuances.

For the CIO, a few years ago his job was to buy hardware and software and network and services and put it all together over 12 or 24 months. At the end it goes well or doesn’t or goes somewhat well. But now with all the new technology breakthroughs in cloud and social and mobile and the rest, there are completely new sourcing models. You rightly said that the CIO’s role is moving from nuts and bolts to someone who offers business services, the custodian who enables the organization to run. His world is changing and he has choices primarily powered by the new technologies and the new engagement paradigm. Just like the sourcing and procurement guy’s job is to negotiate the best contracts and get the maximum amount of spend under management, just like HR needs to do a great job of managing talent, the CIO has to manage and provide all the business services on demand, and the rest of the guys are consumers. It can and ought to be a very symbiotic relationship once it is settled and the roles and structure and governance are in place. Some already understand this, and now marketing is going to take some time to catch up with the maturity you see in HR. 

Is this mix of business services moving off premise or to the hands of external providers?

Some of our clients have approached this more as a turnkey platform but many want to start small and on premise. It is early days but I think eventually the power will come from a turnkey service. It is not uncommon for organizations to throw a lot of money at marketing technology. The moment you start splitting the functions, everybody has a plan but often it is not working. Everybody sees a point solution but the power comes when you fuse it all together. [What we offer] is to take social, mobility, big data, video, cloud, fuses it all to cloud, which is nothing but a pipe really where you offload complexity Some already understand this, but it is happening slowly and it will take some time for marketing to catch up with the maturity you see in HR.

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