For marketers, planning and future-gazing are fun spectator sports akin to window shopping–but that also means they can be tiring and unsatisfying. Unfortunately, digital transformations always feature plenty of blind alleys that drain time and focus. Choosing the right avenues where effort expended will result in return on investment can be difficult.
Corporate map-reading has conventionally used the past to understand the trajectory and create a guide to the future. The problem with this approach is that digital disruption is happening so quickly, and with such reach, that the past is no longer a reliable indicator.
This means the old approach to strategy is upside-down, as digital strategist Matthew Daniels pointed out in a recent piece, “Strategy in Reverse.”
Development teams have been using agile techniques for long enough that other business departments have begun to pay attention. Agile is a method of planning, tracking, and evolving strategies and solutions through collaboration between self-organising, cross-functional teams. It really works, and not just for tech but for strategy and, interestingly, for managing digital transformation across a business.
Agile can cut across silos and unify stakeholders to achieve results in the short term. Of course, over time, these results accrete, become something larger and thus transformative. Human psychology being what it is, the small step is easier to contemplate and achieve than the 1,000-mile journey.
Marketing planning and execution would benefit from following this development model and becoming more agile. Or, to put it bluntly: go agile or fail slowly and inevitably. Audiences are reacting faster than marketers, so the lag between campaign design and execution is becoming an opportunity cost. This delay is often caused by technology, as IT departments are faced with the intricate dance required to get changes scoped, approved, built, and tested across so many interconnected systems.
By focusing on “how,” we get tangled up in questions around software design and development, rather than treating software as a utility or a commodity. Energy we should be spending on creative and campaigns goes into research on technologies and platforms. Time is wasted, budgets get caught up, and marketing opportunities are lost because of our inability to react.
An integrated marketing platform that can handle the tech heavy-lifting is part of the solution because it allows for focusing of corporate energies on the creative and analytical aspects of campaigns, rather than wrestling with the software. Tech departments should focus on data analysis and real-time optimization throughout the life of a campaign, rather than the typical approach of build, deliver, and maintain.
Mobile marketing offers a real-world example of how agile could improve responsiveness.
Mobile is not a new concept: The Asia-Pacific region has been debating the how and why of mobile marketing campaigns for at least five years. Vast numbers of people in the region already use smartphones and mobile broadband, and it’s estimated another 500 million will come online over the next three years. But how many marketing strategies are still bogged down in conventional Web development rather than jumping straight to mobile?
Given such a lack of agility and adaptation with respect to an “established” technology, how will marketers respond to emerging challenges, such as optimisation and personalisation?
Decisions around content, workflow, analytics, optimisation, personalisation, social, and mobile should be prioritised according to our future business requirements, not to those of the past or even present business requirements. By the time we execute, the business future is upon us, our competitors are on the same playing field, and we risk being disrupted or disintermediated.
Agile helps with this prioritisation, as well as allowing us to respond quickly to new trends and emerging customer behavioural data.
After all, this is all about the customer experience–isn’t it?