Digital has changed the game for marketers, who strive to excel in an industry that never stands still.
To do so, some companies have created new business units, or “Centers of Excellence” (CoE), which are charged with chasing innovation and setting five-star digital best practices throughout their organizations. Here’s a peek into the CoEs at Purina, PepsiCo, JPMorgan Chase, Adobe, and GE.
1. Nestlé Purina PetCare
The Nestle Purina Petcare CoE acts almost like a consultant to all of the company’s brands. It is run by Chris Padgett, VP of marketing and head of digital at the company.
“My primary role is to lead all things digital for Purina, which, at a high level, is about building organizational capabilities to employ digital marketing to further brand objectives and strategy,” said Padgett in an eMarketer interview. “Part of that is building the infrastructure to help our marketers do this—whether it’s around social listening, search, CRM, sharing best practices, identifying agency partners, or spearheading partnerships with Facebook or Twitter. My team serves our marketing organization, and we’re trying to build brand affinity and sales digitally.”
The CoE consists of 15 individuals who are experts in search, social media, CRM, mobile, and other digital channels. They set the standards and best practices while also ensuring Nestle Purina is positioned for the next big opportunity.
PepsiCo first rolled out its advertising and media-focused CoE in 2011, naming Richard Bellas head of the group. The aim of the CoE was to ensure Pepsi leveraged a global approach to media and marketing procurement.
“The creation of the CoE for Global Marketing Services is the latest way in which the company is driving against its Power of One strategic imperative,” a Pepsi spokeswoman told Advertising Age. “Power of One is a strategy that entails making the company's myriad businesses more cohesive.”
Today, Pepsi has a CoE for media, creative, and advertising, and the groups in each are tasked with setting best practices for the company globally. For a large organization like Pepsi, it’s especially important that everyone is on the same page. The CoEs make is possible.
3. JPMorgan Chase
The No. 1 driver for JPMorgan Chase’s CoE was speed, said Robert Tas, head of digital marketing at the company, in this video interview with McKinsey. The company’s CoE is tasked with helping the entire organization understand new and emerging technologies that digital has given birth to.
This first-mover mentality caused JPMC to take its best people and create an organization within the company to develop best practices. Additionally, the CoE acts as a digital agency of sorts, which helps marketing teams move fasterr.
“They have already started to infuse the digital DNA back into the lines of business in a very quick way,” Tas told McKinsey. “We’re now evolving and exploring, and we’re demanding to know and understand what the future capabilities are that we need.”
“The strategy behind the CoE stems from a common mistake companies make in social media,” said Cory Edwards, who runs the CoE, in an exclusive interview with CMO.com. “Companies do social media without having first figured out how to operationalize social media across the organization. A CoE done right could be looked at as social media operations.”
Adobe's CoE has four core pillars. The first is governance. That means setting social policies for the company as well as account management and brand alignment. The second is enablement, or making sure Adobe is training all of its employees, not just the social media managers.
The third pillar is measurement, under which the company makes sure it has a measurement framework and uses data to drive business insights. It's about making sure all the teams have a common approach to measurement, said Edwards, who hails from Dell’s CoE.
The last pillar is innovation, which, as the name implies, means looking at what is next, piloting new programs, and evaluating new technology, vendors, and tools.
5. General Electric
General Electric launched its CoE about three years ago as a way to organize for the fast pace of digital. At that time, digital was a separate organization from the rest of marketing at GE. This created a siloed approach to marketing.
The CoE is “tasked to think about tomorrow,” said Linda Boff, executive director, global brand marketing, GE, at a conference in New York earlier this year.
Some of these individuals sit in the marketing organization in-house, while some are outside of the marketing department. But their job, overall, is to watch the space and keep their fingers on the digital pulse. They’re responsible for finding all those new shiny objects and figuring out how GE can be part of the conversation.