Having the right internal organizational structure in place is key to marketing success, according to Helena Norrman, CMO of Ericsson, the world’s largest provider of wireless technology. She’s backing her words with action.
“Our first priority will be to set up a new digital development team that will drive digital strategy and enable execution across all channels and stakeholders,” Norrman said.
In this exclusive interview with CMO.com, Norrman discussed her digital and mobile challenges, putting big data to work, and what she wants to talk about a year from now.
CMO.com: Let’s talk about you first. How long have you been at Ericsson, and where were you before?
Norrman: I first joined Ericsson in 1998–in the press office–after working for a few years in PR agencies. This was during the dot-com hype, and I was planning to stay for three years to gain experience from a global company. That was 16 years ago, and I am still here. I have stayed because I really like the company and what it stands for. I find it inspiring to go to work every day knowing that we are part of changing and shaping the world for the better. Also, there are so many career opportunities across the different fields of marketing and communications and all across the world, so every time I have thought of leaving something new has come up that was just too good to say no to.
CMO.com: What was the biggest challenge for you last year from a digital marketing perspective?
Norrman: Ericsson operates in hundreds of countries and across many different channels. It is always a challenge to be able to communicate directly, from employees to partners, particularly as we continue to engage with broader audiences.
CMO.com: What are your digital priorities in 2015?
Norrman: Our first priority is to set up a new digital development team that will drive digital strategy and enable execution across all channels and stakeholders. A key priority is our Internet presence, including mobile and social, with a focus on building an action-driven Internet presence.
CMO.com: Do you know what your marketing is doing? I know you can measure banner ad click-throughs, social engagement, and the like, but can you put it all together and make a quantifiable case for marketing’s effect on Ericsson’s overall business?
Norrman: This is one of the really big questions in marketing–how to build the quantifiable case. We are measuring a lot of key performance indicators, but we have yet to find the formula to quantify the business value in financial terms. It is a top priority area for us, just as for many other organizations, and we combine learning from others with exploring what factors are most important to us. One set of measurements we take is market track and brand track, which show how our efforts align with marketing goals and with brand goals on a regular basis. We measure everything we do and build our plans off of that.
CMO.com: Have you figured out big data yet? Are you at the point where you can analyze and act on it?
Norrman: Big data is something we’re exploring from a marketing perspective. The potential is there, and we’re excited about what we have seen thus far, but as an industry, we’re still in the early days.
CMO.com: Who is Ericsson’s target audience, and how do you market to them?
Norrman: Ericsson as a company is traditionally a business-to-business company, but we want to stay relevant in a largely consumer-oriented age. One of the things we’re working on is broader brand recognition. Within the industry, we are very well-known, and, with a relatively dense group of large customers, we have not needed broad brand visibility from a consumer perspective. Looking ahead, however, we’re seeing new customer segments and new opportunities opening up, which put very different requirements on the brand.
CMO.com: What are some of the biggest mobile challenges you face? Cross-device attribution? Measurement?
Norrman: As the world leader in mobile networks, mobile marketing and communications is obviously a key priority for us. Defining our strategy going forward will be a priority for the new digital development team that we are setting up, but we are already experimenting across both internal and external mobile channels and apps.
CMO.com: What’s your relationship like with your technology counterpart at Ericsson? Are the two of you are working together more now than just one year ago? Why is the tech-marketing relationship so important?
Norrman: I have a very good and longstanding collaboration with our CTO. Our strategy is built on a combination of technology and services leadership, so the technology component is crucial to us. We have deepened the relationship between the two teams over the last couple of years, especially in how to build our vision of a networked society. Our deep understanding of how the technology will likely develop is a key ingredient to how we build industry thought leadership.
To this point, we produce a biannual Mobility Report, which defines trends and predicts developments in mobile usage worldwide based on our knowledge of the networks and relevant insights for the industry. The insights we glean help further R&D efforts as a company, and having such a broad reach through the joint force of our technology and marketing organizations is integral to staying relevant and connected to the telecommunications and broader ICT industry
CMO.com: What’s your advice for CMOs? What should they resolve to do in the next 12 monthse?
Norrman: Part of the genesis of our joining of the marketing and communications groups at Ericsson was the realization that we’ve reached a point where we need to engage with stakeholders in a different way. Integrating the communications perspective into our marketing of the broader networked society vision is imperative to being a more adaptable brand worldwide. It is taking these perspectives into account that has allowed us to make major changes, and I encourage other CMOs to consider the value of joining forces with their communications people and to work in tandem.
CMO.com: What is the most important question I did not ask?
Norrman: We are at an inflection point in our industry and in society at large, entering into a networked society where everything that benefits from being connected will be connected. The question that I am trying to get my head around is how this will change how we do marketing, how we communicate, and how we build brand. I don’t hold all of the answers, but what we see across all areas and industries is that it will drive efficiency, new business models, new ways to engage with stakeholders, and new ways to slice the flows with horizontal integration that will define completely new flows. This is still a bit on the theoretical side, but let’s discuss again in a year and see what has happened.
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