IT isn't the only department challenged by the growth of the Internet. Marketers are also struggling to identify how the Internet’s natural maturity affects their businesses, getting organizational commitment for a customer-centric focus, and building key partnerships within their organizations, according to panelists at an afternoon Adobe Summit session, in Salt Lake City.
That the experience of every consumer is becoming as unique as a fingerprint represents the Internet's biggest transformation, said Suresh Vittal, VP of digital marketing strategy at Adobe (CMO.com's parent company). The panel of speakers called this the “Internet of Me.” Another big transformation is the various ways that the Internet can now be accessed: desktop, mobile phone, tablet, wearables, and now Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Adobe recently conducted a study on consumer reactions to the transformation of the Internet. When asked about IoT devices, 61% of consumers said they plan to interact with their home electronics, 54% expect by next year to interact with home appliances, and 51% expressed interest in interacting with their cars.
On the wearables front, 27% of consumers who don’t already have a smartwatch plan to buy one in the next six months, and 67% of those willing stated they would purchase an iWatch. Additionally, 77% feel it is useful to get promotions in the store on their wearables.
Also part of the study was a look at mobile wallets, which nearly half of consumers said they will use in the next six months.
“Marketers get this,” Vittal told attendees. “They understand that as consumers move, they, too, have to move, and our research found that 74% percent of marketers will do something about their IoT and wearable tech strategies in the coming months. It is a big priority for them.”
Internet Transformation Impact
Lenovo VP and GM of global e-commerce Ajit Sivadasan warned attendees about the hype surrounding the business impact of IoT and wearable devices. Additionally, most marketers are still primitive in their adoption of the Internet of Me concept. That includes Lenovo, he said, which has 1 billion-plus visitors annually to Lenovo.com--the majority of whom don’t transact.
“Our instinct has been to treat most visitors the same way,” Sivadasan said. “We try and be transactional with them. Our struggle is providing different experiences for different groups of people. Things like segmentation and using behavioral data for personalization seem basic, but we haven’t mastered that yet.”
Jen McClure, VP of digital and social media at Thomson Reuters, also admitted that her company’s Web strategy is very “primitive.”
“Our company helps professionals act with confidence in a complex world,” McClure said. “We help them find what they are looking for and make connections to be more successful and innovative. In marketing we also want to deliver on that. But we have a disconnected Web presence. We’re trying to create a consistent and usable marketing experience at every consumer touch point.”
Similarly John Sahagian, VP of marketing at Baxter Credit Union, cited a disconnect in his organization’s Web strategy in uniting data from various touch points to build a consistent experience across both online and offline channels.
Getting organizational commitment for the Internet of Me was a huge challenge at Lenovo, Sivadasan said, especially since 95% of the company’s revenue comes from traditional, channel-based business, and the fact that the sophistication needed for an e-commerce supply chain is a very big undertaking.
“We are finally waking up to the idea that this is really important,” Sivadasan said. “We are talking about reconfiguring the factory so that we could service someone placing an order in Turkey, where the order is filled in China, and we manage to get it to their doorstep in a few days. When a company starts to do e-commerce, everything in the ecosystem becomes magnified. And it’s much less of a tech problem and more of an organizational issue, making it more difficult to embark on the transformation.”
At Thomson Reuters, getting company buy-in was difficult given all the work needed on the back end to truly embrace the Internet of Me,” McClure said.
Companywide buy-in about the Internet of Me, along with understanding consumer demands for personalization, takes time and persuasion, Sahagian added.
Key Internal Partnerships
Traditionally, marketing has operated in a silo. But, according to Sahagian, the only way to truly embrace the Internet of Me is for marketing to partner with different parts of the business.
“The most important partnership is obvious,” Sahagian said. “Marketing and IT have come closer and closer because IT is critical in bringing the legacy systems and channels up to speed.”
At Thomson Reuters, the Digital Center of Excellence (CoE) has helped fill the need for formal collaboration. The CoE has an advisory board made up of people from all over the company who have united the company's disparate CRM and Web data. And key partnerships among marketing, tech, privacy, legal, brand, and global learning are making the Internet of Me a reality within the organization.
“Privacy and legal is really important,” McClure said. “They keep us honest. We have to remember we are given a gift when a customer gives us their data. We have to honor that. It is really important to be guided by those experts.”
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