What Keeps You Up At Night?

Apr 14, 2017

BY MICHELLE THOMAS – DIRECTOR, INTEGRATED MARKETING

Business leaders are often posed with this question: “What keeps you up at night?” It is the mother of all questions and unless asked, we often try to not think about it. The reality is that in business, some of those pesky worries that keep us tossing and turning are actually solvable. It might not happen overnight and it might not be easy, but they are indeed solvable.

My curious mind led me to conduct my own research, so I asked several marketing and customer experience leaders that very question. What might have otherwise felt like a therapy session, these leaders instead responded with focused, hard-to-solve questions, like:

  • How do I prove ROI on marketing technology and how can I drive incremental sales? What is the payback period?
  • Is there a solution out there that can do everything I need it to or is it best to choose a compartmentalized, best-of-breed solution that is highly configurable?
  • The function of CRM is actually creating silos in my company. How can I blend people, process, and technology but not lose sight of the customer?

What surprised me most about these answers is that I was expecting the same type of response as I got last year—how do I solve for big data or how do I manage and make sense of big data? When I asked about data specifically, the topic almost felt passé. And so I wonder, have we reached yet another paradigm shift? Maybe! The reality is that the challenges we face as business leaders are no longer just about the data—the challenge has evolved to the enabling element of how to use data, which boils down to technology.

Today’s marketing leaders are hoping to find that silver bullet—the single technology solution that will solve for disjointed customer experiences and improve the bottom line with minimal effort. But we all know that marketing technology alone is not going to fix those problems.

As an industry we are trying to solve for these big data and technology questions, but we are still problem solving in siloes. We have big data, now what? We have a technology solution, now what? Even with an eye towards solving data and technology constraints, the focus still isn’t quite right!

One of the biggest challenges that I see is that marketing and customer experience professionals are having a difficult time linking data and technology in a way that makes customer insights actionable and scalable! This might be the reason that more and more companies are hiring Marketing Technologists—to help them use technology in an effective manner that leads to a competitive advantage. Actionability is by no means a revolutionary concept, nor is it to be treated as a problem for only the business teams to solve.

The questions that business leaders are asking around data and technology probably do keep them up at night. However, I think there are bigger, more strategic questions that should be the real cause of insomnia:

  • Where are the leaks in my customer lifecycle and how do I fix them?
  • What are the pain points and drivers fueling my customer experience?
  • What is the long-term value of a customer relationship? How do I prioritize one customer segment over another?
  • If it really takes data, technology, and engagement strategy to drive action, what skillsets and expertise does my team need to have? Where are the gaps?

We are all trying to do right by our customers while balancing the need to create tangible business value. This does not come easy, and not without fundamental changes in the way we conduct business. Actionable intelligence is highly dependent on integrated customer interaction and data systems, deep customer insight, and processes that support scalable and sustainable execution.

Now let me ask you again—what keeps you up at night?