Digital Leaders Blog

marketing (2)

Next week I will be in Iceland delivering two half-day workshops.

The first session will examine the changing role of HR in an era of digital disruption.

The key motion being discussed during workshop two is whether marketing, as we know it, is becoming obsolete. Is the convergence of disruptive technologies (mobile connectivity, social media, the cloud, big data, predictive analytics, algorithms, IoT, AI, automation, cognitive computing, augmented reality and the blockchain), combined with the rapid emergence of a new generation of constantly connected customers (Gen C), leading to the end of marketing as usual?

Key discussion points will include:

  • Has the marketing profession adapted quickly enough to the digital era? Does the profession need to #adaptordie?
  • Are we viewing the world as it is or as we have always known it? Are we operating with out-of-date marketing paradigms? What are the new ‘rules’ of sales, marketing and PR in an era of customer empowerment? Content and engagement not broadcasting? Marketing as a two-way conversation with your customers?
  • Gen C - are we aligning marketing with the buying behaviour and growing expectations of constantly connected customers and digital natives?
  • On the web, do we still view customers as passive sheep just waiting to be driven to our web site? Is the linear sales funnel still relevant when ‘prospects’ and ‘targets’ are now in control?
  • Is ‘social selling’ the new B2B marketing?
  • What are the implications for brand management when the brand has become the customer experience of the brand, experiences that are widely shared across social platforms?
  • Should we all just ‘shut up and listen’, developing actionable insights from social media conversations?
  • Have social customer service, managing the online customer experience, word-of-mouth and community engagement become the new pillars of marketing success?
  • Is SME export support policy stuck in a 35 year, pre-digital time warp?
  • Do we need a new approach to measuring marketing performance and business impact?
  • What new marketing skills are required in a digital era? Are we developing next generation marketers? Is our marketing education system 'fit-for-purpose'? Does academic research in marketing have any relevance today?
  • How will emerging technologies such as the Blockchain, Big Data, IoT etc impact on marketing?
  • Are we ready for Marketing Darwinism, a phenomenon when technology and society evolve faster than our ability to adapt?

Hopefully, it will be an interesting session.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

A follow-up post will cover the key questions being addressed in the HR session.

Comment and join in the discussion on LinkedIn here.

Take care.

Jim H

Read more…

Next Generation Marketing Skills

While there is growing recognition of the need for digital transformation, industry leaders (with a few exceptions) lack the digital knowledge, understanding and confidence to drive change.  A new breed of senior executive is required - Digital Business Leaders - executives who can combine high level business knowledge, experience and understanding with the ability to develop and implement Digital Transformation Strategies fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives. Executives with the personal skills and confidence to deliver organisational transformation.

Where should these future digital leaders should come from?  Should they have an Information Technology or Business/Marketing background? 

The consensus seems to be that a new breed of Chief Information Officer (CIO) rather than Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is required. Indeed, a Forrester Report published in 2014 argued that the marketing profession has become a hindrance rather than driver of digital change. The fact that marketing tends to dominate digital responsibilities in most organisations, according to Forrester, represents a major barrier to digital transformation.  While marketing teams may be expert in areas such as social media, social CRM, customer analytics and so on, they pay little attention to how digital can transform internal business operations.

Has the marketing profession really become a hindrance to digital transformation or can it emerge as a major driver of change?

Digital transformation is really about building two-way engagement with customers, and internally with staff. Its natural home, in our view, should be marketing not IT.  However, for marketing to rise to the challenge of digital transformation a new generation of marketers, with a much broader skills set, will be required.

We list below the hybrid skills, knowledge and experience required by next generation marketers categorized into three main areas - Digital Strategy, Digital Management and Digital Marketing. Are our current marketing education programmes 'fit for purpose' in providing next generation marketers with these skills? Are our Business Schools developing Future Digital Leaders? Are we educating for the future or the past?

For marketing to be ready for the challenge of digital leadership, we need to ensure that our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills to deliver change. This will require more than the odd Social Media/Digital Marketing elective class on our programmes, often thrown in as an afterthought.  It will require a fundamental transformation of the marketing curriculum.

Digital Strategy

  • Research and Listening Skills - the ability to use digital technologies for developing actionable customer and market insights derived from Social Media Listening ensuring speed of response to rapidly changing marketing conditions.
  • Excellent knowledge of the whole digital marketing mix – Web Sites, SEO, Social, Mobile etc.
  • A clear understanding of the unique attitudes and behaviour of digital customers and digital natives, both B2B and B2C.
  • Strategy development - the ability to develop digital marketing and social media strategies fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives, with agreed KPIs and targets.
  • An understanding of how digital and social impacts on all value chain activities, not just marketing.
  • The ability to develop internal business transformation strategies.
  • An understanding of (Enterprise Social) - the way in which digital and social technologies can be used internally to improve communications flows, knowledge sharing, collaboration and operational efficiency.
  • The ability to monitor and evaluate the impact of emerging technologies - big data, Internet of Things etc.
  • The ability to devise new business models built on disruptive technology.

Digital Management

  • Project management skills – the ability to deliver on time, within budget, ensuring that key project objectives are achieved.
  • Client/Key Account and Agency Management Skills.
  • Change management skills.
  • General management and leadership skills - the ability to manage cross-functional teams, build relationships with key internal partners especially IT, and to drive organisational change.
  • Data analysis skills.

Digital Marketing

  • Content Strategy – the ability to develop a clear Content Strategy to support agreed objectives.
  • Content Management – the skills and experience to set up and effectively manage a content development team and Content Management System; copywriting skills; video and Photoshop editing etc.
  • Channel Specific Skills – the ability to successful integrate and management multiple online channels including websites, SEO; e-marketing; e-newsletters; social media channels including Blogs, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Youtube and others.
  • Analytics and Performance Measurement – the ability to work with web analytics, big data and social media performance measurement tools to deliver up-to-date progress reports to senior executives; providing actionable insights from the data generated.
  • A clear understanding of the growing importance of and ability to provide exceptional Social Customer Service and online customer experiences.


  • Software skills – the ability to work with a wide range of software packages e.g. Content Management Systems, Hootsuite, Buffer App, Feedly, Conversocial and others.
  • Finance budgeting and ROI.
  • Negotiating and presentation skills.
  • People skills.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

How well are our current marketing education programmes delivering the above?

Jim H

Read more…