Given the rapid pace at which technology, as well as the consumer, is changing, marketers need to start driving and helping businesses to make the right decisions around technology so that IT becomes a strategic asset that enables business. At the same time, IT plans should be integrated into business and marketing strategy, because marketing strategy is business strategy.
Microsoft South Africa’s marketing and communications director, Andisa Ntsubane, was a keynote speaker at a recent annual Southern African Marketing Research Association (SAMRA) conference in Gauteng. These are his insights:
1. Ultimately, the customer is king, and in this connected day and age, companies and marketers must ensure that they delight the customer in every respect.
2. Compared to 2009, when business process improvement, virtualisation, business insights and attracting and retaining customers topped CIO’s priorities – in 2012 they think very differently, with mobility, cloud computing, business intelligence and analytics, and social media, currently their business and technology priorities.
3. It’s expected that by 2020, mobile, cloud, social and big data technologies will drive at least 80% of the IT industry’s growth, therefore CIO’s, IT-decision makers and marketers all need to think about these developments and trends as they deploy technology and think about the future of their organisations.
4. At the same time, cloud and social computing, data explosion, browser-based apps, both in the personal and corporate space, personal devices in the workplace, ubiquitous connectivity and natural interaction are driving the consumerisation of technology. It is against this backdrop that marketers, as well as CIO’s, need to craft their future and marketers need to ask questions about how they can start influencing, driving and helping their business to make the right decisions around technology because ultimately, marketing strategy is about business strategy.
5. Likewise, marketers must become the real custodians of the consumer, understanding what the consumer is doing, where they make their purchase decisions and really influencing IT to make the right decisions in terms of purchasing. Technology has influenced how marketers think about segmentation.
6. Most companies are getting excited about “digital” – in reality, it is not about digital as digital is just a channel. Marketing strategies should not start with the channel. They should always be driven by the consumer: it has to start with the consumer. It’s about what consumers are doing, what drives them, what enables them. Ultimately it’s about individualising and personalising the consumer’s wants and needs. This allows marketers to build relationships which ultimately drive revenue.
7. For marketers, the problem is to make themselves heard and engage with consumers amidst the clutter of new technology and media platforms, and to become effective. It’s about marketers making sure of their core value proposition, understanding where consumers are and where they are heading, reassessing the position of the brand and the organisation, learning how to adapt and evolve (because everything changes so rapidly) and ensuring that they truly delight the customer.
8. Marketers must deepen their understanding of consumers’ IT use and habits (their use of tablets, smart phones, social media, etc), cloud computing and apps in order to market their products and services effectively in an ever evolving world. Already most companies are using multiple clouds – 86%, while it’s expected that by 2013, 21 billion apps will be downloaded as opposed to 5 billion apps in 2010.