… to unique customer needs, including the content and tone, as well as the channels used to deliver the messages, says Peter DeBenedictis.
In part two of his two-part interview with MarTech Vibe, Peter DeBenedictis, CMO, Microsoft Middle East and Africa, speaks about data, personalisation, digital transformation, and much more. Peter also lists his top three MarTech solutions for 2019.
What are the challenges that organisations are facing in terms of digital transformation in the Middle East? What role does marketing play in digital transformation?
With today’s technology intensity, building the right digital skills is on the top of everyone’s agenda. Without the appropriate skills, digital transformation can never happen. Fortunately, we’re seeing a heightened commitment to expanding digital literacy programmes, both from the public and private sector.
All industries are being disrupted by technology, and using digital tools to build customer-centricity is becoming a priority. Marketers can play a unique role in understanding specific customers and behaviours, and help their organisations develop new business models that will answer their customers’ needs today and in the future. Because of this, I think it’s imperative for marketers to be in the middle of the conversation when it comes to their business’ digital transformation.
How important is data and analytics for marketers? How can marketers use predictive analytics to better their marketing performances?
Data and analytics have always been important for marketers, both to understand their customers and the success of their activities in targeting those customers. Using data in this way is never going to change. Technology is just enhancing the process, making the data available faster and analytics more advanced. Tools like Microsoft Dynamics 365, for example, have embedded intelligence and analytics to track marketing performance and improve ROI. Technology like AI and machine learning is also able to continually learn and evolve, pulling out current trends and predicting future ones.
With predictive analytics, marketers can better optimise campaigns, act with more agility, prepare for market shifts and even prevent crises. The ability to lead your customers through a carefully designed and personalised purchase journey bring significant competitive advantages.
Also Read: Dark Data: A Marketer’s Gold Mine
How is personalisation changing the face of marketing? What are the benefits of having a customer-centric marketing strategy that is personalised to the customer’s needs?
Consumers are savvy, and today predominantly digital natives who expect personalised content and services. They don’t have the time and patience for marketing messages that aren’t relevant to them – and have full power to skip the ad, change the channel or turn the device off. Data helps marketers create messages and conversations that are personalised to unique customer needs, including the content and tone, as well as the channels used to deliver the messages. By focusing on helping your audience achieve their goals, you not only create new customers but also life-long fans. These fans will be more vocal about your brand and help spread the word more quickly.
As a CMO, how do you convince your boardroom to adopt a technology-first approach? What are some of the key things to consider when building a MarTech stack?
As I mentioned earlier, mindset, and culture filter from the top down. When Satya Nadella joined Microsoft as CEO in 2014, for example, Microsoft focused on humanising our brand and taking a customer-centric approach. This transformation required a fresh marketing strategy, with more personalized content and customer experiences, tracking and analysing of the entire purchase journey, and forging life-long relationships with our customers. In short, it was about introducing our company culture to our marketing. I believe – and results show – it’s been a successful transition because it had the right leadership. To encourage a technology-first approach in any boardroom, you need leaders who lead by example.
Digital transformation can feel overwhelming and daunting. From upskilling to cybersecurity, there’s a lot to consider. My advice is to start small. Don’t start with a complete marketing overhaul. Start with just one product, service or campaign. This will give you room to learn, and ensure your processes are robust, measurable, and linked to specific ROI.
What do you think will be the top three MarTech solutions brands should invest in 2019?
Data analytics and cybersecurity take top priority. We’ve spoken about the importance of data and predictive intelligence in providing more personalised interactions. But marketers really need to take the privacy of data and cybersecurity incredibly seriously. Today, consumers and businesses are becoming far more sensitive to the interruption of their privacy by brands and platforms. Consumers feel they are constantly being monitored, and their personal data captured without consent. Marketers need to address this, particularly when collecting and analysing consumer data, and understand that they are important custodians of private information.
Tied in with that is cybersecurity. Not only is having the data important but protecting it in the most appropriate way is even more so.
I’d encourage marketing teams to seek out a trusted cloud provider to invest in both data analytics and cybersecurity. Embracing cloud computing is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s the best way for agencies and marketers to protect the integrity and the privacy of the data, but also to protect their own system.
In part one of his two-part interview with MarTech Vibe, Peter speaks at-length about AI, a topic very close to his heart. He also sheds some light on IIoT and immersive technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).