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How To Manage The Explosive Marketing Technology Landscape

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The line between marketing and IT is becoming blurred in many organizations. As digital transformation (workforce and consumer mobility, social collaboration, cloud computing, big data and applications) takes center stage, Mayur Gupta, Global Head of Marketing Technology & Innovation for Kimberly-Clark has spent the past few years removing the line all together. As the marketing technology leader for a 22 billion dollar manufacturer of paper products, Gupta sits at the intersection between marketing and technology.


Mayur Gupta, Chief Marketing Technologist, Kimberly-Clark

Gupta describes his role of marketing technologist as being part creative, part strategist and part technologist; someone who converges the conventionally silo worlds of marketing and technology.
Here, Gupta gives advice to marketers and technologists on dealing with the massive challenge of cutting through the noise of the marketing technology landscape that is "literally chaotic" to deliver a seamless, omni-channel user experience.

4 Ways to Manage the Marketing Technology Landscape

1. Drive some cadence around the chaos - Gupta finds the speed at which technology is going to be fascinating, but behind the fascination of various marketing technology maps (Gartner's technology transit map and IDC's technology market map) resides a massive amount of challenge for brands who are left to figure out how to drive some cadence around the chaos of the marketing technology landscape. The task of deciding which technology to choose in a landscape that boasts over 1,000 marketing technology companies offering different capabilities is like choosing a needle in a haystack. Is it any wonder that 81% of large companies now have a chief marketing technologist role? "Marketing technology management is a big task, it's not just about selecting relevant technology to your brand and consumer, but more importantly it's about how you read these technologies and the data that is getting unleashed from all these touch points with each of them," says Gupta.

His advice is to resist the temptation to adopt every single technology that is out there: "Don't be technology obsessed, but be consumer obsessed. At the end of the day it is about what problem are you solving for the consumer and what you really need as a brand to add value to their life," says Gupta. Gupta and his team created a framework to manage the chaos that allows them to break down their technology needs into three buckets - enterprise, tactical and innovation. Because the need, impact, investment and speed across that landscape vary tremendously, this framework helps them to define the right capabilities for their brands to engage with consumers, which capabilities are really relevant to their brand, which are the right partners to enable those capabilities and how these capabilities work together.

2. Create a seamless experience for the consumer - In order to create a seamless experience for the consumer, it's important to not look at technologies in isolation, but to use data and technology to weave these capabilities into each other. When looking at the marketing technology landscape you need to first identify the role and responsibility of each one of those capabilities and stick with those that complement the different technologies you already have in your landscape and make sure they are talking to each other. "Technology and data have to be the links that connect these capability areas so you can fully drive a seamless, omni-channel experience to your customer," says Gupta.

Gupta says that brands and marketers today are multi-channel, while consumers are omni-channel. Brands are trying to put a tick mark on each of these channels where they exist, but lack the ability to create a seamless experience for the consumer who is seamlessly jumping from one channel to another and expecting to see a very connected experience. "I look at multi-channel as a very mechanical approach to being present across all channels, touch points and devices. Omni-channel is where you are strategically present and connecting the dots and leveraging data and insights to make sure it's a journey and not a broken pathway for the consumer," says Gupta.

3. Invest in digital innovation - According to a recent IDC marketing survey, in the next two years marketing technology will account for half of the marketing budget. "Marketing is now all about consumer engagement and doing everything we can to be there with the consumer and predict what the consumer wants before they need it," says Gupta. Kimberly-Clark has invested in a Digital Innovation Lab to find and pilot new ideas for brands, learn how to work with start-ups and learn how to be more agile in marketing. The lab is a multi-collaborative, thought-leadership initiative that sits at the intersection of marketing, product innovation and channel innovation. "Our focus is to be the orchestrators and the facilitators of innovation by tapping into the outside world, we want the world to be our innovation lab and tap into all the energy in the outside community," says Gupta.

In order to stay ahead of innovation, Gupta has also started to ear mark a special budget for emerging technologies, which he defines as solutions that already exist but have not yet been tapped into by their brands. His team has an ongoing way of evaluating new capabilities on a weekly basis, as a proactive way of keeping on top of what is happening in the world. At the same time, they are building new partnerships with agencies that are helping them to connect with everything that is going on in Silicon Valley. A core goal and function of the Digital Innovation Lab is new technology and idea scouting to allow Kimberly-Clark to build a strong network of start-ups and incubators who are giving them insight into their pipeline, allowing them to test and try out new technologies.

4. Eliminate the line between marketing and IT - According to Gupta, "The IT organization is right at the center of everything we are doing, there is no line. We have put in the effort to kill the line and drop the silos because otherwise we would not be successful." At the end of the day, both marketing and IT are in service of the brand with the common objective to enable their local brands to win across the globe. Gupta says that the Information Technology transformation is no different than the transformation that marketing is going through. Regardless of where you sit, everyone needs to move to the point of convergence, because that is where the consumer sits. He quotes one of his favorite books, Converge by Razorfish CEO and CTO: "In today's world the biggest challenge is that the consumer experiences are a reflection of how the companies are organized." Because companies are fragmented in the way they operate, they cannot drive that connected and seamless experience for the consumer.

In order to work seamlessly with IT to create that seamless experience for the consumer, Gupta's team has created a marketing technology group that is at the intersection of the marketing and the IT organization. "The way we kill the silos is by making the silos complement each other. We have created a model where we agree that there are core skills and competencies that marketing brings to the table, while at the same time recognizing the must-have capabilities that an IT organization brings," says Gupta. The group is made up of marketing technologists and IT professionals that understand the nuances of marketing. He describes the partnership as a two-headed monster - while marketing technology and IT are connected hip-to-hip they are both looking in two different directions. One is looking at brands, agencies, marketing capabilities, speed, agility, analytics and data to drive consumer experience. The other is looking at technology parts, architecture, scale, security and performance.

Calling all start-ups - I just love that fact that a 22 billion dollar company is investing in an innovation lab and has huge respect for start-ups and every unique idea. If you are a start-up, Gupta says that they are like a sponge right now, and if you have an idea, they have a channel and a pipe for you to share that idea with them. Gupta closes with this advice for how start-ups should engage with him: "If anyone is telling me about a technology, I am already disappointed. If you tell me about the problem you are trying to solve for the consumer, I will listen." Sounds like a great opportunity to me!

You can watch the full interview with Mayur Gupta here. Please join me and Michael Krigsman every Friday at 3PM EST as we host CXOTalk - connecting with thought leaders and innovative executives who are pushing the boundaries within their companies and their fields.

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