This wake-up call would have major consequences if ignored

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Bob Barker, VP of Corporate Marketing, Alterian
Bob Barker, VP of Corporate Marketing, Alterian

A recent report by the CMO Council, Calibrate How You Operate, can be summarized by its bold opening statement: "Marketing is the most challenged and most complex business unit". The report serves as a timely and serious wake-up call for both marketers and senior management to understand that, although the marketplace has changed beyond all recognition due to Web 2.0 and the explosion in digital — marketing technology and process have not kept up with the changes. The consequences of ignoring this wake-up call, particularly within the context of the current volatility of global markets, are very serious.

The CMO report findings show that even as global companies aspire to keep pace with dramatic market shifts and uncertain economic forecasts, major operational changes appear extremely difficult to achieve. These improvements can only be brought about if driven by integrated marketing technology that is designed for the speed of marketing and the scale of the Internet. If marketers can pull together all of the data, users, channels, analysis, execution and reporting, not only does the marketing department become more streamlined, process-driven and accountable, but the CMO has access to analytics to drive both decisions and execution.

Here are just five examples of the consequences of not investing in the technology transformation of marketing:

— If CRM isn't linked to a marketing engine that can deliver, then the potential value of all the customer data a company holds is locked up and wasted.

— If marketers can't segment and target customers more intelligently, with decent tools, then costly, irrelevant, ineffective marketing campaigns will reign.

— If a company's Web site is disengaging and uninteresting, its brand will be damaged.

— If digital marketers don't get the tools they need to create ongoing customer engagement and the flexibility to test and try new ideas, then they will soon find jobs elsewhere.

— If customers are not afforded the opportunity to interact on a one to one basis with a company, and trust that their feedback will be acted upon and their experience of that company therefore optimized, then they will not remain loyal.

So, although it would be easier to assent and accept the inevitable cuts in budgets, we need to realize it's actually time to lead, to get the marketing operational machine in shape so it can make the difference the organization needs to achieve growth even in these challenging times.  To do that, we, as marketers, must invest in technologies that will create the foundation for efficient, targeted marketing initiatives that will ultimately stretch every marketing dollar to the fullest.

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