There’s no doubt that technology is changing faster than ever before. At the heart of that in the business setting is marketing, which is becoming a driving force behind putting that new technology into action to reach out to customers and make sure a company is communicating in the right way. One of the biggest changes in the tech and marketing world is artificial intelligence, which will play a major role in the coming years.
According to Morag Lucey, the CMO of Avaya, a modern CMO needs to understand all the intricacies of modern technology, including AI. That’s because new technology changes the way marketers do their jobs—in order to truly be effective, they must really understand which technology is the most relevant and how it works. AI wasn’t even on the radar of many marketers just a few years ago, and now it is one of the fastest-growing technologies. Staying on top of things is vital. The new generation in marketing means that the paradigm has shifted and now marketing is responsible for a larger portion of the pipeline. Technology requires companies to continually transform—what Avaya started out doing 100 years ago is now obsolete, meaning the company has had to transform and pivot many times since it was founded. Marketers are key in helping their company transform and in understanding how to change a company’s identity through technology.
Marketing really comes down to communication and making sure you are interacting with customers in the best way. As technology becomes more integral, the CMO, CIO, customer experience officer, and others all play a part in ensuring that the customer experience is seamless. Much of this will happen through machine learning and taking advantage of robots and AI to communicate with customers quickly and efficiently.
One of Morag’s biggest concerns with changing technology is how it affects the skillsets of employees. The entire discipline of marketing is changing, meaning it is more important than ever to have strong talent in an organization. Investing in employees to ensure they have the skills they need for the future is absolutely critical. Artificial intelligence will play a major role in marketing, which means having employees who can understand the process and visualize how to combine human interaction with machine learning will be huge.
As for the future of marketing, Morag predicts that marketing will be the top revenue generator for companies within five years, meaning that now is the time to get a firm grasp on technology and how it can transform a company. AI and other technology is transforming how companies operate and market themselves. Leveraging that technology can make all the difference in a successful company that avoids getting disrupted.
It’s an age-old marketing question: do you focus on all our customers or only target those who are most likely to drive results? According to Dr. Peter Fader, marketing professor at Wharton, and Tiffani Bova, global customer growth and innovation evangelist for Salesforce, the answer is simple: customer centricity.
The idea behind customer centricity is to recognize that not all customers are created equal. Building on the differences in the customer base can be much more effective than simply using a blanket approach for all customers. By focusing on top customers and surrounding them with product recommendations and extra services, they can have an excellent experience and keep coming back for more. That’s not to say that middle and lower-tier customers should be forgotten—effort should still be put into finding the right messages and products to appeal to them, but the focus should be on targeting the right products and messages to each customer group individually.
In order to truly utilize customer centricity, a company should have a good idea of its brand and why it appeals to customers. Using the vast amount of data now available, teams can see what the customers bring to the brand and what the brand brings to the customers. By understanding what drives a customer to use your product or service, you can better appeal to their needs and know how to reach out to them in the future. Much of that comes from building a strong brand that customers feel they can trust. When customers feel they can connect with a brand, they are more inclined to repeat their business, especially when that strong brand messaging is combined with product recommendations they can trust and use.
Companies that best practice customer centricity make it an integral part of their brand and make a focus on the customer a hallmark of their work and culture. Customer experience is just one part of customer centricity, and companies that can build their brands, reach out to the right customers, and leverage metrics will be able to create a loyal customer base and drive great success.
Artificial intelligence seems to be popping up everywhere, and it has the potential to change nearly everything we know about data and the customer experience. However, it also brings up new issues regarding ethics and privacy.
One of the keys to keeping AI ethical is for it to be transparent, says Rob High, vice president and chief technology officer of IBM Watson. When customers interact with a chatbot, for example, they need to know they are communicating with a machine and not an actual human. AI, like most other technology tools, is most effective when it is used to extend the natural capabilities of humans instead of replacing them. That means that AI and humans are best when they work together and can trust each other.
Chatbots are one of the most commonly used forms of AI. Although they can be used successfully in many ways, there is still a lot of room for growth. As they currently stand, chatbots mostly perform basic actions like turning on lights, providing directions, and answering simple questions that a person asks directly. However, in the future, chatbots should and will be able to go deeper to find the root of the problem. For example, a person asking a chatbot what her bank balance is might be asking the question because she wants to invest money or make a big purchase—a futuristic chatbot could find the real reason she is asking and turn it into a more developed conversation. In order to do that, chatbots will need to ask more questions and drill deeper, and humans need to feel comfortable providing their information to machines.
As chatbots perform various tasks and become a more integral part of our lives, the key to maintaining ethics is for chatbots to provide proof of why they are doing what they are doing. By showcasing proof or its method of calculations, humans can be confident that AI had reasoning behind its response instead of just making something up. The chances of AI truly going “rogue” are small, but they still need to be considered, and in order to maintain transparency and trust, the machine’s processes should be revealed. An example of this comes from IBM Watson, which is used to help doctors diagnose patients and decide the best treatment options. Doctors can’t possibly keep up with all of the data and new studies being created every day, but Watson can scan through millions of records for new data and treatment suggestions. By showing where the information and recommendations are coming from, Watson expands what human doctors can do and provides them with resources to make the best decisions for their patients. Watson isn’t making decisions for the doctors, but instead is presenting options with the proof to back it up.
The future of technology is rooted in artificial intelligence. In order to stay ethical, transparency, proof, and trustworthiness need to be at the root of everything AI does for companies and customers. By staying honest and remembering the goals of AI, the technology can play a huge role in how we live and work.
A commercial that starts with a bank robbery and ends by showcasing digital technology and customer experience might not be conventional, but that was never the goal of Adobe and its CMO, Ann Lewnes. Instead, the company created an attention-grabbing ad that reached out to customers and kept their attention. Adobe is an experience-based company that known for its digital creativity as a way to engage with customers and create a community and shows how pushing the bounds of creativity can lead to great success.
Ann pushes creativity by giving her employees long-term goals to works towards. The goal may seem aspirational or far-fetched, but it inspires people, encourages risk-taking, and pushes them to think bigger. One of Ann’s team’s most recent big ideas was a contest to celebrate the 25th anniversary of video editing program Premiere Pro, one of Adobe’s biggest products. The company partnered with the band Imagine Dragons and released the raw footage of the band’s newest music video with the challenge to use Premiere Pro to re-edit the video however customers felt was inspiring. The creative idea yielded more than 9,000 entries and was a huge hit on social media that created a community of younger users. More than just being an attention-grabbing creative idea, the contest showcased the product and followed business strategy.
Creativity doesn’t come with free reign to do whatever you want, however. Adobe is also focused on inspection and making sure teams can quantifiably show their results. With tools made available to marketers these days, it’s possible to back up a creative idea with numbers. Even the most creative idea can be a flop if it isn’t backed up with data. Another key to creativity is being aware of trends and what other companies are doing. With a strong team to manage the business, each person can keep an eye on what competitors are doing and use that to fuel their own creativity. To be truly successful, marketers need to be able to use both sides of their brain and be analytical and creative.
As companies tap into creativity and learn to push the limits, they can build on their customer experience to create memorable, meaningful events and interactions for their customers. When considering customer experience as the sum of the interactions a person has with a brand, being creative provides more opportunities to stand out and push that sum higher in customers’ minds.
What has turned into a successful career as an author and keynote speaker started with a birthday party magic performance as a young boy. When Shep Hyken was just 12 years old, he gave his first presentation of sorts by performing tricks in front of an audience of other kids. Years later, he would begin a full-time speaking career that tapped into much of what he did as a young magician.
Shep’s professional speaking career has lasted more than 30 years and provides many opportunities for teaching others who want to follow his career path. However, he warns that although professional speaking may seem like a “sexy” career, it actually isn’t that glamorous most of the time. The real job isn’t simply giving the speech, it’s getting the speech. The real work comes from finding speaking gigs and preparing remarks to make every speech and presentation the best it has ever been.
Professional speaking can be a lucrative and interesting path, but it is also extremely competitive. In order to stand out from the crowd, Shep provides the following tips:
Once a speech has been booked, preparation is key. Shep starts getting ready for a presentation six weeks or a month before the big day by deciding what to speak on and how it will flow. He then asks the client the three most important points for the audience to remember and makes sure he addresses them in the speech. From there, it’s preparing his speech, putting the bullet points on a single index card, and practicing and reviewing until he doesn’t even really need to use the card. He makes arrangements so that he is at the venue on time both physically and mentally so he can give his best effort to every speech.
The world of professional speaking can be exciting and open doors to new opportunities, but it often requires energy, preparation, and determination to be successful. However, by following in Shep’s footsteps, you can also build a strong speaking career.