Archive for January 27, 2015

computer code

Posted: January 27, 2015
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How technology is shaping the new business paradigm and where marketers fit in – Part One

As I write this the world’s fastest computer, The Chinese Tianhe-2A super-computer, can make around thirty-four thousand trillion calculations per second (or for the initiated – operates at 33.8 PetaFlops) – Incredible, isn’t it? However the critical part of this statement is the term “as I write this…” because, what is more incredible still is that by the time you read it, this number will undoubtedly have risen. Such is the pace of technological progress.

I can remember being hired by the first company I had worked for that had a computer. It occupied a room, comprised towers of reel-to-reel tapes and all it did was the accounting for a modest independent advertising agency. Prior to that, accounting tasks like this were undertaken by rooms full, not of electronics, but men and women with thick books and sharp pencils. Today anybody can do the same thing on a smartphone.

DunnHumby, the company that manages the data for the international supermarket chain Tesco, record millions of transactions a day, comprising tens of millions of individual items that DunnHumby can cross-reference to define the profile of individual customers and accurately predict their grocery shopping needs. This in turn enables them, theoretically, to make a unique, tailored offer to each of their customers every week with a reasonable expectation that the customer will buy it.  Thirty years ago, no retailer on earth had as many customers as the big players have today and there was certainly no expectation of ever knowing what they were buying with any degree of certainty, let alone predicting what they would buy next week.

Right now it’s possible to order the product of your dreams. From cars to clothing we can dictate colour, size and other features without even having a conversation with a human being. The tennis racket manufacturer Head already offer, not just a choice of colour and shape of our racket, but the stiffness at different points in its construction, so you are directly involved and influence the manufacturing process. Yes, we’ve come a long way in a short time, but hang on to your seats, it’s going to get a whole lot faster

We haven’t even begun to exploit the capability that technology currently affords us and already someone, somewhere is working on a way to increase that potential.

Just to get a better appreciation of how far we have come, here are five things that we now consider “everyday” that we couldn’t even do ten years ago:

  1. Order your weekly grocery shop for home delivery at a specified time
  2. Play just about any music track you wish on subscription without actually buying it.
  3. Pin-point any address in the world on a map and have the quickest route from your present location to that point plotted and dictated to you as you travel by foot, public transport or automobile.
  4. Back-up all your computer files, operate applications that you don’t have installed on your machine and share files via a cloud.
  5. Make a list of thousands of people just like your best customer and send them all a personalised e-mail about your product.

So, what does this mean for your business and how are you adapting to keep pace with this change?

In Part Two of this editorial, I’ll look at what this means for the shape of organisations and in particular marketing and marketing services businesses around the world.


Leonardo's helicopter

Posted: January 5, 2015
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Corporate aggregation and the da Vinci effect

As the role of marketing changes and expands at a rate never known before the profiles of the people doing it have to change too. There are new things to do, new disciplines to master and skills to perfect. Today’s markers have to understand areas like finance, HR and supply chain enough to influence the way they operate within the organisation, because we have come to realise that they are all contributing to marketing. There are also entirely new disciplines, like technological integration, data analysis and strategic development that haven’t featured in a marketer’s job spec before. Today, marketers have to be like Leonardo Da Vinci – creative and technical, equally left and right-brained and how many people like that do you know? Great marketers are very rare animals!

The truth is that organisations that wait for candidates with the breadth of skills marketers need these days, to apply for roles, will be waiting a long time. So long in fact that they’ll probably not survive. Being the complete marketing package is something that, as individuals, we either have within us or we don’t. No amount of training is going to produce Frankenstein’s marketer. There is, however, an alternative and that is what I call corporate aggregation.

If you can’t find a single person with the range of skills you need you must hire a number of people whose individual skills combine to create the whole. It looks expensive of course, but it’s not as costly as submitting to your competition and if you are working with the kind of truly integrated strategy that teams like this are capable of and that businesses worldwide are now turning to, you’ll find more than enough savings and efficiency to cover the investment.

Of course, I am simplifying a little here, because if you just put a random bunch of specialists together you’ll rarely generate any output. You need a process, a way of working and a set of tools to keep it all on track.

I’ve been aware of this growing need for a while now and in response some years ago I created Full Effect Marketing, which I’ve since shared with organisations around the world. You can create your own process, of course, but it’s complicated and plugging into a ready-made template suits most businesses best. It’s quicker and you are more likely to get it right first time.

The Full Effect Company is a group of people with diverse skills, but a common understanding of how businesses work these days. They’ve all signed up to my Full Effect Marketing philosophy and have adopted the tried and tested processes that we have created together that enable us to turn the strategies I create into reality. We come together in tailored implementation teams that can either supplement or replace entirely any organisation’s marketers.

Over the years we have learned to adapt to pretty well any situation. We’ve confined ourselves to creating the fully-integrated end-to-end business strategies that incorporate all that was previously part of an organisation’s separate business and marketing strategies. In other cases we’ve built, trained and managed their existing marketing team, mentoring at every level. In some instances we’ve even replaced in-house marketing departments altogether, at least for a while.

I’m convinced that this is the way forward for the vast majority of businesses. In fact, aggregation is the only alternative to waiting for Leonardo to turn up and other than doing it yourself, with all the delays and pitfalls associated with the unavoidable process of learning on the job, out-sourcing has to be the quickest and most efficient means of transforming a business and making it fit to compete in today’s marketplace.