Tech Marketing in 2016: From Chaos to Clarity

November 17, 2016

Tech Marketing

This year was momentous for tech, as M&A activity rocked our industry’s largest organizations and paved next-generation pathways for innovation across the enterprise. Fueled by a need to transform and be more competitive, tech companies challenged the status quo like never before — making groundbreaking decisions, reinventions, and transformations that will surely impact modern life for years to come.

As marketers, we have much to glean from these record-breaking last quarters. Unlike years prior, marketing and advertising played a pivotal role in 2016 — with today’s marketing remit now driving organizational improvements, the adoption of new tools, and heavy investment in the customer journey. To position yourself, and your company, for success in 2017, here are three key insights we’ve garnered from the year’s busiest sector.

‘Transformation’ is the new ‘disruption’

With digital progress spawning new business, it’s clear to executives that change must occur within their organizations. Today, disruption is a fact of life. Gone are the days of scrappy startups threatening big players. As Linda Duncome, CMO of Citi FinTech, said earlier this month at LinkedIn’s FinXTech conference, “I don’t like the term ‘disruption.’ [None of] our customers are saying ‘I want my life disrupted.’” Instead, the key is to embrace and cultivate the innovation inside your company that improves the experience of your audience.

Today’s top tech firms are starting to adopt a “transformative,” versus “disruptive,” mindset. They recognize that the longevity of their business depends on collaborative mergers, synergistic acquisitions, and strategic splits. Tech will thrive by foraging paths that foster competitive differentiation and simplifying offerings that speak to savvy, omnichannel customers.

Take Dell’s historic acquisition of data-storage company EMC, for example, which will afford Dell Technologies greater scale and more freedom to trailblaze in key areas like cloud computing, cybersecurity, and predictive analytics. Or HP’s long-awaited separation into HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise — a move that has enabled HP and HPE to certainly move “further, faster” this year. Even Oracle’s recent purchase of NetSuite illustrates a trend towards accelerative recombination. By purposefully transforming themselves, all of these companies signal that competing for the future takes precedence over honoring the past.

Lay new foundations

When an enterprise transforms, new opportunities arise to reset foundations. Big changes should be felt across multiple dimensions — and, from a marketer’s perspective, these moments are ideal to challenge the status quo and re-position how your business collaborates, executes, and optimizes for success.

According to Forrester’s 2017 Predictions “the consequences of a customer-led, digital-centric market are becoming clear,” with Forrester’s report anticipating:

  • More than one-third of businesses will re-structure and shift their enterprise towards customer-obsessed operations.
  • 30% of CMOs will exit for not mustering the blended skillset needed to drive digital transformation, design personalized experiences, and propel growth.
  • CIOs will lead digital strategy and shape the future by placing technology front and center..

These dramatic shifts reflect the importance of building tactical plans to reach your customers with personalized, relevant content on platforms that matter most. A few top ways to get started include:

  • Build an Account Based Marketing (ABM) program to care for key accounts and targeted audiences along the purchase path. We recommend watching and reading about how Computer Science Corporation (CSC) Cracked the Code on ABM with LinkedIn. SiriusDecisions’ Account Based Marketing resource hub is another great place to learn and gain best practices about ABM. 
  • Embrace predictive analytics, which will allow your company to continually test and optimize via automated marketing responses for given scenarios. As B2B marketing expands from demand generation to deal acceleration, leveraging data to become more effective has never been more important. Earlier this year, Forbes declared that 89% of B2B marketers have predictive analytics on their roadmaps for 2016 — a number that’s surely increased since then. Here are some ways you can put insights into action. 
  • Personalize all touch-points (pre and post-sale) by using relevant messaging to break through the noise, streamlining purchasing processes, and making marketing and sales more responsive than ever. Content Marketing Institute’s recent trends report can provide inspiration to help personalize your marketing mix.

Implement the right technology

New future, new foundations, new technology — right? Not entirely. The takeaway here is that marketers need to focus on powering their organizations with the right technology. Over the last few years, there has been a prolific boom in the convergence of AdTech and Martech. This has left decision makers with, arguably, more confusing options than ever before and driven marketers to madness. Luckily, the dust is starting to clear. ChiefMarTec does a great job at covering big trends and important players across the industry. They and other sources can help provide guidance on the tools and platforms you need to succeed.   

But the future is uncertain, so take a risk every so often. Leverage your marketing technologists, data scientists, and IT analysts to work on cross-functional initiatives which can improve and align your company’s proprietary systems. They’ll likely have fresh perspectives on optimization and measurement too — and ideas to help buffer diverse programs.

Looking ahead, complexity is making way for clarity in tech marketing. We are in the thick of evolving and transforming our organizations across many dimensions — and we hope this year’s biggest tech stories inspire you to take action and pave a pioneering way forward for you and your customers.

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