I’m at the Marketing Sciences Institute Trustees Meeting and Conference on Real-Time Marketing, where I’m with a bunch of brand marketers, market researchers and academics – everyone extremely smart, and most with a lot more gray hair than me! It’s mainly a member event and it does a great job bridging together the issues of professional marketers with those from academia. And it has included some very thought provoking presentations and conversation. (I was invited to talk about customer listening and word of mouth…more on that later, once it’s happened.)
One of the best presentations of the day (and of the year, for me) was from Anil Menon, vice president, marketing and technology for IBM Systems and Technology Group. His topic was: “Are we truly marketing in real-time? Not really.” A few points (paraphrased) that stuck with me:
- Companies make mistakes not through one big mistake, but through several small ones that nobody took seriously along the way.
- Marketing as a function is getting weaker systematically.
- “Real-time” gives a perception of more important, which is why executives so often focus on what’s not so important; noise increases significantly in real-time marketing.
- IBM’s Global CEO Study, found that CEO’s top agendas were: 1) aggressive growth with cost containment; 2) Responsiveness to changing markets and risks; and 3) new skills and capabilities. These all underline a new overall agenda: new business models based on innovation.
- IBM Global CEO Study key learning: Enterprises that can sense and interpret small ripples in large data sources can respond with more speed and agility than enterprises that rely on traditional sources.
- Be careful with technology research/advisory firms, which can be echo chambers.
- You can have all the best research in the world, but the CEO’s anecdote can trump it in a heartbeat. Therefore, you MUST believe in your findings and subsequent strategy.
These are wise insights for those in business and marketing, especially in large corporations. While Anil says we don’t really market in real-time, it sure seems like real-time data and intelligence demands are proliferating, resulting in a growing pool of chaos to make sense of. A number of related discussions centered on the importance of mining the periphery and overcoming organizational barriers which blind us to those so-called "small ripples."