Updated: Sep 22
Everything happened so quickly. Digitalization traveled like light, It was faster than anything. Most of the people, organizations, businesses, and processes were slow to respond and digest this new technology. Evolution is everywhere. Those who can’t adjust themselves to what’s already here, have a risk of becoming extinct, literally. In this article, I am going to talk about marketing departments who have been so slow to respond to this new digital age. I am going to talk about companies who have separate digital marketing organizations. I am going to talk about marketing organizations who are doing digital things only through agencies.
Let’s go back to the college years. In business schools, there are usually 2 main types of people. Marketing or finance people. Of course, there are weird ones like me who enjoyed math and technology but for some reason ended up in business school. Some of my friends went to finance and rest of them went to marketing. I think I was one of the few people who ended up technology after business school around year 1999.
In classical marketing organization, we have different roles such as: product, sales, distribution, research, and advertising. As a product manager, your goal is to engage with your target market, make sure you understand them and create products that would be sold often enough to make you profitable. You also need to find and create new markets and you use research, advertising and distribution methods to reach new and existing customers. This basic circle is highly social and creative where you really don’t need any technical people. Offline marketing is all about TV commercials, newspaper ads or some billboards on a popular street.
Then whole world changed so rapidly with Internet and smart phones. We started online campaigns and we started to offer our products online. Who needs to go the bank branch when you can transfer money online.
At this point marketing organizations needed to change its workforce but adaptation have been slow. They needed to add more people who understood and enjoyed technical aspects of things. But it did not happen fast enough. Since they always depended on different agencies to most of their work, this new “Internet medium things” also went to agencies. Adwords, web analytics and tag integration were all given to agency control. I am not saying that classical marketing tasks died, but even for companies who are not core digital, most of the marketing functions like advertising, branding, distribution and communication started to happen more in a digital world.
Meanwhile pure digital companies like Google, Amazon or Netflix who created some of these technologies were naturally hiring people who were both creative and analytical with technical skills. They started doing very interesting marketing things like A/B testing, personalization, recommendation with help of advanced analytics. Marketing or product analysts in these companies are usually nerdy engineers who had nothing to do with marketing in the schools.
At this time there were lots of smart companies who were trying to copy these new technologies to make them available for other companies who have don’t have Google’s money and know-how.They started to find clients who have been very excited doing all this new cool stuff. Yes era of marketing tools have started.
That’s where problems have started too. Marketing bosses started to buy new marketing tools or asked IT to develop new tools in-house without investing in business people who can actually use or implement these tools. They thought software would be installed by IT and everybody would live happily ever after. Of course things did not go like that .IT departments needed business drive or help to integrate the software but business people did not have enough know-how to give that direction. Lots of people have been resisting to these new tools since this was not what they signed up for. Lots of companies ended up with technologies that were implemented wrong and after some time they were all ditched forever since nobody used them.
In San Francisco area more and more marketing analytics and product managers are coming from engineering background not from business schools. If you are working in marketing world, you really need to be comfortable with analytics and technology, otherwise future is not very bright for you. When I interview people for my clients, I am amazed to hear some comments like “I don’t want to be too technical, I like to stay creative” So you think people who created Google and Facebook were not creative? Huh? Really? Come again..
If you are a marketing/business boss, please hire people who like to learn and employ technology in their everyday life. Marketing and IT now have to work next to each other like twins. IT used to be owner of the technology but it should not be the case anymore. Now business has to lead technology for businesses and choose new technologies that is going to support their business strategies.
But how can you lead something with people who has no skills to do that.
Start reinventing your marketing departments. Future is already here.