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Author: Ashley Friedlein
I started out working in digital TV and multimedia production. I then worked at the Financial Times on arguably the first commercial application of Video on Demand (1996) before getting involved with FT.com as a Producer / Project Manager.
In 1997 I moved to digital communications agency Wheel as the third person in the then 'internet team'. I went through the dotcom boom, seeing Wheel grow from 30 people to 450 in just 3 years, and was involved in launching sites for M&S, Abbey National, IPC Magazines, Autoglass, Channel 5, AMP etc.
Following the dotcom crash (which saw Wheel shrink back to a more modest 90 or so staff) I left and spent a very pleasant sabbatical year writing my second book in the South of France. I then returned to the UK and from June 2002 I have been running Econsultancy full time.
There are two strategic imperatives that you cannot fail to have missed. Firstly, digital transformation. Secondly, customer-centricity.
From McKinsey to Accenture to IBM to CapGemini to Deloitte to PWC to Forrester to Gartner and, of course, our very own Econsultancy and Marketing Week, all of the research, analysis and consultants’ advice bangs the same drum.
All businesses agree they have to become more digital and more customer-centric.
Earlier this year Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat, gave a keynote address where he talked about three characteristics of the era we’re living in: internet everywhere, fast and easy media creation and ephemerality.
Snapchat is particularly known for the third of those, of course; the evaporating selfie, capturing a ‘moment of me, now’ has become an incredibly popular form of self-expression.
“On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” This adage began as a cartoon caption by Peter Steiner and was published by The New Yorker in July 1993.
It became extremely popular. Indeed it has earned Steiner over $50,000 from its reprinting.
But this points to a problem. We marketers extol the powers of personalisation, the merits of relevancy, targeting, customisation, segmentation. We love to really understand our customers, have deep insight and consequently deliver relevant messaging and engagement.
But what if our customers are not who they say they are? What if we really are real-time retargeting a Labrador?
Last Thursday around 50 brave marketing, digital and creative professionals set off on bike. Half to ride to Brighton in one day and the rest to push on to Paris over another two days. Around 250 miles in total.
At Econsultancy we do a number of events and research focused on B2B marketing. Indeed the upcoming Festival of Marketing has a whole stage dedicated to it.
A recurring theme is the relationship between sales and marketing.
In most B2B organisations, sales is still the dominant function. We often hear that sales and marketing should work more closely to together, focus on the whole customer journey, establish agreed processes, terminology and definitions (what exactly do we mean by a ‘sales qualified lead’?), hand off points and so on.
I'm intrigued by 3D printing. It feels like there might be something in it. It could revolutionise business models and customer experiences in a way that is almost as disruptive as ecommerce and digital have been.
You used to go to a shop to buy something; then you could phone to order it; then you could go online, or on your phone, to see it and buy it; but what if you could print it out at home? The potential implications are enormous.
But how advanced is the technology? What are the actual use cases for it? And what are the opportunities for marketing?
I have written a lot about the opportunities of adopting an agile marketing approach.
However, it is quite hard to find many examples of this being practiced yet, particularly at any kind of scale, and even more particularly by organisations that are not start-ups. IBM is one such example and it is great to see B2B marketing leading the way here.
Ben Edwards is VP, Global Communications & Digital Marketing at IBM. He leads the company's global communications function, global advertising & media, brand strategy & design, digital strategy and IBM Marketing Labs.
Following is a transcript of an interview I did with him to understand IBM's thinking around agile marketing and how this is playing out in practice.