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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.
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.
Snow Fall is a beautiful, interactive and immersive multimedia experience about the avalanche at Tunnel Creek in the US.
It was lovingly crafted by The New York Times in 2012 and was heralded as setting new standards in digital storytelling.
Seventeen months later, the publication’s internal innovation report was leaked. It points out that while projects such as Snow Fall are extremely popular, with more than 21m page views, they are not easily replicable.
IBM recently announced a $100m investment in its Interactive Experience arm. Essentially this is IBM’s global digital agency.
At Econsultancy we are currently finalising our annual Top 100 UK Digital Agencies report. Without giving away too much you will see the likes of IBM, Deloitte Digital and Accenture Interactive ranking highly.
It's becoming harder and harder to persuade customers to give us their personal data. Are they more worried about privacy and security post-Snowden?
Are they wary that we marketers will relentlessly spam them once we have their details? Do they find it too difficult to do the data entry on the mobile devices they are increasingly using?
According to recent TRUSTe research 60% of people say they are more concerned about security now than they were a year ago.
It turns out that businesses sharing personal information with other companies (60%) and tracking online behaviour to show targeted ads and content (54%) were the two largest causes of increased online privacy concerns.
And yet there is also plenty of research to show that consumers appreciate personalisation and customisation. According to Adobe’s 'State of Online Advertising' last year, 88% of those surveyed in the EU were neutral or positive about customisation; this figure rose to 94% for the US.
So we face a tough challenge as marketers, as customers seemingly want the benefits of customisation but without giving up any personal data...
What is digital transformation? There is a lot of talk at the moment about this process, where an organisation overhauls its capabilities in order to reach digital enlightenment.
This is a large-scale change that typically takes years and cuts across strategies, people, processes and technology.
While there are internal elements to this, such as new social collaboration tools for employees and adopting more agile ways of working, much of the desired transformation relates to customer-facing activities, especially sales, customer service and marketing.
But what do we really mean when we talk about 'digital' anyway? What is a 'digital organisation'? Clearly we have gone beyond using just ‘online’ or ‘internet’ because those words do not adequately encompass mobile or other channels and media that are increasingly digital.
But I think ‘digital’ actually stands for more even than this...
The events that make up the Festival (Jump, Crunch, Punch, Funnel) cover different aspects of marketing. But perhaps the unifying theme is customer experience, across digital and physical.
The ‘experience economy’ was first proposed by Pine and Gillmore in 1998 in the Harvard Business Review. It describes how economies mature over time from ‘commodity’ through ‘goods’ to ‘services’ and, finally, ‘experiences’.
In this final stage businesses can charge for the value of the "transformation", of the “feeling”, that an experience offers.