Following the NFL championship games via Twitter on Sunday was a lot like trying to match the cherries on a slot machine that never stops spinning. It hurt the eyes, those rapid-fire tweets. 

Now imagine that experience replicated on a global scale when the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Summit begins tomorrow, and international leaders in business, politics, and education, as well as top journalists, touch down in Davos, Switzerland. Imagine the social media frenzy.

Luckily, there’s a service to quell the madness: World Economic Forum Live (WEFLive). Created by KPMG, one of the largest professional services firms in the world, WEFLive is a site that aggregates and streams a live feed of tweets authored by WEF attendees. Its debut last year was a hit, garnering praise from no less than Forbes and The Guardian.

We got the chance recently to speak with David Green, head of global digital marketing at KPMG, about the service, updates to WEFLive this year, and his take on the general state of digital marketing today.

KPMG did great work in 2012 with WEFLive. Can you share insights from last year?

It was a genuinely innovative service not just for KPMG, but generally. It was an exciting project, and the success of it did help drive greater willingness to adopt and engage with digital within parts of KPMG.

Because the World Economic Forum Annual Summit is such a high profile event, it’s certainly on the radar of executive leadership, so WEFLive really helped raise internal awareness of our strategy of developing digital organizational maturity.

What have you got planned for this year?

There are lots of enhancements and new features to the site for this year’s summet. It’s got a Pinterest-style layout that incorporates content from tweets, whether that’s videos or articles. Quite importantly, there’s a real-time interactive infographic so you can compare the conversations happening at Davos with broader Twitter conversations around the world that use #WEF or #Davos in their tweets.

More generally, what do you think we can expect in digital and integrated marketing in 2013?

Digital marketing will become just marketing in 2013. This is something that’s been underway quite some time. In the past, digital was the domain of certain specialists. It was an add-on, and marketing was very much preoccupied with digital channel health rather than really, truly integrating digital for the brand experience.

Digital is becoming much more integral to business processes rather than remaining a separate channel consideration.

Yet marketers still stumble in their integrated marketing efforts. How can they improve?

It’s really an issue of the definition of “integrated.” Are you really just considering integration in terms of tactics across a range of channels?

There’s a whole other level of integration in terms of offline channels—the holistic customer and brand experience. Certainly, there’s integration in terms of other business processes; for example, customer service.

It really depends on your definition of “integration.”

What about data and measurement? How do those fit into KPMG’s digital marketing efforts?

We’re certainly on a path of maturity in analytics. Really, it’s about distilling the various data points and viewing them through the lens of business objectives.

It’s all too easy to produce dashboards and reports. It’s a reflection of digital organizational maturity when you start to change the language of analytics away from discrete, measurable data points and really frame it in terms of business objectives, user tasks, to the actual KPIs. 

High value digital analysis requires a solid infrastructure and a program-based approach. Ultimately, you want to be executing microsegmentation and personalization of customer communications.

What was the most important takeaway for you last year in terms of digital marketing?

Organizational culture change is perhaps the most important aspect of change if you really want to be successful with regards to digital. It’s often said that many a strategy fails against the rocks of an organization’s culture, like when a new executive wants to try a new strategy. If you haven’t taken the appropriate feel for the culture, the strategy’s not going to succeed.

You’ve emphasized repeatedly the importance of organizational culture. What makes for a healthy one?

The key word is organization. In any organization, you’ll always have a broad spectrum of willingness and ability to engage. You have to work with early adopters because they’ve generated success stories that you can feed back into the organization to help push change. So, communication, listening, and engagement are really key if you want to try and drive change in an organization’s culture.

Also, it doesn’t happen overnight. We use a radar chart to measure digital organizational maturity, and there are a lot of different dimensions: technology, strategic alignment, channel, content, process and organization, and people and culture. I’ve always said the last would be the slowest moving, but the most important.

If you succeed in driving culture change in the organization, it becomes the new modus operandi rather than something that’s adjunct, which all too often the digital marketing function can be.

KPMG is one of the world’s biggest network of professional services firms. What particular challenges do marketers face in your sector?

One of the key challenges is the growing complexity of the B2B buying cycle. Both the customer’s and vendor’s worlds are more complex. From the vendor side, portfolios are more complex. You’ve got a large matrix organization, and typically there’s a quarterly focus on sales.

From a customer perspective, there are more stakeholders involved in the buying and decision-making process. For example, procurement typically has a greater role. So, because the cycle has beome more protracted, there is pressure on the costs of sales, too.

So, from a marketing/communications perspective, it raises a challenge in terms of reaching those people, who may be feeling information overload, at the right stages.

From the vendor side, risk-sensitive customers can be dealing with large matrix organizations with complex service portfolios. Organizations have to work hard to provide real value to their customers.  

And then there’s threat from new services. Just as the Internet has been of fantastic benefit to society, from a business perspective, it’s having a very profound, disruptive impact on many industry sectors and business models. Professional services no different.

So what’s the right strategy for a business like KPMG?

KPMG’s strategy is really about becoming fit for digital. Overall, you’re developing both organizational capability—marketing, technology, toolsets—and organizational competence. Do people have the right skills and knowledge to use and apply those tools? How does that integrate with business processes? What about the organizational culture?

It’s not going to be a smooth improvement in all axes in our digital organizational maturity radar chart over time. It’s going to be a lumpy experience. It’s really difficult to successfully embed technology and have it adopted by users in an organization so that they understand and are willing to use the technology tools, but that’s also what’s so fantastically exciting about working in this field.