Customer first: why is it so hard to walk the talk?

It is amazing how little discipline companies have in their approach to their business technology, whilst at the same time acknowledging that their sales & marketing tools are critical but not delivering their promised, measurable value.

Translating the rhetoric of “customer-first” into meaningful action and overcoming legacy attitudes remains hugely challenging for traditionally-structured companies.

The sales & marketing technology world has rapidly become complex as the number of applications and categories covered by Scott Brinker’s increasingly dense Martech ‘supergraphic’ illustrates. This graphic, which has almost become a mandatory slide at marketing conference presentations, tracked 150 tools back in 2011. This year, 2017, it featured 5000. Few, if any marketers, can credibly claim to be fully across this landscape.

Traditional IT organizations are also challenged. IT people who have built their careers around coding and building stuff are being threatened by marketers who go around them and buy tools directly from tech vendors that business administrators and business super users can configure and drive with minimal IT involvement.

However, marketers who do buy their own tools without IT’s collaboration often find themselves stuck with point solutions that cannot be easily integrated and extended into their companies’ broader ecosystems, something which is essential if superior 360-degree experiences are to be delivered to customers.

Marketing and IT has to get into bed together and collaborate effectively. And we have to drop the phrase ‘digital marketing’. All marketing and sales activity today is digitally enabled. We don’t need a “digital strategy” today. We need strategies to succeed in the digital world that is all around us, where meaningful, sustainable and profitable differentiation can be achieved only by an obsessive focus on the digitally-enabled customer experience, with digitally-literate marketers and business technology (not old-school IT) specialists collaborating together around a shared vision and purpose.

3 years ago