A great ad isn’t the same as a delivering a great customer experience. A stroke of creative genius might capture people’s attention for a moment, but it’s what you do with their attention that matters. Today’s customer journey is made up of every interaction your audience has with your brand before, during, and after their purchase, and it needs to keep them engaged all the way through. That’s why the words “Coca Cola” evoke more than just a frosted bottle of Coke, or why “Apple” means more to us than slick product designs. Both these brands place as much value on the experiences they deliver, outside their products, as they do on marketing and advertising. More importantly, their employees understand the role they play in shaping the customer experience. Everyone has a stake in the customer journey today. Where departments such as IT and HR once worked in the shadows, supplying customer-facing teams with the resources and skills to engage with the outside world, they now play a crucial role in shaping the customer experience themselves.
Consider the IT department – the shift to data-driven business has seen IT and marketing work more closely than ever to get closer to their audience. For their part, HR teams have taken the lead in driving a more customer-centric culture and a more conscientious approach to data, both of which are then reflected in the way their business develops new services and experiences. Our latest Digital Trends Report drives this point home. The respondent base for our research used to be almost entirely made up of marketers and advertisers, but this year marketing professionals only accounted for 23% of respondents. Joining them were creatives (28%), IT practitioners (10%), and content specialists (7%), among others.
Part of this shift comes down to our growing dependence on data. It’s no longer just IT teams who recognize data’s value. Every department, from marketing to IT, is looking to extract insight from the information they collect and use it to deliver more personalized customer experiences. The big push for brands is to unify all their data so that every team can understand and add value to the customer journey. We found that more than half of marketers plan to make better use of data in 2019, and that nearly two-thirds of IT professionals plan to unify data from across the organization onto a single platform.
These are both positive shifts, and it’s reassuring to see marketers and IT on the same page. However, collaboration will be the key to bringing their joint ambition to life. It is through a culture of sharing knowledge, transferring skills, and aligning priorities that the business as a whole will move towards a more personalized and transparent approach to managing data. Hiring and empowering the right talent is also crucial for companies that want to use data in a way that’s fit for today’s market. After all, your employees are the ones who will collect, interpret, and act on this information. It’s our job as business leaders to help ensure both existing and new talent entering the workforce have an appreciation for how data can enrich people’s lives, while also understanding the implications of using information irresponsibly.
This requires more than just technical knowledge and STEM skills, though both remain indispensable. It takes an ability to interpret data creatively and understand its implications beyond algorithms and sales figures. Indeed, this creative layer is key to bridging the divide between customer-facing teams and IT. Only then, will we be able to build a workforce that’s equipped to marry the art of creativity with the science of personalisation, while continuing to put consumers’ interests first.
Data has truly become everyone’s domain, and everyone’s responsible. Nowhere is this more evident than Europe, where GDPR has given businesses even more reason to take control over their data. Encouragingly, our research shows that brands have made this a priority for 2019 and are empowering every team in their organisation to play its part.
To find out what 2019 holds in store for brands and what their approach to data is, read our 2019 Digital Trends Report, completed in partnership with Econsultancy here.