The Future of Customer Experience: Architects of the new marketing

By Sponsored by Accenture Interactive. | Sponsored
Irwin Lim

This article originally appeared in AdNews in Print in June 2017. You can download a digital version of AdNews here or subscribe to the premium print edition here.

Accenture’s remit has evolved in line with the challenges and changes it’s seeing for marketers. Marketing isn’t just campaigns but an end-to-end experience. It requires different skills and a different mindset to survive in this new marketing world.

Irwin Lim, Accenture Interactive Marketing Services Lead for Australia and New Zealand, brings to bear 20 years experience in digital and marketing transformation. His remit has expanded to incorporate all aspects of digital marketing, personalisation and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, which are becoming a bigger part of the new marketing world brands are facing.

New technologies offer a world of possibilities, but it can be confronting so it’s important to take a step back, says Lim.

“There’s a whole bunch of limitations with technology when it comes to the marketing perspective. Take Artificial Intelligence (AI). I think a lot of people’s notion about what AI is, is what the industry calls ‘strong AI’, so things like C3PO from Star Wars, that kind of AI. Versus what the reality is. A very good recent example is Facebook chat bots,” he explains.

“A lot of what people are already interacting with is what’s termed ‘weak AI’. It’s AI focussed on a specific use case, like recognising an image or knowing what product you will likely buy, for example – this kind of cool stuff is happening right now. The most exciting thing for me is the modularisation and commoditisation of these things because once it has gotten to that level of ease of use and adoption that’s when it can really drive value for business.”

Lim is clear that tech and data are not enough. It has to be complemented with content and rich creative to bring it to life for a brand.

“The ‘always on’ customer is looking to interact with your brand any time, anywhere. So, how marketing has evolved into what we call ‘new marketing’, is that it’s all about relevance, the right time and the right price point. For me it is all about putting together the right experience. If I were to sum it up, big brands and big products are all about the experience.

“Experience is very different from products and services, and traditional brand communication. So ‘new marketing’ is really around this thing that I call ‘Experience Marketing’ with a capital E and M. Focussing on tech is not enough, great content is not enough, or just having the data is not enough. Today it is all about how you blend these things together. How good you are at blending these things together will dictate how well you play in this new space.

“It starts from designing interactions around the whole experience, not just a campaign around a brand strategy for the year. What does that mean for the customer journey? It goes beyond communications, to what people call the moments of truth.”

It’s not an easy thing to achieve and often means a huge shift in the mindset of an organisation. To Lim, it needs input from technology operations and a ‘customer development’ mindset, open to continuously optimising the experience, tweaking it and adapting.

“If you put all of those together it starts to sound quite different from a brand’s traditional ‘strategy, campaign, measure’ mentality.”

From there it comes down to breaking down the silos within an organisation or within marketing departments. There are teams for media, marketing, planning, creative and more, with each often working on different KPIs and measuring success differently.

“I’ve found this is another roadblock to getting the whole experience and journey thinking right. You need to pull them together to do Experience Marketing,” he says.

Once you get teams committed to shared metrics and how they measure those outcomes it starts to make more sense. One way Accenture has found to demonstrate that Experience Marketing and joined up thinking works – particularly to larger organisations that have more complex structures – is to start with a niche project where the approach can be put to work on a smaller scale and used as a proof point.

Lim talks about ‘experience architects’ as the pin holding this all together. Accenture Interactive has built a team of these people with the right skills, who are able to “see the big picture but are also comfortable operating at the micro level”.

It’s not so much about having a 100-person team of experience architects, but having the capability and people who are fluent in data, technology, creativity and marketing.

“These individuals become really important in putting things together,” Lim says. “You need to bring all these different ways of thinking and different cultures together. To get that mentality you have to have individuals in the business who have these skillsets, who are fluent and comfortable and know how to put things together.”

Also in this series, The Future of Customer Experience: The new marketers, an interview with Michael Buckley, Accenture Interactive managing director. Find out more about Accenture Interactive here.

This article originally appeared in AdNews in Print in June 2017. You can download a digital version of AdNews here or subscribe to the premium print edition here.

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