Reflections on marketing technology for a New Year

I believe that marketing — as a function, a profession, and an industry — is experiencing transformational changes and disruptive innovation, driven by the evolving capabilities and culture of the Internet and a new generation of marketing technology software.

It is becoming more distributed in execution, more personalized in communications, and more fluid across boundaries inside and outside the firm.

Its cycle speed is accelerating, its tactical building blocks are fragmenting — from a few big campaigns to a kaleidoscope of microcampaigns — and the scope of its data universe is growing exponentially.

This presents tremendous challenges in configuration, coordination, and computation — yet also offers opportunities for bold, new models, strategies, and systems.

I am fascinated by these phenomena, how they are migrating across firms and industries, from a combined perspective of management and technology. Digital marketing is a nexus of two worlds — marketing and software — where brands and customer experiences are increasingly impacted by algorithms and the limits of computational complexity.

I am convinced that the next wave of major insights and innovations in this field will continue to arise from the synthesis of marketing and computer science.

Examples of the types of questions I think are worth exploring more deeply:

How will the increasing adoption of semantic web technologies — or more broadly, more structured data and interoperable application APIs — change the strategic landscape of marketing in the (semantic) web?

How will the structure of creative services and marketing management evolve as a small number of high-production campaigns are displaced by a plethora of on-demand, context-specific microcampaigns and an amorphous social media sphere, constantly on the cutting-edge of new Web 2.0/3.0/N.0 paradigms?

Can software engineering paradigms such as object-oriented programming, service-oriented architectures, and agile development methodologies be adapted to marketing programs?

What are the effects of marketing automation when the micro-interactions of customers have ever more non-deterministic properties? How can these processes be optimized without being over-optimized? What’s the right balance of auto-pilot and manual control in exponentially complex marketing programs?

How can companies balance the authenticity of social media conversations while efficiently scaling systems of engagement across an ever-expanding portfolio of public forums?

At the highest level, I want to uncover the patterns that are emerging in the intersection of marketing and technology — and to draw lessons from them more broadly for innovation, management, and life.

That’s my resolution for this blog. I hope you’ll join me in these discussions. It’s going to be an exciting year in marketing technology!


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