In this vision, web publishers could publish, distribute, and update an entire website through the BitTorrent protocol, and others visiting the page would automatically help share the site’s content, just as anyone downloading a file over BitTorrent would also start sharing the file with other peers.
It’s pretty clear by now that smart CMO’s are seeking ways to accelerate growth by looking at digital products and platforms to energize their product mix and boost their marketing. As they ask their team to explore faster, both CMO’s and CTO’s need to be ready for the bumps ahead as the innovations go from “experiments” to “core business”.
Often, the leaders who are being asked to lead innovation are explicitly tasked with finding new ways to work in addition to defining new product/service offerings. They might be leading Innovation, New Products, New Ventures or Business Development. So, they are expected to explore new tools, new technology, new partners or new methods for working with a goal of injecting innovation into the organization while defining new revenue streams.
But, while there is a growing set of best practices on how to invent and launch new products inside the enterprise, there aren’t as many best practices for the transition period when those products go from “innovation” into “run the core business”. Worse, few innovation leaders have a clear plan for enlisting the support of the functional leaders (IT, Product management, sales, etc.) who have to maintain and manage an innovative product once it’s launched and proven.
As a result, one of the biggest threats to capturing the benefit from innovation activities is the slow death that comes when the original strategic intent is second guessed, re-thought, and challenged by the core business.
For example, imagine a scenario where the VP of Innovation for Enormicon Inc saw a legitimate market opportunity for a new product with a different business model. Over the course of a year, his “Enormicom Labs” team moved quickly, working like an agile startup to create the first iteration of the product including customer growth, market traction, press awareness and lots of insights into how the product could succeed. But, to scale the product, Enormicon would have to move the product from the “Labs” team into the core business.
As the product moves from the “Labs” team to the mainline business, the strategic intent of the innovation project will probably clash with the functional strategies that support the business. The tech choices that were made to enable speed and quality in the “innovation” phase will probably run counter to tech strategies that guide the main business (i.e. repeatability, cost reduction, leverage core technologies, scale efficiencies). The marketing approach used to quickly gain new customers for the innovative product will probably not be supportable by the “core” marketing team’s strategies.
To successfully grow businesses via innovation, Enormicon will need support in launching innovative products, but also in re-integrating those products into the business once the new product is proven.
Innovation leaders will need strong support as they think through the start up process AND the phase of introducing their new products and services into the main business. Change leaders will need to develop stronger support for:
- Tech Strategy – Choosing tech (the software, the programming language, the development methodology, the support model) that will work for both the start up phase (agile, fast, easy and cheap to build and support) and the re-entry phase (software that’s scaleable, supportable by the corporation, bullet-proof and fits into the rest of the company’s architecture)
- Maintaining Strategic Support – Building the strategic rationale and the business case for doing things differently, so functional leaders will invest the extra effort and time and money to support the experimental efforts (tech, marketing, etc.
CMO magazine predicts 2015 will be the year of “digital” transformation for most orgs. They asked a bunch of CMO/Marketing leaders to offer some predictions for the year.
These days digital transformation is top-of-mind for CMOs, and it reaches all corners of marketing. That includes devising new strategies to meet the expectations of omnichannel customers, capitalizing on what new technologies now enable (geotargeting, personalization, and automation, to name just a few), and changing the makeup of the modern-day marketing team to ensure the right skill set.
If you’re a CMO and you’re just getting to this, it might already be too late.
The real challenge to a “digital transformation” is that the CMO will only be a cheerleader (worst case) or one key leader in the executive suite (best case). The real transformation has to happen in organizations the CMO doesn’t always control.
Business Units – Short and long term incentives, promotional criteria and budget allocation all need to change. For example, digital transformation requires a ton of experimentation. Experimentation equals risk. Most good marketers have incentives that do not align with risk and change. Transformation requires, by definition, change.
IT – Systems, tools, incentives and budgeting will have to be changed. For instance, most capital budgeting requires some sort of ROI estimate. Most of the “digital transformation” investments will have, at best, a hazy ROI horizin. Yet, the investments need to be made to enable the transformation.
HR – The way organizations hire, develop, train and evaluate teams will have to change and the CMO rarely has direct influence over the group. For example, organizations will need to promote teams that have a high confidence in ambiguity, can lead through change, are resilient. Most importantly, business functions will need to reward true creativity.
I love the discussion of driving transformation. There’s a ton that’s needed. But, it’s not just the CMO’s job. It’s everybody’s job.
It’s great to see smart brands investing in “Labs” as outlined in this recent Adweek article about pushing the frontiers of retail. You could also look at Kraft, Nike, Mondelez and even good old General Mills (but, their Marketing Lab is now defunct based on what i’ve heard recently). It’s easy to see why a big company would want to create a “Lab”:
- Try out new technology (without committing to long term support and integration)
- Try new approaches, methods and processes (without committing to roll them out across the rest of the company)
- Try new partners (without having to form long term relationships)
- Try new business models (without committing to long term capital)
And a bunch of other benefits.
I’ve been thinking about what a modern marketing team really needs, going forward. The forward thinking CMO’s will recognize that the “Lab” is a critical piece of a larger transformation effort. But, it’s not the only one. The CMO office will need to drive change through three pieces working together:
- The Lab – The place to, literally, experiment. Try new things, new tools, new skills, etc. This is where real innovation is found and validated.
- The Factory - This is where the content/marketing gets made at scale, efficiently with a core focus on delivering immediate impact, now. In general, this will be delivered by the current roster of agencies and other partners who are on the hook for content and brand building materials. CMO’s will need a way to inject the innovations created in the “Lab” into the Factory. Smart agencies will be actively looking for ways to translate what works in the lab into their everyday work.
- The Studio – The Studio is about craft, art and excellence. Generally, this is the content that is small, well crafted, and focused on making more of a statement. If brand content has the possibility of being art, the studio will craft it. Where the Lab is all about the “new” and “better” and the Factory is all about the “Scale” and “Efficiency” and results, the “Studio” is about delivering the highest quality possible.
The job of the Chief Digital Officer (or the CMO herself) would be to integrate the three really effectively to deliver the results any good marketer needs:
- In Market results, now – The traditional results that marketers and business builders really need: Reach, frequency, depth, conversions, loyalty, advocacy.
- Better consumer knowledge – Data about the consumer and their interaction with the brand and the insights that come from the combination of data analysis and good old fashioned intuition
- Better operations – New ways of working, new techniques & tools to do the job better
- A clearer sense of what’s coming next - Stronger intuition about how the marketer can better serve the consumer AND build a longer term advantage for her brand or her company
This is pretty much thinking out loud. I hope to come back and work on these ideas.
I need to come back and write up a clear article on this, but i’ve been digging deep into Bitcoin. Not the cryptocurrency part, but the actual protocol behind it. The think i’m curious about: What else could we apply the blockchain concept to. That is, what kind of decentralization can happen when there is a secure, transparent, open, scriptable, public ledger holding the system together.
Lots more to think about, but here’s a couple important articles for my own future reference:
- The original Bitcoin paper
- Marc Andreeson: Why Bitcoin matters (via NYT) and “In 20 Years We’ll Be Talking About Bitcoin like The Internet”
- Backstory on Bitcoin (via Wired)
- High level explanation of how the blockchain works (via Stackexchange)
- How the Blockchain works (video from Khan Academy)
- The Scripting language on top of the Blockchain is “expressive”
- Namecoin: The Blockchain concept applied to internet names
- A bit more on the opportunities possible via the decentralized protocol
- Albert Wenger from USV making it clear: Bitcoin as a Protocol
I think this is pretty good advice for any writer. It’s easy to be emotional and strident, but the best work channels that energy through a distinct, mostly consistent view of the world. And then, funny is usually better.
“When we’re successful, it’s a funny take on a serious subject,” explained Jaffee. “When we fail is when we preach.”
If you want a good example of what “Big Data” really means, it’s this. “Big Data” isn’t just “shit ton of data”, it’s “amazing and proprietary insights that could only come from very creative analysis of a shit ton of data that only we can get our hands on”. So, stop referring to your little facebook data project as “big data”.
And, for what it’s worth, the Atlantic just showed you what’s possible when you cross a curious journalist with a hacker’s mindset. So very cool.
Using large teams of people specially trained to watch movies, Netflix deconstructed Hollywood. They paid people to watch films and tag them with all kinds of metadata. This process is so sophisticated and precise that taggers receive a 36-page training document that teaches them how to rate movies on their sexually suggestive content, goriness, romance levels, and even narrative elements like plot conclusiveness.
They capture dozens of different movie attributes. They even rate the moral status of characters. When these tags are combined with millions of users viewing habits, they become Netflix\’s competitive advantage. The company\’s main goal as a business is to gain and retain subscribers. And the genres that it displays to people are a key part of that strategy. \”Members connect with these [genre] rows so well that we measure an increase in member retention by placing the most tailored rows higher on the page instead of lower,\” the company revealed in a 2012 blog post. The better Netflix shows that it knows you, the likelier you are to stick around.