Change. Some of us are frightened by the mention of “that” word.
Because it is seen as a source of pain, discomfort and confusion.
In 2018, disruption and change are not going away. In fact they are accelerating. Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are amplifying and extending humanity, business sales and growth.
I recently had the pleasure of attending the Salesforce World Tour conference in Sydney where over 12,000 people that aren’t afraid of change showed up.
Here are some of the key insights that I took away after hearing stories and experiences from trailblazing people and companies at the forefront of the revolution.
1. Artificial Intelligence is not the future (it is already here)
With data and the volume of information exploding, the need for AI that makes sense of the noise and provides insights from millions of points of information is now necessary.
The rise of both marketing and service bots had one surprising revelation. It was mentioned that sometimes people prefer to deal with bots because they seem to be more human and they don’t even know they are communicating with one.
AI is here and sometimes invisible. And that’s how it should be.
2. Right time, right place, right message
Complexity and the scale of a global marketplace means that automating is no longer an option. The only way to scale is to use a marketing platform that allows you to personalise all your content across multiple channels and touchpoints.
One statistic revealed during the event that surprised me was that most marketers say about half (51%) of their campaign messages are identical broadcasts from one channel to the next. This approach is akin to the early days of email marketing, when a “spray and pray” mindset was the norm.
AI is really helping us better understand customer behaviour so we can determine the optimal message and the best channel to deliver it. I loved hearing how Silver Chef, SurfStitch and Adidas are investing in AI to drive recommendations and predict outcomes, and are already seeing real results.
3. Customer experience is king
Controlling and managing the customer experience is what will set your brand apart from the rest.
AMP revealed at the event that they were replacing 40-50 different platforms to help with creating better one to one relationships. The Salesforce solution transformed the business and helped them to offer one seamless customer experience from beginning to end.
Why is this important?
Because 68% of marketing leaders say their company is increasingly competing on the basis of customer experience. It’s up to marketers to ensure they earn, win and keep their customers.
4. Use the right data
In a panel discussion on digital business transformation 3P Learning revealed that their biggest challenge was getting the entire organisation to understand that paradigm.
The global online education company said its business relies on customer data to drive investment and business decisions, establish sales and marketing priorities, and dictates the quality of relationships with their customers.
So make sure that you are collecting the right data in the most efficient way possible. Old, unmanaged and poor quality data can mean you are running your business on a very rusty and untrustworthy engine.
5. The future is personalisation
One of the most revealing insights from the retail marketing sessions came from global clothing brand Adidas who said its online store is where they drive the most sales. In 2017 it grew by a whopping 66%.
By creating personalised shopping experiences that delight and surprise at scale through a new mobile app, Adidas can customise content, product and interactions based on a customer’s personal preferences. They also leverage Einstein to continue personalised engagement through post-sales service.
The brand is an excellent example of a heritage company that has made the leap from brick-and-mortar retailer to ecommerce champion.
6. Confront the digital transformation dragons
Dragons are scary mythical creatures, like change and Artificial Intelligence. While we still try to keep up with the frenetic pace of technology, we need to confront these dragons of transformation.
In an insightful panel discussion led by the quirky and entertaining Peter Coffee, VP of Strategic Research at Salesforce, he listed the four very real dragons that confront the adoption and use of Artificial Intelligence in business and marketing.
These include: Complexity, Confusion, Isolation and Mistrust.
The insight for marketers here is that if you want to transform your capability and strategy with new technology, then they must clarify and take the rest of the company with them on that transformation journey.
7. Invest in talent for the future
One of the final and most inspiring takeaways from the event was hearing the story of Mark Tossell, a former baptist of 20 years who flipped his life upside down after reskilling in tech.
He first started on YouTube watching old Dreamforce sessions for about 50 hours in the first week and then stumbled across Salesforce’s free online training platform Trailhead. He’s now working as Chief Information Officer at Visioneer360.
It’s stories like these that should remind us of the importance in offering accessible reskilling opportunities for both new and experienced marketers in our industry if we want to best prepare our organisations the future.
If you want to check out more great insights from this year’s World Tour, it’s not too late – you can download the We Are All Trailblazers e-book to read more about the day’s highlights and driving customer success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
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