2014 was clearly the year that marketing went omnichannel. We saw brands start thinking and talking omnichannel in a big way—new omnichannel titles, new desire to connect data dots that have never been connected before, new omnichannel KPIs. In the new year, we’ll see brands move from thinking about omnichannel and start measuring and reporting on omnichannel performance. Here are some emerging trends we see now that will solidify and go mainstream in 2015:
1. The Birth of a Discipline: Omnichannel Marketing Analytics
A trending meme since 2011, most every marketer will have omnichannel on the brain in 2015.
source: Google Trends
From omnichannel experiences to omnichannel engagement to omnichannel commerce, each of these new areas of focus will go full blossom, bringing omnichannel marketing analytics right along with them. The discipline will morph from a luxury in 2014 to a must-have priority in 2015 when we believe much more of marketing will be data-driven, but all marketing will be data-informed. Indeed, we’ve already seen a distinct omnichannel marketing analytics practice start to arise in many of the brands we interact with—a complex and nuanced discipline requiring its own set of tools and skilled professionals. Their aims are distinctly different but complementary to those focused on attribution and mix modeling. Their key objectives are to connect dots between omnichannel data sets and develop integrated reporting that provides optimization decision support—track performance against targets so spend can be moved around according to what’s been data-proven to work.
2. Welcome, Global Marketing Performance Intelligence Teams
As omnichannel marketing analytics grows into its own distinct discipline, we’ll see new roles and career paths emerge accordingly. We’ve seen scores of titles and whole departments pop up in 2014 that report directly to the CMO. The new breed of marketing performance insight leaders will be responsible for integrating and normalizing marketing data stores, applying a global marketing taxonomy, producing marketing dashboards, scorecards, benchmarking, tracking, and forecasting.
3. Bye-Bye, Generic BI Tools—Hello, Functionally-Specific Marketing Intelligence
Sales VPs have long since stopped asking their IT departments to build them an access database for CRM and lead tracking, and instead rely upon Salesforce as a turn-key solution. Marketers will move away from expecting their IT departments to build marketing reporting and dashboarding with generic BI tools—Tableau, MicroStrategy, Business Objects, Cognos, GoodData, Birst, Domo, Qlik, Spotfire—and instead start looking to build their marketing reporting and analytics systems with marketing-specific tools like Beckon. The marketing landscape is simply changing too fast to continue to rely on IT departments (and their months long delivery cycles) to solve our reporting challenges with generic tools. Agility will be the name of the game in 2015, and we’ll see big appetite for faster time to value with tools built for specific business functions.
4. The Marketing Tech Stack As An Ecosystem
As marketers move to embrace best-of-breed tools over one-size-fits-all systems in 2015, we’ll see tech stacks grow. Marketers will start to view their marketing toolset as a system of complementary, overlapping technologies that work together—a flexible, adaptive ecosystem that can easily work with new execution tools and apps as they arise (and arise they will!) Once again, with agility top-of-mind, marketers will position themselves so they can easily adopt what’s new—which means they’ll stop thinking of, say, Marketo or DART as their “marketing platform”. They’ll start thinking of these tools and technologies as integrated parts of a greater whole.
5. RIP Single Centralized Data Warehouses
As businesses move toward best-of-breed functionally-specific technologies in order to increase agility and performance, their interest in single centralized data repositories will also wane. Speed and time to value will trump theoretical notions of one-stop-shopping when it comes to data warehousing. There just isn’t a system that works well across all business functions so the ROI on single centralized data warehouses is no longer there. With the cost of computing power and storage lower than we’ve ever seen, it makes increasing sense for marketing to store our own data (and, by the way, also open up the opportunity to structure it in a way that makes marketing sense).
6. Functionally–Specific Taxonomies Are The New Black
As functionally-specific strategies, processes and technologies continue to burgeon, so will functionally-specific taxonomies. Businesses will find they don’t need to create a globally consistent enterprise-wide taxonomy that encompasses all functions. Using more functionally-specific tagging and data labeling, departments will get faster time to value—marketing included.
7. “The Integrated Marketing Platform”—Just Another Y2K
The hype was enticing, but reality has set in. The promise of the fully integrated marketing platform solutions big tech firms scrambled to deliver in 2014 has already dimmed and will continue to fade in 2015. Today, most marketers think Salesforce will never actually deliver, that Oracle is still Oracle, and that Adobe is too web-centric to be relevant to omnichannel marketers. Next year, marketers won’t be asking, “Which one-stop-shop shall I pick?” Instead, we’ll be working on building a taxonomy layer, an analytics layer and a reporting layer that connects all our marketing data systems and sources together to provide what we need for omnichannel optimization. As marketers already see much faster time to value with this approach, we’ll see decreasing interest in “marketing cloud” solutions in 2015.
8. Marketing Goes Below The Waterline With Data Management
We saw a lot of light bulbs go off over marketers heads in 2014 (“Ah-ha! I have a data management problem, not a data visualization problem!”)—strong signals that the market is maturing. In 2015, more marketers will stop focusing on the tip of the iceberg (how to visualize and report marketing results) and start working below the waterline on data management (normalizing, blending and otherwise transforming disparate data sets so they relate to each other).
9. Long Live Data Democratization!
As the call to “democratize marketing data” gets louder in 2015, appetite will continue to grow for self-service marketing reporting tools not necessarily aimed at the data scientist, but accessible to everyone in the marketing department from managers to the CMO. We see the trend to distribute marketing data throughout the enterprise turning sharply north in 2015, and along with it, a growing need for marketing reporting tools with consumer-level ease of use that don’t require extensive knowledge of analytics or data science to understand and operate.
10. Data wonks become storytellers
After years of cleaning up underlying data sources, amassing data in large data lakes, and storing every data point they can get their hands on, data teams will wake up in 2015 to an epiphany: “We have all this data, but we haven’t communicated to anyone why any of it matters.” Storytelling capabilities—using data—will be in high demand next year. Telling marketing stories through the customer lens and the business lens will become increasingly critical.