Innovative Retail Technologies

JUL-AUG 2017

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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also impacted marketing's ability to truly measure the financial impact of channels of engagement and experience. Only 5 percent of marketers are able to see, in real time, the bottom-line impact of engagements as the customer journey advances. Similar to the manual processes of transporting data and intelligence among fragmented engagement systems, marketers are also manually calculating the financial impacts of select channels by creating more spreadsheets filled with dashboards and reports, but are not automating the process. To be sure, these disconnects are frustrating and confounding marketers, but they are also sparking real interest in new paths to learning as marketers are turning an eye toward advanced analytics and machine learning to possibly solve some of their data and intelligence issues. Marketers are especially interested in leveraging machine learning to advance their predictive models (66 percent), likely in the hopes of better understanding customer needs through their past behaviors and actions, and segmentation models (61 percent), to better identify greater opportunities within market segments and distinct customer profiles. Unfortunately, none of these advancements will truly move the needle without unifying customer engagement platforms and creating a strong data foundation to power these engagements. Without these foundational elements, the strategy-to-execution gap has little chance to narrow and eventually close, allowing organizations not just to deliver but also to profit from the exceptional experiences and engagements that the customer values. As organizations look to differentiate and accelerate bottom-line growth through customer experience strategy improvements, marketers must heed the call to shore up their data and engagement technology foundations. Without this solid footing, the gap that has formed while separating strategy and execution will continue to grow. Inefficiencies will continue to emerge. Silos will cement, and fracturing platforms will run the risk of being irreparably broken apart. Yes, this all sounds rather dramatic. But consider this: The customer is not waiting for gaps to close or foundations to solidify and harden. In fact, their expectations continue to grow and become more complex. Customers are increasingly demanding immediate value delivery and support. There are no more chances to prove that an organization can recognize and engage with a customer because the leaders are already setting the bar for real-time personalization regardless of channel. These leaders are not just creating a "What is hampering advancement most is that off-line intelligence is failing to power real-time in-line with the systems that are in turn powering personalization and action." Liz Miller, senior VP marketing, CMO Council stack or collecting data — they are also creating a center point for customer engagement execution — a customer engagement hub that unifies customer data and intelligence and can orchestrate personalized interactions across any channel, device, or touchpoint. This hub cannot exist only within marketing's walls but must have the ability to extend across the organization and even out to key partners. Marketers must act with clear intention to bridge the gap between customer experience strategies and execution across all channels, both online and offline. There must be a clear leader — starting with the CMO — who is willing and able to champion the customer, customer data, and the technology that powers engagement. There must also be a real commitment not just to replacing technologies as new innovations emerge, but also to focus on developing a best-of- breed stack that can shift with the needs of the business and the customer. In the end, those that can align their data, analytics, and the systems of engagement will realize deeper relationships with their customers. Without this alignment, marketing will fall deeper into the strategy-to-engagement gap, lost in a sea of disconnected technologies, manual processes, and a multitude of spreadsheets. 17 Jul-Aug 2017

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