Day One of ADMA Global Forum was action packed, with 19 speakers from three continents providing key insights, groundbreaking ideas and practical tips across topics including data-driven marketing, brand building, innovation and creativity, technology and everything else in between.
To set the scene, Jodie Sangster, ADMA CEO pointed out the changing role of marketers.
“Marketers need to think of themselves now as customer engagement experts.”
She also highlighted that as such, marketers need to not only widen their breadth of skills, but also remove themselves from silos and work closely with all departments.
Putting her words into action on a larger scale, Sangster announced two key things in her opening address:
1. A free skills-assessment tool developed by ADMA IQ for all ADMA members to assist in identifying and training the right people for the right skills; and
2. The launch of a new business network bringing together four associations, called the Australian Alliance for Data Leadership (AADL).
The Alliance includes the Association of Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA), Data Governance Australia (DGA), Institute of Analytics Professionals Australia (IAPA), and Digital + Technology Collective (D+TC) – all driven by the same thread: data and the customer.
All this, before 9.30am!
The rest of the day at ADMA Global Forum left delegates buzzing from insights and ideas.
Here are four insights we walked away with from Day One:
1. Look at stability, rather than change, to build your strategy
In the era of constant change, it’s easy to get caught up with thinking about how the future will be different and how this may affect business.
But rather than asking “what will change in 10 years?” we should be asking “what will stay the same in 10 years,” says Vittoria Shortt, Group Executive, Group Marketing and Strategy, Commonwealth Bank.
“In 10 years’ time, customers will still want the same things: they’ll want low prices and speed,” she said.
Jane Huxley, Managing Director at Spotify, agrees.
“The customer is the same as before and they will have the same needs over time: choice, cost and convenience.”
Key takeaway: Don’t get too caught up in how the future will differ from now, but stay focused on and build strategies around the things that will remain important to your customers.
2. Culture key to successful CX
In the past couple of years we’ve seen businesses increase investment in technology and data with the firm belief that they will improve business value.
While businesses cannot survive without the right tech and data insights, the missing piece from this equation has been a lack of focus on staff and culture.
As Adam Stewart, Digital Expert, pointed out in his keynote session, key ingredients in business transformation in the digital age include re-assessing existing organisation structures and developing a new organisational culture.
Murli Buluswar agrees, “Organisations need to move to a learning culture. We need to start changing mindsets from knowers to learners.”
Murli suggested that organisations focusing on CX need to focus “more on winning hearts and minds than on data and insights.”
John Batistich, Non-Executive Director, Consultant and Governor at The Heart Research Institute also believes organisation culture is key to exceptional customer experience.
“The culture needs to be curious about customers, learn from them, and it needs to bring them into the organisation to help design and build better services and products,” he said.
Naomi Simson, Founder of the Big Red Group is a firm believer in the importance of structure influencing customer experience. Simson has no marketing or sales teams, but instead, has a Head of Growth, customer success team and a multitude of business partners.
“Studies have shown that a highly engaged team will have highly engaged customers, with 50% more profit,” she said.
“Make sure your team is aligned to your values as your people are your greatest advocates, but also your greatest underminers.”
Key takeaway: Focus on building a culture that has customers at the heart. Ensure cross communication across your teams and make sure your people live and breathe your brand values.
3. AI - moving beyond bots and automation
According to Adam Stewart, if you’re planning your website around mobile, you’re behind the times.
With artificial intelligence growing at an unprecedented rate, you should be thinking about how you could provide a better customer experience through AI.
According to research, there will be 20.4 billion connected devices by 2020 and 61 per cent of U.S. homes will be smart, Stewart pointed out.
In order to keep up with technology, businesses must look at changing existing models and look at new growth opportunities.
Naomi Simson highlighted the amazing potential of AI, going far beyond chat bots. Bringing IBM’s Albert to Australia, The Big Red Group has managed to drastically reduce ad spend by tracking customer journeys, looking at first party data and producing large scale creative on the fly (on its first day Albert produced 6,400 pieces of creative).
Although AI is moving way beyond chatbots, $7m will be spent on refining them in the next 12 months according to Catorina Wallace, Founder of Flamingo.
And while big businesses are looking at improving business efficiency, decision-making processes and cost reduction through AI, they’re leaving out the important question of improving CX.
“This is where we [start-ups like Flamingo] are at the other end of the line – we’re looking at how can AI benefit the customer and working on empowering customers through AI, ” Wallace said.
Key takeaway: AI is growing and cannot be ignored. The companies that will come out winning will be those who embrance AI and think about ways of empowering and delighting consumers through the use of machine intelligence”
4. Humanisation in the age of machines
With AI taking centre stage, marketers must also keep the human element in mind. Whether it’s through customer service or at an organisational level, people need to be at the heart of business.
With the growing capabilities of machines, there is also growing uncertainty around the future – especially around job certainty and machines replacing people in the workforce.
But don't panic, says Dr Catorina Wallace, Founder of Flamingo. According to Wallace, executives are looking to AI not to replace people, but to free them up in order to enable more human interactions.
“AI can help humans be more human, to be of higher value,” she said.
On a business level, PayPal Marketing Director, Elaine Herlihy urges marketers and executives to look at the ‘why’ behind industry and consumer issues as technology is only equipped to solve the ‘how’.
Allen Olivo, Silicone Valley Brand and Communications executive, says one of the key ways of achieving sustainability is through customer-centricity.
“Businesses can achieve sustainability through focusing on human problems and solving for human outcomes,” he says.
Jane Huxley suggests humanising brands is about talking and listening: telling stories of the brand to evoke memories and embrace a brand; and listening, without interjecting to be able to capture and use consumer insights.
Key takeaways: Don’t fear the machines, AI won’t replace humans. However, ensure you don’t get lost in the hype of machines and forget the human element. In order to ensure business longevity, put human outcomes at the centre of everything you do. Then listen and tell stories that resonate with consumers.