digitalizationMarketing has many years of experience in the use of digital media and, in part, marketing automation. Some marketers are even using Big Data and Predictive Marketing successfully by now. Consistent digitization includes processes as well as business models and data-driven (as opposed to data-informed) approaches. For short, technology is gaining in importance.

The ability to collect, analyze and operationalize data in a targeted manner becomes a prerequisite for success for companies and the people who work in them. However, technology alone is not the answer. There are more and more tools out there that support and facilitate the transformation only when they are used and filled with life by the employees. So, what does digitization and the trend towards data-driven models really mean for employees in marketing?

The following key factors and core competences can serve as a frame of reference to evaluate the individual situation in companies and to implement necessary measures:

1. Increase agility

For digital, data-driven companies, the ability to quickly test, evaluate, measure and then implement or discard ideas and products is particularly important. In the implementation, the current state should be described as precisely as possible to be able to eliminate temporal obstacles. In any case, it is important to provide the necessary technology to carry out, for example, A/B testing and to specifically train employees in methods and expertise, such as agile management or even SCRUM technologies.

2. Think analytically

When we talk about digitization, we talk about data. An analytical way of working means first and foremost to measure and see data as an advantage and added value. Not everyone has to become a data scientist, but at least the basic concepts should be understood to be able to evaluate data-based issues and provide proper decision making. Obviously, this includes asking questions in such a way that they can be answered with data.

Analytical thinking is about understanding things from the ground up and to be able to make better decisions and improve outcomes on an objective basis. In fact, employees and supervisors should evaluate their own experiences through data for better decision-making. Not to mention that without data, statements are only opinions.

For this reason, they need basic analytical knowledge and an understanding of digital maturity models. In addition, methodical competence for the definition of goals, development of data sources, as well as visualization and subsequent operationalization.

3. Promote integration

Cooperation and integration are not the same. Cooperation often takes place because of process-driven service provision between departments. Marketing generates leads and sales is doing the follow-up and creates the offer, whereby digitization is a cross-cutting issue that affects the entire company.

Integration means dismantling silos - including data silos - and working in such a way that the customer is really at the center of the attention. Because customers are not interested in departments, they just want to acquire valuable products and services in the simplest possible way.

Breaking up silos, with the goal of using resources collectively in the interests of customers, including data, is a prerequisite for success in the digital world. Management should create an open, peer-to-peer atmosphere in which cross-departmental discussions can be held with all relevant people to better meet customer needs. Managers will have to work more on the system in the future and create the necessary conditions for their employees..

4. Master storytelling

Whoever wants to move people needs stories! Since human beings decide emotionally, apart from a few exceptions, they justify their decisions rationally. People love stories and respond to them - privately as well as on duty. The goal of data storytelling is to intelligibly communicate important developments to make the right decisions. Data stories differ from fairy tales and good movies theoretically in two ways: There is not always a happy ending and data stories are usually not completed but serve the subsequent discussion.

5. Stay curious

Curiosity is a basis for innovation and stands for the active search for new approaches, the look beyond the horizon, and the urge to try things out. Curious people ask questions and do not give in until they get the right answer. The fact is that the ongoing search for innovation plays a key role in the continued creation of competitive advantages. Therefore, we highly recommend to hire curious people and to encourage curiosity through appropriate measures.

6. Act entrepreneurially

On one hand, entrepreneurial action is about the ability to recognize new business potential and, on the other hand, to clearly present the economic value proposition of this potential. This is supported by an understanding of the roles of executives and employees. The employee must feel that they are able to contribute and implement their own data-driven ideas. In fact, as intrapreneurs, they should be allowed to make a difference. Managers should create the appropriate framework conditions by encouraging and rewarding them. Only when the potential economic additional benefit can be presented, the employees will get the support they need. Trends, tools and channels are changing, but companies' economic laws do not. The clearer marketing can represent the economic added value in terms of potential sales increases, cost reductions or ROI optimization, the greater the implementation probabilities.

7. Live customer orientation

In times when around 70% of the B2B purchasing decision process is anonymously done online before a salesperson is even contacted, or 100% when we talk about e-commerce, companies have largely lost personal, direct contact. Data, on the other hand, manages to give back this contact to a certain point by showing us what the customer likes. Ultimately, it's all about gaining competitive advantage, meaning companies need to gain insight into their customers and the market that the competition does not have. This is only provided by primary data, which explains again why companies need direct access to the customer.

If marketing leaders and their teams actively address these challenges, digitization offers a vast array of opportunities.

By Daniela La Marca