Fascinating perspectives present and future, delivered by The Future of Marketing Initiative, University of Oxford and Teradata.

Teradata recently joined forces with Saïd Business School (SBS), University of Oxford to host a day-long conference, part of the Oxford Future of Marketing Initiative led by SBS Associate Dean of Research and L'Oréal Professor of Marketing, Andrew Stephen.

Attended by leaders in marketing and analytics from leading companies including eBay, HSBC, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Gjensidige, and Celebrus, the event focused on consumer insights, digital transformation, plus the role of artificial intelligence (AI), data science and predictive analysis, as well as the impact of regulation for the marketers of tomorrow.

A lively and interactive day of discussion, debate and learning; delegates and academics alike contributed in-depth views and opinions on the exponential change that is being experienced in today’s world of technology. Here are some of the highlights:

The ever-evolving role of data in social and mobile

“If we want to interact with our customers where they are, the reality is that they are increasingly on Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Weibo and WeChat,” commented Martin Willcox, Senior Director, Teradata’s Go-To Market Organisation and event co-host.

Willcox deconstructed the role of data and social media for us, reminding the audience that social and mobile have become such a fundamental part of our everyday lives that it’s easy to forget that Facebook has only been accessible to the public since September 2006, and the iPhone only just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Throughout these past ten years, Teradata has seen the role of data become more significant amongst the social and mobile landscape, moving from simple insight gained from data to more sophisticated analytics where data is leveraged to understand the likes of our peers, colleagues and communities.

According to Willcox, brands competing in today’s fast moving competitive world must not only be open and responsive to the role of data in social and mobile, but must understand the technology customers are using in order to stay ahead of the game. It’s this combined online footprint that defines consumer preferences and buying behaviours.

‘Amazonification’ and the marketing skills challenge

“The right offer has to include great customer service,” Professor Andrew Stephen commented as he opened his session. “’The Amazon Generation’ today expect service in minutes and hours, not days.”

According to Professor Stephen, the retail industry had not been killed off by Amazon, but has done so itself through poor customer service. Consumer expectations have risen to new levels that have not been seen before because of ‘Amazonification’. The rise of social has brought with it ‘Generation Snowflake’ – customers who complain at the slightest issue – “pulling the trigger before thinking about it is also on the rise.”

Faced with this new social-connected world, Professor Stephen gave an overview of the changes and challenges marketing teams must meet. The direction of travel is clear: consumers are spending more-and-more time online – and more-and-more of that time is spent accessing social platforms using mobile devices. Marketers have several challenges to meet amid this new landscape.

Firstly, the marketing skills challenge is huge; brand people need science and data skills and need to be asking themselves how they upskill.

The future of marketing is all about the combination of left brain (data and science) and right brain (art and creativity). CMOs need both to master digital transformation and design exceptionally personalised experiences to propel growth.

According to Professor Stephen, by turning these analogue experiences into digital ones, marketers can also benefit from the increase in data and new touchpoints such as in-store and online apps, which will drive greater customer understanding.

The future will also see more brands investing in tech start-ups to develop new apps to digitise their products and create the ultimate customer experience. Marketing organisations will need to continue to leverage new platforms to know what customers are saying and sharing, and will need to be intrinsically linked to the digital experience so that data insights are at the heart of the marketing organisation.

The new face of marketing in a digital and connected world

Yasmeen Ahmad, Director of Thing Big Analytics, a Teradata company, described how the creative industry is using machine learning and analytics to develop new products and services. Humans will still create the narrative and innovate, and machines will support with data and analytics, providing intelligent automation at scale.

Ahmad explained that in 2017, Sony released its first album created by Artificial Intelligence and Netflix has launched entire series, like ‘House of Cards’, by applying advanced analytics to understand what customers want to see, as well as what will make for a successful product launch.

Consumer brands are launching new scents and flavours as well as coming up with winning combinations based on rich customer insights and trends they have gleaned from having access to huge amounts of data.

According to Ahmad, data is becoming increasingly complex and analysts now have to make sense of more than 50,000 variables within it to gauge what the customer is doing at any given moment. Businesses today need to get this insight and data analysis needs to be delivered in real-time.

For this to happen, businesses are realising they need to adopt some form of automation. Without this, users simply will not be able to make the millions of decisions necessary in today’s marketing environment. Ahmad continued: “The who, why, when and how of marketing campaigns will be automated, and analytics will support this.”

She also indicated that location will be key in determining consumer preferences for the marketer of the future. For example, some companies are deploying roadside billboards that can gain insight from video in order to display customised advertisements depending on the make and model of car passing by.

It’s a great example of how businesses are already using analytics to understand how location and environment influence buying decisions and improve conversion rates.

Consumers and their experiences: dehumanized, re-humanized

“The human-robot partnership will evolve and the jobs which traditionally exist in marketing will not be eradicated, they will change. The customer journey has drastically changed but there is more to come. We will be using robots, but they will also become more human.” This is the vision of Bernd Schmitt, Professor of International Business in the marketing department at Columbia Business School, Columbia University, New York.

Professor Schmitt went on to introduce the audience to Nadine, the robot receptionist, in order to demonstrate exactly how close the robot-human experience is becoming.

 Nadine chatted freely with the professor as to her potential role in healthcare and retail. Though somewhat stilted, her overall appearance was uncannily human, enough to create empathy with the audience. “In a few years, this robot experience will be even more human,” said Professor Schmitt, leaving the audience to ponder the deeper question as to the future role of the human as a species.

The role of the regulator – threat or opportunity?

A topic high on the agenda was the care businesses will need to take when using consumer data in future, as new regulations are introduced.

While some organisations are demonstrating their lack of readiness for GDPR, those that are prepared will recognise clear-cut benefits: consumers will be more likely to trust an organisation that looks after their personal data.

The upside of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is that it will kill off competitive data targeting; the best companies will keep their customer data private. “There will be competitive advantage in being ethical,” said Professor Stephen.

The Oxford Future of Marketing Initiative and the future

The Future of Marketing, a co-hosted event from Oxford University and Teradata, proved an amazing day of academic, industrial and commercial perspective surrounding both the challenges and the opportunities marketing within an increasingly connected-technology landscape.

With the brightest academic minds and high-level industry partners making predictions on new approaches to data and new customer-focused organisations, we learned how to use data in smarter ways. We also learned from the organisations that have been most successful in future-thinking marketing, who have really thought about how to frame the business challenges and opportunities. To these organisations, it’s not just about the data and technology, but change management and process improvement.

Teradata is proud to be an inaugural member of The Future of Marketing Initiative at the Oxford Saїd Business School. Throughout future global events and roundtables – which are planned over the next year – we look forward to addressing the crucial challenges faced by marketers of today and the future.


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