Salesforce CMO Guillaume Roques is the first to admit that 2016 has been a turbulent year for marketers. Even though events such as Brexit and Trump’s election victory have brought about political and economic uncertainty, he remains optimistic about the future.
“When you have turbulence you have to rethink your strategy and refocus, and that’s when you can capitalise on new opportunities,” he tells Marketing Week.
This year the cloud computing company acquired numerous companies, moving into artificial intelligence (AI), as well as deep and machine learning – all of which was shown off during its annual Dreamforce event.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Roques shares his thoughts on what is in store for marketers in 2017 and what their main challenges will be.
What trends have you seen flourish this year?
There is currently a convergence happening of various trends. Mobile, the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI are much more developed now – even though they have been around for years.
In the 90s you didn’t have the same amount of data available to make AI valuable for consumers. Nowadays, if you add that data to the IoT and connected devices, all that information together can provide you with a lot of insights that marketers weren’t able to have a couple of years back. The convergence of those different technologies can help you create personalised journeys for customers. All this tech is now converging so we can really reap the benefits of it.
What should marketers start doing in 2017?
It’s really important that the CMO also does the CIO job and vice versa due to the convergence of tech. Very often the IoT is perceived as being a technical project but it’s critical for the CMO to understand it too. It’s something they can learn a lot from and they can use to create new campaigns or ways of engaging with customers.
There are so many digital touchpoints, and as a CMO you need to understand how all these work together and how you connect the dots. You have to work very closely with the CIO, so it’s important to understand how they operate and what their constraints are. That kind of CIO-CMO synergy we will see even more in 2017 than before.
Digital transformation isn’t about how the CMO and CIO can work together to better manage those touchpoints, it’s about the CMO and CIO working together with the CEO to transform the way they are serving their customers. While before we were selling a product, we are now selling services or a customer experience. It changes the way you position your customers and how you position them within your system. For example, it’s interesting that Snapchat now calls itself a camera company. They’re saying it because they’re offering more than just a product – they’re providing a service.
Very often the Internet of Things is perceived as being a technical project, while it’s critical for the CMO to understand it too.
Guillaume Roques, Salesforce
What will be marketers’ main challenges?
To connect all those separate touchpoints and create a one-on-one personalised journey is still very difficult. We have so much data available that it’s impossible for any brain to fully understand it and see what’s possible. Even if you’re a data scientist, you get support from an algorithm to make sense of the data.
Another challenge for any marketer is to define what the customer journey should be. It’s very different from what marketers were doing before. Before, marketers were thinking in terms of statistics. For example, you had your different audience groups like the under- and over-40s. Nowadays, categories are dead.
We are no longer in a world where we’re segmenting using categories such as age or location; we are in a one-on-one world where we have to talk in a personalised way to everyone. It means we’re back to where we were in the beginning of the 20th century, where people knew their customers by name. That disappeared over time, which is why we invented the different segments to help us talk to each group in a different way – we didn’t know them per se. But now that we do know them, we can target them with something specific. Marketers shouldn’t think in terms of categories anymore and that’s their main challenge.