Marketing Needs Some (Decisioning) Authority

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For years, marketers have been hamstrung by the notion that to succeed, we had to maximize performance in each function and channel – and by doing so, we could optimize the overall performance of our organization.

It feels true, intuitively… like capitalism at its most basic, right? In the US, we were taught this lesson since grade school. If everyone takes care of business and hits their numbers, the whole company (or team, or family… pick your metaphor) wins. That the whole is equal to the sum of all those parts. Everyone has to be accountable and contribute, but if we maximize individual contribution, we’ll come out on top.

We’ve based the entire marketing profession around this idea, designed our compensation plans, investment strategies, analytic approaches, and technology around it… and it’s killing us.

Think about it. Customers see your logo, and that’s YOUR logo. Anywhere and everywhere. There are no individuals, from their perspective – just one brand, and one experience.

They don’t know that underneath the covers, their interactions with our brands are driven by 30+ systems, which are largely disconnected. That our business lines don’t share knowledge data, systems, or capabilities. That our email sends come from 9 different ESPs. That our digital ad placements are controlled by account managers at our agencies. And that the experience in our call-centers, branches, and retail stores is an order of magnitude removed from anything else going on.

That is the push to maximize each channel and function, we’ve architected ourselves into a corner – by optimizing for the short term within siloed channels, and ignoring the overall customer relationship.

But they do know that the resulting experiences are a nightmare – that anytime they touch our brands, they can’t find what they’re looking for, the left hand doesn’t seem to know what the right is doing, everything takes too long, and nobody seems to know them at all –  even if they’re a 10 year customer, holding a dozen different products and services. Now that customer experience has become such a massive competitive differentiator, we’ve reached the point where there needs to be a decisioning authority – a brain – to orchestrate across those experiences and approach customer relationships more strategically.

By establishing a single decision authority that crosses multiple channels (what Gartner calls a Smart Hub), our channels immediately begin learning together and leveraging cross-channel data and intelligence to adapt with the customer – instead of pushing offers and messages without understanding their full context.

It helps us address problems like:

Lack of message relevance

Any single channel has only a small view into what’s really going on with a customer, which makes it difficult to score customer propensity and determine what they really need. Even when channels are connected by a data warehouse, there’s usually a 24-hour data lag, which means that you can’t determine a customer’s current context… and you miss any window of opportunity to show them something relevant.

Colliding campaigns and channels

Any unconnected channel is a missed opportunity, not only to add intelligence, but also to learn, and to create value. And its activity will actively work against our overall goals. Because it isn’t linked to a single decision authority, it will make decisions that collide with the rest of our strategy – pushing offers at the wrong time, ignoring customer context, creating blind spots, and disjointing the overall experience. 

Bad performance projections

If several marketing programs touch the same customers, you can’t predict their combined impact on the overall relationship, and on the overall company – things like retention, customer satisfaction, sales, and revenue. You’re in reactive mode by default. Any organization without active, centralized customer intelligence is running their engagement half-blind.

Dysfunctional Change Management

A centralized strategy gives you one place to design, test, deploy, monitor, and rollback strategy changes. Having all customer interactions governed by a single decision authority makes change management safer, better informed, and more operationally efficient. How can an organization possibly manage multiple decision-making systems that influence each other, but are managed and executed separately?

For more information on centralized decisioning really works, you can read Crossing the Chasm from Campaigns To Always On Marketing from the team at Pegasystems – or watch our presentation at the upcoming Movable Ink Think Summit, on October 29th in NYC.

About the Author

Matt Nolan, Sr. Director of Product Marketing, Decision Sciences

Matthew Nolan is the head of Product Marketing for the Decision Sciences division at Pegasystems, driving Pega’s portfolio of marketing technology, decision management, and customer engagement solutions. Before joining Pega, Matt was General Manager of the National Data Cooperative at Target Analytics and served as Product Director for Analytics & Data Services at Blackbaud, Inc. A life-long marketing practitioner and analyst, he is a regular keynote speaker, an active supporter of the American Red Cross, a green-blooded Boston Celtics fan, and has held membership in the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) since 2004.