As we look ahead at 2017, I’ve been hearing the same key trends and focus areas from our marketing clients. Marketing leaders are focused on making content marketing more efficient, driving ROI, incorporating the Internet of Things and connected devices into their strategy, and leading with a mobile-first mindset.

To learn more about how marketing technology will affect strategy in 2017 and beyond, I caught up with Antenna consultant Jennifer Kemp, a marketing tech and digital strategy expert. Her work with large B2B companies puts her at the center of these conversations, and she recently attended the Digital Experience (DX) Summit in Chicago to talk to other marketing technology and DX thinkers about what trends are affecting marketers now.

Kemp says some companies have been downplaying the importance of their web presence — especially B2B companies that don’t sell directly to customers through an e-commerce site. But now, she says, “everyone knows their customers are living, playing and working on the web,” and companies know their web presence is extremely important and needs to continually evolve.

Here are five trends and big ideas she says she’s watching for 2017.

Marketing tech’s success depends on getting buy-in from the top

Kemp says she’s not surprised by the increasing speed of change and the disruption that change causes. But because of that rapid change, she says, “we’ve moved far beyond ‘digital’ as a marketing capability. It’s IT, customer service, sales, delivery and operations. It’s so massive and so expensive to keep up that it completely freezes movement at some companies.”

Marketing has become more integrated into the heart of organizations, and marketing technology now affects almost every department. “These tools cross all areas of an organization, and they need to be funded that way,” she says. In order for new tools to succeed, they have to have executive sponsorship at the most senior level — leadership vision can make or break the success of a new platform or tool, she says.

Marketing tech and change management go hand-in-hand

Major digital strategy projects “almost always force disruption and changes with people and processes,” and this means leaders should include change-management work in their digital strategies, Kemp says.

“We do very specialized work in the digital space — content, analytics. The people doing that work need to be properly trained and need to be allowed to grow into a space like that, or you might need to hire new people,” she says. People changes are “very sensitive, but are required if you’re going to spend several million dollars on a new platform, design and implementation process,” she says.

Rethinking your digital priorities can help you move forward faster

Kemp says she’s learned that organizations shouldn’t prioritize every digital space or competency. To prioritize what really matters for your organization and customers, she suggests setting goals and mapping them along a “digital maturity model” over the course of three to five years. Taking the long view can help you “more realistically map what you want to do and where it should be on that maturity model,” she says.

For example, she says that at some companies, the web might not be the top digital priority: “Maybe the web is a 3 out of 5 in terms of importance, but marketing automation is a 4 and Internet of Things is a 5. Maybe the real innovation you’re driving is on the manufacturing floor, so that’s where you need to focus your attention and budget. Not every goal needs to be a 5 out of 5 at every company.”

Globalization, localization and translation are growing more important

Kemp notes that more multinational companies are seeking to provide content in multiple languages. “It’s an important and complex area,” she says. “The cost of translation is significant, not just for the first big translation job, but also for ongoing maintenance.”

Global political trends also are affecting companies’ marketing budgets and habits. For example, when companies want to have a web presence in China, they’re required to host the site in-country and get a special content license for the Chinese government. Russia is following a similar path now. She says she’s watching the way these trends affect global budgets and plans: “If these digital walls keep going up, and companies have to pay for servers and lawyers and separate licenses in-country, it’s going to impact business growth strategy,” she says.

We’ll see the next big digital changes ‘outside the desktop’

Kemp says she believes the next wave of change will move beyond foundational technology like CMS, CRM and ERP. “What’s exciting now is what’s happening outside your desktop and phone — the Internet of Things, the industrial Internet of Things, smart cities initiatives, medical tech and food tech, to name a few,” she says.

To learn more about the DX Summit, visit dxsummit.com. Over the next few months we’ll continue to report on the innovation and big ideas that Antenna consultants and clients are bringing to the market.


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