Is ‘Marketing-as-a-Service’ hype or reality?

Matt Preschern, CMO at HCL Technologies, examines the pros and cons of Marketing-as-a-Service.

Marketing-as-a-Service might be the future of marketing, but it has to be deployed thoughtfully if you want to reap the benefits of speed to market and increased customer satisfaction

Word amongst CMOs is that the role of marketing is changing its position within organisations. Customer demands are rapidly increasing, speed to market is paramount and marketing is now multi-disciplinary: in essence, the ‘Art of Marketing’ and the ‘Science of Marketing’ have ‘merged.’ It is also more technology driven than ever before, expanding beyond its traditional realms into a new, digital environment.

Responding to challenges

So how do marketers respond to these challenges? How do they interact with prospects and customers in meaningful ways? How do they deliver tangible business impact to CEOs and sales leaders? How can they move fast, faster than ever before?

Core vs. non-core skills

Successful marketing leaders realise that marketing expertise is finite and not universally available inside most organisations. There is a need to define what’s core to an organisation (in-house) vs those skills that are ‘non-core’ and could be available for ‘hire, rent or buy.’

Matt Preschern, CMO of HCL Technologies

Technology as the great equaliser

New, increasingly cloud-based marketing tools are available, easy to use and often run by third parties. Think of cost efficient alternatives to traditional models, highly automated and increasingly operated outside of your firewall.

‘Buy vs. own’ your marketing infrastructure

With marketing teams being overworked and understaffed, bleeding-edge marketing leaders are creating scenarios where they ‘assemble’ marketing components on demand – fast, efficient and designed to deliver new customer experiences quickly and effectively!

Does this imply that all of marketing or the entire marketing function can or should be operated ‘as-a-Service?’ No – far from it. However, the operational backbone of effective marketing will increasingly move towards marketing-as-a-service.

Most marketing leaders today face a few real-life questions and challenges:

How to provide meaningful, increasingly real-time data and insights to your business? How to develop customer journeys and create memorable customer interactions (automated)? How to closely align sales and marketing tactics (CRM and marketing automation)? How to create compelling content – repeatedly, quickly and in a cost effective manner? How to engage and interact with your prospects and customers via social channels? How to measure customer (NPS) and business impact?

The answer(s) to these questions do not necessarily have to be ‘building (all of) those capabilities in-house.’ Of course, every business is different, but leading-edge marketers will have to choose the ‘core’ vs ‘non-core’ nature of their respective marketing function(s).

However, make no mistake; marketers are looking into ‘CRM and marketing automation as-a service, content-as-a-service, data & analytics-as-a service, even community as-a-service’ – today.

Marketers can ‘hire, rent or buy’ the necessary capabilities, skills and resources as part of a bundled service from leading edge, more often than not, technology-savvy 3rd parties.

This provides the flexibility to operate only as much marketing infrastructure as necessary and to coordinate across business units, geographies and third parties on one single platform. As such, it helps solve the ‘speed to market’ and ‘affordability’ question so many marketing leaders face today.

Marketing-as-a-Service (MaaS), if deployed in the strategic context outlined earlier, will continue to increase performance, scalability and flexibility, providing CMOs and their companies with the necessary momentum to outperform competitors. Keep in mind, however, that CMOs and heads of marketing cannot and should never outsource insight or core capabilities.

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