Marketing’s changing role

Marketing as a function has seen a tremendous shift in its purpose and has increasingly become synonymous with data, analytics, and technology. However, recent disruptions in consumer lives have increasingly predicated that marketing becomes the functional catalyst that marries technology with humanity. Marketers now holistically think about not only the data that is collected, but also the context in which it was collected.

Here’s an example: An educated consumer might typically purchase technology products 1x/year during the holiday season to take advantage of seasonal sales like Black Friday. The internet, social media and this consumer’s purchasing history shows that this consumer makes technology-related purchases every holiday season. However, contextually what might be happening is that this consumer is only browsing technology-related products because they buy a gift for a loved one every year—and there is a marked difference in the experience a true technology whiz is looking for versus a casual browser who is looking for a gift for a loved-one!

A solid understanding of the data, in addition to the context behind the data, is what enables marketers today to push the right message, at the right time, to the right customer(s), in the right context. In the example above, designing an experience around technology gift purchases for customers who are not very tech-savvy themselves is what will drive consumer loyalty versus an experience designed around features and competitive product nuances. Customers are now keenly looking for experiences – not product and services. Companies that best-understand this, get that much closer to customer-centricity.

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What does being customer-centric really mean?

Customer-centricity is achieved when the entire organization or business is structured around the needs of their customers and prospects. It stems from a deep, fundamental understanding of its customers (enterprise, small and medium sized businesses, consumers) based on intelligence (likely AI-based analytics) in combination with contextual qualitative research. The key to understanding customers and prospects is truly optimizing the balance around Human + Machine. Once organizations understand their customers and prospects, they can begin designing experiences around the unmet needs of their customers and prospects. However, designing these experiences is far more difficult than building products for a specific use-case. That is because experiences include everything from:

  • Brand and purpose (what the organization stands for)
  • Features and specifications (the actual product/service being offered)
  • Commercial models (one-time purchase vs subscription)
  • Customer service standards

Customer-centricity means that the company has thought through all purpose-based decisions—what an organization will stand for, what (and how) things will be built and delivered, what ongoing relationships will be needed to support the diverse needs of the customer.

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Marketers need to holistically think about not just the data that is collected but also the context in which it was collected.

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Customer-centricity in the High-Tech Industry

The High Tech industry is the “industry that transformed the world” and will continue to do so. In today’s dynamic market shifts resulting from Covid-19, supply chain constraints, techno-politics and more, the high-tech industry has shown resilience and relevance. In that sense, the High Tech industry has become one of the most exciting industries to watch (and participate in) as participants continue to push the envelope of innovation and new business models. However, to continue the growth trajectory, resilience and specially relevance, Marketing must take a leadership role.

The High Tech industry across all customer segments (enterprise, SMB’s, consumers) is seeing demand for innovation and differentiation. As such, industry players grapple with interesting decision points around commercial models (recurring revenue, as-a-service, subscription), the blurring of industry lines (convergence), as well as portfolio reinvention as companies adapt to 5G, edge, and AI/ML (artificial intelligence/machine learning). These decisions are capital and resource intensive, and not easily reversible. So, how can these High Tech industry players reduce the risk associated with these key decisions? The answer is customer-centricity! Business decisions must be made with customers and prospect experience requirements at the core, and must commit to continuous improvement, product/service evolution, innovation, and ecosystem enablement.

Mobilizing customer-centricity across an organization is not just Marketing’s job. Finance must be willing to invest in customer relationships and in R&D, Operations must be willing to support customer expectations, Technology must be willing to experiment with the right balance of human touch and machine, and Sales must be empowered to deliver the best products and services in conjunction with the right information—as all consumers tend to have the best experiences when well-informed. Marketing, however, is that key business function that is responsible for being the voice of the customer internally—and the voice of the brand externally. So in many ways, the business case for customer-centricity is championed by Marketing leaders and results in understanding and serving the needs of customers in the most effective and unique ways.

Please stay tuned for our next blog about enabling AI-powered sales and service in support of customer-centricity!

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This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors. This document refers to marks owned by third parties.  All such third-party marks are the property of their respective owners.  No sponsorship, endorsement or approval of this content by the owners of such marks is intended, expressed or implied.

Farhan Farooqui

Senior Manager – Strategy, High Tech 

Deborah Garand

Managing Director – Strategy and Consulting, High Tech

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