Artist vs. Scientist

Are the marketing roles evolving or are they merging?

This week I saw an intriguing infographic comparing the role of Marketing Artist versus Marketing Scientist. I found it interesting because I have always considering marketing more of an artistic service. Yet, the way technology is emerging and transforming marketing and advertising one could argue that the marketing function is taking on more of a scientific role. After all, marketing journals and blogs promote such topics as big data, analytics, metrics, tracking, and return on investment. In the past, these terms were not normally discussed in the confines of marketing; but, now they are part of the lingo.

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Salesforce advocates that these two roles as separate and distinct. One focused on creativity and innovation (The Artist) and the other in data and analytics (The Scientist). Each persona has specific tools, techniques, tips, and strategies that they use to be successful. Modern marketing departments will successfully blend these two roles together.

In the context of artists and scientist, Jim Sterne defines the roles in terms of data. A data scientist is responsible for understanding and advancing the nature of data, its collection methods, and the algorithms for processing it. An artist is responsible for creating something new that delivers original insight and evokes emotion. A data artist must have a firm comprehension of hard science, a sound understanding of business goals and processes, a penchant for creativity, and a talent for communication – a very rare combination. A data artist must be a master of all digital media –ad networks, email campaigns, YouTube channel measurement and more – to create valid insights worthy of using as foundations for business decisions. I like that!

Marketers are challenged with old legacy systems and non-integrated data. Resources (scientist or artist) spend a significant amount of time analyzing what happened yesterday. They are running to catch up or get ahead of competitors. Even worse, those that work with “results” spend more time creating and distributing reports than truly analyzing. The insight is in the analysis, not the reports themselves. More resources are needed to explore the data and then let that inspire them. Imagine the possibilities!

So where’s this all going? I believe there is a huge shift toward more technology in marketing (see my previous blog), but how does the modern marketer truly blend the scientist and the artist?

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Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) to Work

The impact of consumerization of technology

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Do you bring your own device to work, such as a tablet or smart phone? If so, does your employer allow you to use it for work or personal activities?

It used to be that technology was confined to either the work or home environment. Now, devices are portable, affordable, and flexible enough that they go everywhere with us, including the office. Moreover, users are actually using their personal devices to perform work activities. The “consumerization of IT” is defined as the use of technologies that can easily be provisioned by non-technologists. This trend represents a fundamental shift between employers and employees.

But, what’s the impact? Gartner found 40% used personally owned smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops as a primary or supplemental business device and 45% of workers not required to use a personal device for work were doing so without their employer’s knowledge. Most users do not require traditional IT resources to connect, collaborate, share, or consume content. Employees demand to use their personally preferred mobile devices, personal computers, applications, social media, and cloud services wherever they go or in whatever they do. Technology has made employee empowerment easier, but not all organizations are embracing it. In fact, some organizations attempt to control it with strict policies or specific hardware and software requirements or company issued devices.

Is there a happy medium? Employers are concerned about everything affecting their brand – this incudes security, software viruses, viral content, breaches, etc. Employees believe they can and should be able to use their own devices to be more productive and stay in touch with the outside world. Both sides should work together to find common ground. CIOs must forge new, collaborative relationships with users, give them freedom to make IT decisions, and teach them how to assume responsibility for those decisions.

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…Help Me Out!

How Technology May Change The Dressing Room Experience

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In the story of Snow White, the magic mirror held great power. Oh, to have a mirror like that on a shopping trip!

I don’t know about you, but I have to psych myself up when shopping for clothes. I despise trips to the dressing room, especially if I end up shopping at more than one store. The process of undressing, trying on clothes, and then redressing is maddening! Because of this, I tend to overload my trip to the dressing room with different sizes and color options. Nearly all of us can relate to being situations where you love the style or color of an item, but the size wasn’t quite right. Yet, unless you have a friend or family member that can fetch another one, who wants to get redressed to go back out onto the sales floor only to have to go through the undress/try on/redress process. Get the picture?

But, there are some cool technology advancements just around the corner that may make the trip to the dressing room less painful and…fun!

Nordstrom is testing smart mirrors in the dressing room that have the ability to act as a website. With the tap of a customer’s finger, the mirror turns into an interactive screen, effectively creating smart fitting rooms. The intent is to bring technology into an area (the dressing room) that is normally not automated, but highly influences the consumer’s buying decision. Additionally, Bloomingdale’s is adding mounted iPads on the wall of their dressing rooms. Bloomingdale’s solution is not quite as sophisticated or high-tech as interactive mirrors, but it’s a step in the right direction. With this technology, customers can scan bar codes to find colors or sizes and to see what’s in stock. Additionally, they can request an associate bring an item to them without having to leave the dressing room.

How about not even having to get undressed at all to try on clothes? Yes, it maybe possible. Emerging retail technology is considering how holograms can play into the dressing room experience. British digital agency Engage created a Virtual Style Pod that scanned shoppers and created a life-size image onto which luxury clothing from brands like Alexander McQueen and DKNY were projected. Now, that’s pretty cool stuff!

But, this technology is not just about making the shopping experience more pleasant for the customer. Retailers are learning how to use their brick and mortar stores to service customers like never before. As customers shopping preferences shift to more digital avenues, retailers are figuring out how to integrate their physical store locations into the digital shopping experience.

It looks like having a “magic mirror” maybe quite possible after all. I for one cannot wait for the dressing room revolution!

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Twitter Embraces New Features

New Release Shows Twitter Can Change

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Dismal market news dogged Twitter for much of 2014, as investors were continually concerned about the growth of the user base and the strategic direction of the company. In July, Market Watch reported shares had fallen 9.5% since first-quarter results were released in late April, and were down 39% year-to-date, mainly due to investor worries that the company’s user base wasn’t growing fast enough. A Huffington Post article later reported that Twitter posted a loss of $175 million, or 29 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2014. Additionally, Twitter was repeatedly compared with Facebook – both in number of users and flexibility. In the first quarter of 2014, Twitter reported 255 million monthly active users, compared to Facebook’s 1.3 billion monthly users. Facebook added new features and facelifts while Twitter’s functionality remained relatively unchanged.

But, 2015 brings a New Year and new promise for Twitter. This month, Twitter announced it is rolling out two new features, which are designed to make the platform more appealing. One feature is private group messaging and the other is the ability to shoot, edit and post videos directly through the Twitter app. While Twitter hopes to capture more new users to the platform, it also wants its current user base to use the site more often. According to Robert Peck, managing director and Internet equity analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, some analysts believe the new features, investments in advertising technology, and the company’s outreach to third-party software developers could be potential catalysts for Twitter having a “Facebook moment” in 2015.

Clearly, video is the king of content. Just on YouTube alone, over 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute! That is why the new video feature of Twitter maybe one of the most important. Previously, the only way for most Twitter users to share video was through Vine, Twitter’s standalone video app (which provided short, 6-second clips). Now, Twitter users can add video up to 30 seconds in length. Twitter for iPhone users can upload videos from the camera roll and Twitter promises to be expanding this functionality to Android soon. Twitter hopes the addition of video will promote richer, more frequent, and shareable content.

The new group messaging feature allows users to start conversations with up to 20 people on Twitter. Those people do not all have to follow each other to chat privately. Since its inception, Twitter has largely been focused on public conversations. Yet, with this new release, the ability for private conversations will be realized. This type of functionality should promote greater levels of engagement with users. Maybe more users who enjoy Facebook for its social collaboration will migrate to Twitter now that more social interactivity is possible. You can bet that’s what Twitter is aiming for.

Are We Too Connected?

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Brad Paisley has a song, “Welcome to the Future”, where he reminisces about childhood wishes, such as being able to watch TV on long trips and having arcade games at home. Now these things are available on his phone, from the palm of his hand. This kind of modernization is exciting and intoxicating. What was once thought impossible is now possible. We are lead to believe that if we just get connected and live in the digital stratosphere our lives will be easier, simpler, and smarter. With a simple press of a button we can manage bank accounts, buy products, play a game, or connect with people and brands we love. Even social media sites provide the ability to connect, but without face-to-face or telephonic conversations. We are easily convinced to join, like, share, upload, click, or check in. But, what’s the price we pay to reach ultimate connectivity? Is being so digitally connected really helping us or making us smarter?

A 2012 research report by Pew Research Center describes how analysts believe many young people growing up in today’s networked world and counting on the Internet as their external brain will be nimble analysts and decision-makers who will do well. However, these experts also expect that constantly connected teens and young adults will
thirst for instant gratification and often make quick, shallow choices. Survey respondents think educational reform and greater emphasis on social skills will be necessary in the future. Moreover, 42 percent of survey respondents agreed with the statement:

“In 2020, the brains of multitasking teens and young adults are ‘wired’ differently from those over age 35 and overall it yields baleful results”

The survey presents some interesting insights about concerns in the decline of deep analytical skills, critical thinking, and the ability of young adults to focus for long periods of time. Yet, Christopher Ferguson’s main point is that America is in a state of “moral panic.” This state of moral alarm is very similar to the outrage that shook up the nation’s prevailing, orthodox mores at the advent of cultural events such as comic books, rock and roll, and Dungeons and Dragons.

Is emerging technology presenting truly smarter options or are we sacrificing precious social and analytical skills in order to live by machine? As Sophocles once said, “Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.”

Let’s Get It Started

Our lives are surrounded by various forms of media – both traditional media forms, such as print, television, and telephonic, as well as emerging media, such as video, mobile, and social media.  Before jumping in to various topics on emerging media, let’s consider what is meant by the term.  According to West Virginia University’s IMC 619 Emerging Media and the Market class, emerging media is a “global term to cover social, digital and mobile communications”.  Think about how the vast array of devices interact with our daily lives.  It is an integral part of how we function and the majority of the population seems to have access to this emerging technology.  Pew Research Center states that 90 percent of people have a cell phone with 58 percent having a smart phone.  The capabilities of emerging media have surpassed what most people thought was possible just a few years ago.  Today, people can move seamlessly between conversations, web browsing, social interaction, etc. all from the palm of their hand.  Such levels of engagement and connection have also created a huge dependency on this type of media.  Most people admit they cannot do without their cell phone.  In fact, Pew’s Research shows that 44 percent of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night and 29 percent admit they cannot imagine living without their cell phone.

For marketers, the constant change in the emerging media landscape is dizzying and the capabilities require  constant nimbleness and creativity.  However, a marketer’s best friend in the emerging media market is data.  The more the better.  Marketers are using data to zero in and personalize their message to specific audiences.  Companies are turning to computer models that analyze massive pools of information to make inferences about health, personality traits, and even mood in real-time, in order to help them predict, and ultimately influence, the customer’s next purchase.  The sophisticated way in which it is now possible to gather or collect information about a consumer resembles a science fiction movie (think Minority Report).  Except the technology isn’t futuristic.  It is here.

While emerging media may seem invasive or intrusive, most consumers prefer to have an emotional connection with brands.  Michael Lazerow, the chief marketing officer of the Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, states that “the value of targeted marketing isn’t just from the marketing message itself, it’s from the intelligence and optimization” — data — “with each interaction that builds a one-to-one relationship with each customer to increase brand loyalty and drives sales.” There is a delicate balance between giving the customer what they want without being seen as intrusive.  Emerging media will always push the envelope and make us think and act in a whole new (and hopefully) smarter way.