5 guiding principles for a new operating model

08 May 2017Kiran Chaugule


Today there are almost 4,000 marketing technology solutions in the marketplace, ranging from customer intelligence, to virtual reality, to chatbots, to ad-tech to personalisation. And that number increases almost daily. Take a look at Scott Brinker’s marketing tech landscapes to understand this pace. In fact, it’s nearly doubled in a year.

All of this is great for marketers, who are drooling at the thought of all the exciting and innovative possibilities for customer engagement. It has brought a deluge in the number of digital engagement ideas thrown at them every day. Whilst exciting, this creates a thorny challenge. How do you build a marketing platform and organisation that leverages the innovations in the marketplace without losing out on economies of scale and efficiency? Easier said than done!

The Rise of the Digital Marketing Platform

Over the last few years, digital marketing hubs, like Adobe Marketing Cloud, have come to the rescue of marketers, holding out the promise of abstracting the technology and making it easier to build new, exciting consumer experiences. But the way this is implemented in most organisations has given rise to a different kind of challenge.

All the digital projects that were previously distributed across the globe as individual in-market/brand projects are now rushing through a single funnel, down the throat of the new digital marketing platform. Unsurprisingly, the platform is choking. And time to market is suffering.

In an attempt to regulate this demand, marketing tech organisations have attempted to ‘standardise’ project requests by introducing red tape in defining, clarifying and justifying each new digital initiative. In their desire to have their project see the light of day, marketers are consequently stepping back from the more radical, innovative ideas. The net result, for marketers, is that their digital marketing platform acquires a dull shade of grey with dim hopes of any real innovation.

It is simply not sustainable to manage all demand through a single funnel as it quickly becomes the bottleneck to innovation and achieving faster time to market. Making your digital platform work well for you requires an organisational structure and operating model that supports innovation, while building the capabilities that increase the success rate of digital engagement initiatives.

Transforming your operating model

This requires a fundamental change to how marketing operates and engages with technology. Marketers and agencies are no longer ‘clients’ for the platform, dreaming up engaging customer experiences in a vacuum. They are partners; empowered by the platform to create these experiences. Here are our 5 tips to get you started:

  1. Start small. Start with a specific problem that you can solve. Don’t try to be all things at once. Start with a particular brand or market - somebody who will then evangelise the platform to other marketers
  2. Establish a marketplace. This is probably the most important bit. Open up your platform to partners and agencies, who go through a robust on-boarding programme. This ensures they have the capability and support to build innovative solutions on top.
  3. Adopt a beta mindset. If you have an idea, just build it. Just don’t go all out and spend the year’s budget on it. Build the core idea, mark it as beta and test it with a small segment of users. Be prepared to fail fast and improve.
  4. Get marketing and IT to work together. This is a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how often marketing and IT are still beavering away in their silos. Get them together in a room, organise a day out, build shared teams.
  5. Build the value proposition. What do the marketers and their agencies get out of it? What are the risks and rewards and what is the investment required?

Leveraging the Platform

A platform provides capabilities that are reusable, consistent and stable and that can undergo controlled change that adds advanced capabilities over time. More importantly, it allows others (agencies, marketers, tech partners) to build things on top, freeing them from the technical nitty gritty, to do what they are really great at - envisaging innovative customer experiences. However, to truly gain value from the platform, the organisation needs to adopt a new way of working and collaborating, both internally as well as externally through an updated operating model.

As Peter Drucker famously said, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old”.

Author: Kiran Chaugule
Published: 08 May 2017
digital platformsdigital marketingmarketing technologyoperating modelcustomer experience

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