Digital customer dialogue of the future – part 1

There are many prognoses about the future of the customer relationship and marketing. How can one separate the hype from developments to be taken seriously? We take a look at the digital future in our “Digital customer dialogue of the future” blog series. Part 1: Stephan Sigrist, founder of the think tank W.I.R.E. talks about the “Decoding Digital Marketing” study project.

Stephan Sigrist, founder and head of the think tank W.I.R.E.

What does the “Decoding Digital Marketing” study involve? To what degree is the name also the study program?

It first involves creating an overview in an enormously dynamic market environment. Many marketing managers ask themselves which of the latest promises are real and which are really just hype. We attempt to offer some orientation here. Data-based marketing provides a maximization of efficiency and the possibility for ever increasing personalization, which then only delivers benefits when it is filled with relevant content. This requires a new way of thinking for marketing, as well as new skills. We seek to question existing myths with the study – to “decode” digital marketing, so to speak.

“Many marketing managers ask themselves which of the latest promises are real and which are really just hype.”

Stephan SigristFounder and head of the think tank W.I.R.E.

What developments did you identify as hype and which are to be taken seriously?

The hype regarding data, which is to be traded as the new gold, must be demystified. Algorithms and machine learning will grow in significance in view of the large data volumes and the further use thereof, but will especially deliver added value with repetitive processes. Augmented or virtual reality can be used to stage brands or for consultation services, but they too require the human factor. The core challenges involve data security and the (re-)gaining of the customer’s trust in the age of fake realities. This happens through values – not through data.

“In the digitization age, marketing experts are needed more than ever to develop creative narratives.”

Stephan Sigrist

What does this now mean for the routine work of marketing specialists and communication professionals?

In the digitization age, marketing specialists are needed more than ever to develop creative concepts and narratives which differentiate. Central to this is the orchestration and understanding of customer needs. This forms the basis for focusing on solutions that provide a real benefit. It is important not to do everything that is technically possible, but that which truly delivers added value for the user. Only those who truly know customers have a chance to conduct intelligent marketing. Furthermore, knowledge about new technologies and touchpoints will be important for marketing specialists of the future. We assume that machine learning will be replaced by machine teaching. This requires well-trained professionals to drive it in the right direction.

What brought BSI and W.I.R.E. together? What issues do we have in common?

Stephan Sigrist: We have been in contact with BSI for many years and have consistently discussed new developments in the context of digitization and their consequences. We have noticed that the view of the future of digital marketing is clouded by fears and over-the-top expectations. What is lacking is a clear analysis of the effective potential and the necessary measures and tools. That is why we have decided, together with BSI, to conduct a study to take an in-depth look at the future of the transformation of marketing in the data age.

In a nutshell: The most important finding of the study – in one sentence?

The digital transformation of marketing is progressing and becoming reality. Despite ever more data, more precise channel management and new automation possibilities, human intelligence remains the differential for the creative-strategic aspect of marketing.

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