McKinsey Quarterly 2015 Number 1: Overview and full issue

By Allen Webb

This issue of the Quarterly, available here as a PDF download, describes the dawn of marketing’s next golden age, new ways to create value in the sales channel, the power of people analytics, and more.

Download the full issue of McKinsey Quarterly 2015 Number 1 (PDF–7.1MB).

A decade ago, McKinsey’s David Court, Jonathan Gordon, and Jesko Perrey argued in these pages that the “traditional marketing model is being challenged, and [marketers] can foresee a day when it will no longer work.”1 Since then, digitization has continued to complicate the media environment, but it also has created new ways of engaging with customers and understanding their needs.

In fact, Gordon and Perrey suggest in this issue’s lead article that we are on the cusp of a golden age for marketing, in which great storytelling and more scientific approaches come together in exciting ways. Marketers on the cutting edge are starting to master this fusion as they deliver valuable substance to their customers while simplifying their organizations so that they can operate with more speed. Mastering the rapid evolution of these five elements—science, substance, story, simplicity, and speed—will be a hallmark of those who thrive in the years ahead, say Gordon and Perrey. The exact shape of this shift will vary by industry, of course. In separate interviews, the marketing leaders of Google and Daimler paint rich pictures of the ways their companies are seeking to move the needle on creativity, analytic rigor, and organizational cohesion for a digital age.

Sales and distribution, too, have been on the front lines of the digital revolution. Web-based tools have been boosting the efficiency and effectiveness of salespeople for years, while data and analytics have enabled better channel management. At the same time, argue the authors of “Do you really understand how your business customers buy?,” purchasing patterns have become much less predictable, necessitating more sophisticated approaches to understanding customers and influencers, allocating resources, and building partnerships between sales and marketing. For companies selling long-lived assets, it’s increasingly possible to manage and monitor customer value along the entire asset life cycle, thereby creating new opportunities to stimulate growth, say the authors of “A virtuous cycle for top-line growth.”

Although data and analytics are tightly interwoven, with many of the advances taking place in marketing, sales, and beyond, there’s sometimes a mismatch between potential and reality. In “Getting big impact from big data,” David Court lays out fresh ways to exploit recent advances in analytics solutions, self-service tools, and machine learning, while mobilizing the organization to embrace these developments.

The Quarterly itself is evolving with the media environment. You might notice that this issue is slightly slimmer. That’s not because we’re producing less content—in fact, you’ll find a growing body of web-exclusive Quarterly content on mckinsey.com and the McKinsey Insights app—but because we can get to market faster with more high-impact top-management ideas by focusing first on digital-content creation. We are excited about this shift and more committed than ever to delivering the quality and rigor our readers expect in all of the channels where they read management content.

Download the full issue of McKinsey Quarterly 2015 Number 1 (PDF–7.1MB).

About the author(s)

Allen Webb is the editor in chief of McKinsey Quarterly and is based in McKinsey’s Seattle office.