Restructuring your organization in the digital age

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McKinsey partner Jeff Jacobs recently spoke at the Connections 2014 CMO Summit about digital’s effect on the consumer decision journey

What did you talk about?

I talked about how the companies that are winning today are the ones who are shaping the consumer decision journey (CDJ) rather than just communicating to customers along it. What do I mean by shaping the CDJ? Well, I described how the best companies understand their most important segments of customers to a very granular level – who they are, what their actions and behaviors are, and what messages and content interest them. Then the strongest companies think about where each of these customers are in the decision journey and what the experience they want the consumer to have. If, for example, it’s a bank looking to sell mortgages, they might think more upstream—at the beginning of the home-buying process—and make it easier to find a house, get information about local schools, make an appointment, etc. They use available data on credit and assets to be proactive about making an offer to the buyer, provide guidelines about what s/he can afford to buy—they make the entire mortgage process seamless. And then once the consumer buys the house, a top-performing bank could provide additional offers including move-in services, discounts at local retail stores, or lists of top contractors, thereby continuing to build the relationship with the consumer. It’s that kind of “total” view of the customer and how to interact with him/her throughout the journey that really separates the best from the rest.

What resonated with the audience?

The idea of being a digital competitor who shapes the journey vs. being a company that “does some digital” really seemed to resonate with the audience and other panel members. Most people recognize the growing importance of continual engagement and personalization. However, the area where there was a lot of interest was around how companies shift to be more agile (e.g., use of data, test-and-learn mindset, etc.) and how they build capability to improve decision-making, especially when it comes to shaping the consumer’s journey. After all, data and analytics are not just for the analytics group anymore; all marketers must have more of the capability if they want to be relevant to the customers.

What did you learn during the event?

There are lots of data and tools to help leaders make sense of data, but the issue is how to build the right suite of tools, models, and capabilities across the business to do that effectively. It’s not about hiring more whiz kids. This is about providing marketing leaders with the processes, talent, and transparency into marketing performance to make and act on trade-offs. There is a lot of angst about trade-offs, in particular between investing in digital and traditional channels: How do I know where to allocate my spend? How can I do that in real time to react to opportunities or threats? How can I scale that?  Marketers have a lot of data and tools, but they need to ensure that those elements actually help make better decisions and then that they have the people with the right capabilities to act on the decisions. A few of the speakers drove home how important it is to connect up the tools, data, and capabilities—if any one of them isn't good, the whole thing breaks down.