In December, the consultancy consolidated its digital divisions into Accenture Digital, an arm that includes its CMO advisory Accenture Interactive and mobility and analytics services. This move followed the acquisitions of design and creative agency Fjord and ecommerce services company Acquity Group.
As Joanna O’Connell, research director at AdExchanger, illustrated in her study, “organizations face myriad challenges in moving to a data-driven model of customer-centric marketing, not the least of which is cultural – and, as often follows, organizational change.”
While a CMO Insights study by Accenture Interactive estimated that digital will account for 75% of CMO marketing budget in the next five years, 79% of those surveyed do not believe their company is properly equipped to handle this shift.
Glen Hartman, Accenture Interactive’s global managing director of digital transformation, spoke with AdExchanger.
AdExchanger: What’s the most profound trend Accenture Interactive’s been following in the last year?
GLEN HARTMAN: Instead of having episodic campaigns, (marketers are looking for ways to) connect experiences across multiple touch points in an ongoing way. Instead of, for example, in financial services, doing campaigns to drive more people to online banking, what are the interactions the bank has for all of its touch points? What kind of experience would a person who’s a teller in the bank have? What would the experience online be or in mobile? How do all of these things connect and what are the customer journeys you’d want to be able to reverse-engineer around certain kinds of outcomes? That kind of thinking – to put that design mentality to look at how customers are engaging – is what we’re seeing.
How has this impacted your own strategy?
Accenture has a long history of working through operating models and business processes and things like that as it’s related to big technology platforms, but being able to harness that to be able to speak to the customer was something we wanted to get closer to. With (acquisitions) like Fjord, for instance, they use a phrase called “service design” where they’re taking any experience and turning it more into an ongoing service for the end user. Acquity, in many ways, has pioneered merging creative and user experience services with strategy and enabling technology.
Accenture is one of the largest implementers of SAP in the world and Acquity happens to be the largest implementer of hybris in North America. We wanted to be able to get a more robust delivery capability and subject matter expertise around hybris. Not soon after that happened, SAP bought hybris, and one of the big things we’re seeing is the integration and merger of technology and enablement with customer-facing engagement. It’s no longer the CIO just purchasing a commerce solution on their own.
To what extent is enterprise tech merging with media? Does Accenture execute the media buy as well?
We’re not in the media-buying business. We’re in the customer experience business and we’re reverse-engineering our initiatives, marketing programs and helping clients do that around outcomes. The outcome thing is a big distinction. We might end up doing some media buying because when we go in to a client organization, we promise a certain amount of outcomes. If you’re a consumer company, you want 5% or 10% increase in conversions for a certain product online. We’re going to optimize your search and your display and maybe take a look at your mix media modeling to see how much you should shift your TV budgets into Web, for instance. We’re optimizing the experience. We are held responsible for the outcome.
How is this changing client retention? Systems integrators and IT as agency advisor?
Historically, Accenture has been known for technology and strong relationships with the CIO, but Accenture Interactive was built exclusively to address the extended purview of the CMO into marketing, sales, service and others. We’re seeing the merging of digital marketing and ecommerce or analytics with customer experience and creative. The same is true with agencies.
When you deal with the complexity of the technology and analytics role in marketing today, the CMO typically has long history of going with their creative agency or agency of record for customer-facing experiences. But those days are changing. Companies which have roots in technology and data and analytics usually have more credibility when (a client says they’d) rather go talk to somebody who’s done a global deployment driven by technology and analytics and then move up the chain to work with our creative and design teams.
Who is Accenture’s greatest competitor?
A lot of people talk about the merging of the agency and technology world, but what our clients are coming to us with is the merger of creative and agency world with management consulting. It becomes more of a conversation around change management and operating models, and organizational design. That’s just way outside the purview of the traditional agency and the project management required to make that new operating model work to help them become a digital company. I believe when you take empirical analysis, there are few firms that are bringing management consulting in with change management and bringing that to the marketing space. The other companies have parts of it, but we’re not seeing the full, integrated approach and the ability to do it at scale.
What was most compelling to you from your CMO study research?
Something like 75% see some fundamental shift in the way marketing is going to take place in an organization and the need and understanding of digital. A close or equal percentage also said they thought their organization would not be able to get there within the next five years. To me, that was very telling in that the CMO is still underestimating the impact they can have as it relates to driving digital transformation. Our view of marketing performance is sales, service, loyalty, the full continuum. It is no longer a linear marketing funnel. It requires new steps of engagement. It’s a key takeaway for the CMO to try and use the passion and knowledge they have for the brand and the consumer and use that as a catalyst to drive more collaboration across the C-suite in their organization and as a way to help drive future spending.
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