Accenture Interactive On Convergence of Creative, Data, And Tech

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glen-hartmanAs global managing director of digital consulting for Accenture Interactive, Glen Hartman sits at the intersection of technology and marketing. With a focus on helping CMOs navigate their changing agendas, Accenture Interactive works to create relevant digital marketing for consumers at scale for their clients, as more competition joins the fray in 2013.

“Delivering relevant messages is great and it is important and there are a lot of companies that can do that on a campaign basis for a brand or for a product launch,” Hartman told AdExchanger. “But to be able to do that at scale… that is the big challenge and what they are looking for in a marketing service provider.”

What advertising and marketing trends do you see as we start 2013?

GLEN HARTMAN: One thing we’re seeing is that marketing is growing up. It’s no longer about the "four Ps of marketing." We’re seeing the CMO agenda expanding. There’s a lot of talk in the market about how the CMO is forecasted to outspend the CIO in technology in the years ahead. The convergence of the media and creative with the data, analytics, and technology is pervasive and dealing with that convergence makes us grapple with a new truth: marketing is inextricably linked to technology.

At the core of this is a lot of focus around the consumer experience and the way people are engaging with brands. It’s a lot different now. There is this idea of moving beyond episodic campaigns and creating more ongoing continuous communication. And engagement is the new way of measuring marketing performance and effectiveness.

We see a big trend around -- and I’m stating the obvious here -- mobile, but using mobile more like a lightning rod: a way of bringing all these things together. For the concepts we’re talking about, moving beyond campaigns to ongoing experiences, mobile is a driver and enabler of that. It can help you be an extension of those campaigns or those ongoing experiences and not just be seen as a separate channel.

Technology and marketing consulting appears to be heating up with companies like Sapient, Cognizant, and WPP increasing their investment. How do you see things shaking out in 2013?

It’s very interesting. There’s this new agenda for the CMOs and they now have to deal with showing the CFO how they are making a return on investment, and showing the CEO how they have made business impact, and connecting with the technology team and CIO. There are so many things the CMO has to care about and address that they never did before.

Because of that, the CMO, brand managers, and marketers in general are looking for a new kind of marketing service provider. What it entails is something -- a company or firm -- that can address all these trends we’re talking about: the convergence of media and technology with data and analytics. They need someone who can sit at the intersection of those areas to help enable the CMO to help drive that new agenda.

The marketing strategy is actually focused a lot on the explosion of data sources: social and mobile, and understanding how to cross-reference that with in-store purchase data, point-of-sale data, and the differences across the globe. This data, and the analytic services that go with it, are a far cry from the capabilities of the past, which are focused on creative and brand strategies. These new services require a new kind of rigor and a deep technology backbone to enable it.

When we’re seeing holding companies partnering with technology companies or the acquisitions and consolidations going on, they are all trying to race to this center between understanding the creative process, which is important, and the technology side, and leveraging the data and analytics. It’s quite complex and there is a long road ahead to be able to supply something like that -- a product center that understands all three of those areas.

Through this consolidation and through these agencies coming to market, a lot of them are trying to sell their own systems and create their own platforms, which is good. But, there has already been a lot of investment out there, on behalf of clients. We take more of a platform-agnostic approach and we try to get depth and expertise in many of these systems so we can help leverage the investments that have already been made and help identify what the best solution is for the client rather than force-fitting. If you are trying to move at speed…you need to find a way to build on what they have already invested in while innovating at the same time.

What, as a company, do you do with regards to digital marketing yourself? And how do you get the name and brand out there more?

Our clients asked us to get into this business. They know Accenture and they trust Accenture and our ability to handle large, complex global technology problems. Building on that reputation and leveraging it for marketing toward the CMO agenda is the approach that we take. It’s this idea of creating a way for CMOs to access a full range of end-to-end marketing solutions: strategy, customer analytics, campaigns, other omni-channel stuff we talked about before, and being able to do this at scale is a big differentiator for us.

It may not come across all the time because people view Accenture more as a technology company from our roots, but we have been working with the CMO for a long time. We have robust CRM, analytics, and customer practices. Accenture Interactive is working with more than $10 billion in annual media and marketing spend for our clients today. This is the front part of the marketing agenda and it is a major part of the growth of Accenture Interactive and where we’re continuing to focus moving forward with the CMO.

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