To Transform Into ‘Uncarrier,’ T-Mobile Undid (And Retooled) Marketing

TMobileWhen T-Mobile discarded two-year customer contracts one year ago as part of its “Uncarrier” initiative, the company had to retool its enterprise to match the new business model, starting first with the marketing organization.

With less of a “lock in” with consumers, communication could no longer be few and far between. Messaging could no longer be delayed to hit right before a 24-month contract completion. T-Mobile, too, had been busy getting its house in order after AT&T came close to acquiring the carrier in 2011 and a new CEO was appointed in 2012.

“Moving from outbound communication to thinking about the personal touch and ‘who owns the customer and life-cycle event?’ can be tricky,” said Frost Keaton, a senior manager of enterprise at T-Mobile USA, during SAP’s annual user conference SapphireNow show Tuesday, which drew 20,000-plus to Orlando, Fla.

Two years ago, T-Mobile used a smattering of campaign management tools and had homegrown systems for sales and service, but no comprehensive CRM strategy, Keaton told AdExchanger. “CRM, for us, really meant campaign management, so we’ve been changing that so that CRM really means CRM,” he said.

It started by tweaking outbound marketing initiatives, but gradually that has shifted to a personalized “pull mentality.”

“We are dynamically altering content based on who you are and where you are in the life cycle,” Keaton said. “We were spending tens of thousands of dollars for our agencies to make changes on email (campaigns) but we wanted to have the ability to dynamically serve that up.”

When T-Mobile retooled its campaign-management technology, it essentially standardized on SAP’s “stack,” eliminating usage of six different (some of which were competing) marketing applications.

The company deployed SAP CRM, SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, real-time offer management and the SAP Audience Discovery and Targeting product. This tool, Keaton said, was a necessity because simple CRM did not allot for the high-volume segmentations the carrier needed to create.

T-Mobile is tackling the unstructured data problem by pulling that data into Hadoop and running high-speed analysis on the HANA in-memory database, which is allowing “us to get to unique segmentation [and] learn what data attributes we want to apply to marketing campaigns.”

T-Mobile also needed a digital asset manager, Keaton said of the growing importance of adaptable content and creative to the marketing organization. Using OpenText media management tools integrated with CRM, “our ad agencies can log in to the OpenText cloud platform and (gain access) to digital assets” that have been passed through approvals.

The asset library is then harnessed for campaign execution, “eliminating the need for people to keep track of things on Excel spreadsheets and allowing them to do deep searches off of metadata.”

Mobile, unsurprisingly, is a huge focus for T-Mobile moving forward in the year.

“Mobile apps as well as mobile Web will be a big push,” Keaton said. “We’re trying to create an omnichannel experience with our retail stores, too, and (tackle challenges like) tying someone’s Twitter handle back to their account and associate them with their cell phone.”

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