2013: Outlook for Technology and Marketing

2aed7c6This is a guest post by Ned Fasullo, consultant, President, and CEO at Fasullo Enterprises and VP of sales at Transformyx. Find him on LinkedIn.


As I look back at not just 2012, but the last three years, it’s easier now to define the chaos that has gripped the worlds of technology and marketing. These two distinctly different worlds are like two sides of a coin, completely opposite in their definition and operation, but completely dependent on one another for growth and success. Here’s why:

Marketing needs Technology.  The world of the marketing department has been utterly upended over the last five years. New titles for employees like Internet Sales Manager, Social Media Coordinator, etc. have become the norms as companies struggle to keep up with and understand the changing landscapes around them. Because of all of this Marketing is more dependent than ever in an up-to-date, stable and fast moving set of technology tools to get their jobs done and show forward motion and new sales opportunities for their efforts.  After all, the job of marketing is to stimulate the customer’s call to action and conversion into a new sale and new revenue.

Technology needs Marketing. The IT department has always struggled with its C-Level management as a misunderstood, yet required entity. C-Levels are only now beginning to get a better understanding of what IT does and what it needs to function for the organization. Marketing however knows all too well what a weak or ineffective IT department can mean to their overall success. IT departments have found an unlikely ally in their own Marketing teams as champions of the use of technology. And when Marketing is showing results, it’s easier for IT to get more of what they need.

1) It’s not coming, it’s here: A Return to Visual Marketing – In the last three years, most forms of traditional advertising (print, radio, TV) have consistently declined.  Internet spending was up but only a fraction of a percent.  What was up?  Actually what was REALLY up?  Digital Signage.  That’s right.  The United States is barely in the infancy of digital signage deployments and both digital indoor and digital outdoor saw increases in the recession of 14%!  Visual marketing is making a serious comeback as advertisers realize that more and more people are not only in transit than ever before, but places where people have to be are now open to the use of signage in their facilities.  More and more in 2013 you will be surrounded by content at the doctor’s office, the grocery store, the bank and even your child’s school.

2) Content must become Agnostic: The Era of “any screen” Begins – As in my previous article, 2012 was definitely the year of “anyscreen” as the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, slates, ultrabooks, and thin clients invaded the spaces of our personal and professional lives.  2013 will show more than ever that when you are going to deliver content, consumption by your target audience will be on not one, but more than likely multiple devices – at the same time.  Content creators, i.e. marketing departments, must be cognizant of the need to create agnostic content available anytime for any device.

3) RIP Page Views and Click Through’s: The Customer Engagement Era Begins – Here’s the biggest news flash of the decade.  No one really cares all that much about how many clicks your content is getting.  What matters now is, outside of advertising rate cards, are you engaging the customer?  In other words, what is your conversion rate? That’s the percentage of content viewers you have that you have been able to convert into real customers through some sort of call-to-action or “engagement”.  Organizations of all kinds are now faced with the challenge of how to differentiate content offerings to make this happen.  How’s your content looking for 2013?

4) RIP PC:  The Desktop Overhaul Begins – For those organizations still heavily invested in Windows XP, I have some good news and some bad news.  First, the good news.  Windows 7 is a really amazing new operating system that is everything Microsoft always promised us, which is good because their software still runs most of the world.  Now, for the bad news.  And for some, bad will mean, hefty costs.  Most Windows XP machines that are older than 3 years won’t support the new Windows 7 which means a wholesale upgrade in both hardware and software.  Now I know some of you will just say, “I’ll just hang on to them and run them till the wheels fall off!”, but that won’t work either because as of April 2014, Microsoft will no longer support XP at all, meaning that a slow and steady degradation of your machines will begin at the same time, costing thousands and potentially tens of thousands to those who don’t accept it and prepare to budget for it.

5) Unstructured Data:  The Decision on “Big Data” Must Be Made – Big Data is the big buzz word of the moment.  Essentially both individuals and companies have realized that “unstructured data” is growing at an out of control rate.  Digital cameras, smartphones, social media, iTunes and more have filled every crack and crevice on planet Earth with data.  And now this data has to be dealt with before it grows out of control.  For some organizations this can be a costly issue to deal with but luckily once dealt with, scalability is relatively easy over time.  Those who do not deal with it may find themselves in even more trouble in 2014 as their data is not only “big” but unrecoverable.

6) Open Networks, Open Minds:  The Acceptance of “BYOD” is Realized – It’s almost official.  Most professional organizations are no longer purchasing mobile devices and smartphones for their employees.  The expense can no longer be justified and as the “Great BlackBerry Death” showed us all, betting on one platform for all users is a losing proposition.  IT Departments are now openly embracing the Bring Your Own Device model as end users swarmed to the iPhone.  Now entering 2013, the remodeled Windows 8 and Android platforms are all openly welcomed as ways for organizations to cut expenses.

7) Playing by the Rules:  Compliance Can No Longer Be Ignored – The last few years has seen an increase in the amount of local, state and federal regulations concerning data and email communications.  Now even social media and instant messaging are under scrutiny.  FINRA, HIPAA and other eDiscovery issues are now mandate, not optional.  Legal, healthcare, education, industrial and more are all bound by these regulations and fines are hefty for non-compliance.  Time to tighten it up!

8) Digital Media Planning: Marketing Plans Are Now Extinct – Everything is digital at its genesis.  The days of the written marketing plan carefully hole punched and placed in the shiny new binder are over.  Sales, marketing and operational plans are all living documents now as companies are forced to pivot on short notice as market conditions change.  Particularly in the marketing department, you must now account for multiple traditional and online mediums for content delivery and messaging.

9) Share, Discuss, Shop:  Social Media Platforms Will Be Become Social Commerce Platforms – eCommerce (Web Commerce), mCommerce (Mobile Commerce) and now sCommerce (Social Commerce).  Pinterest has most recently shown the effectiveness of “see it, like it, buy it” mentality of today’s smartphone user.  Now Facebook is about to follow suit allowing page owners to sell directly from their pages and profiles.  With over 1 billion on Facebook, that makes for a lot of sales opportunities.

10) Everything is a Commodity:  Sales People Must Become Relationship Managers – Sales people aren’t just the mindless drones out on the streets bringing home the bacon any more.  With technology at their disposal, the best ones become their own brands, the faces of their organizations and the trusted advisors to their company’s client base.  People buy from people – pure and simple.  Establishing a trusted relationship is ten times more valuable than making a sale any day of the week.  As an individual brand name, a sales person has the opportunity to become an expert in his/her discipline and be a beacon of information to end users.  Companies must realize that their sales force is their offense and their defense.  They are the fuel in the engine that drives the company forward.  Hire good ones and give them the latitude to become great.  Hire the great ones and stay out of their way.

One can only imagine what 2014 will bring, but I can see the next five years bringing more and more interactivity and immersion into our lives. Until next time!