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Building an adaptive marketing organization with the right combination of process optimization and suitable IT platform


Adaptive. It’s an adjective that’s increasingly applied to marketing, as in the ‘adaptive marketing organization’. The Cambridge Dictionary definition of adaptive is “having the ability to change to suit changing conditions”. Thus, the adaptive marketing organization is one that can flex with new demands (a brand launch or new product) and new modes of engagement (mobile, omni-channel, etc,) or perhaps changing regulatory requirements (e.g. new consent-based marketing approaches).

CMOs in general recognize this need to be adaptive and are actively transforming ways of working to bring it about. For example, I have previously written about the need to break down functional silos within the business so that the likes of campaign planning, content, branding, service, sales, and IT all work together with one purpose before vanishing again once they’ve achieved it. In fact, this cross functional collaboration is a key characteristic of the adaptive marketing organization, where individuals can flexibly take on new tasks in other cross-functional teams once they’ve helped achieve the purpose.

Changing people’s approaches and breaking down silos, however, is just the start. The only way to realize the full effects of an adaptive marketing organization is with a suitable IT platform that allows frictionless collaboration. It should cater to task/resource allocation and decision-making, while empowering cross-functional teams with access to relevant data and information that can then be documented within the platform, like a marketing system of record.

Avoiding the wrong digital trap

A common mistake that must be avoided in enabling the adaptive marketing organization is to simply take existing processes and digitize them for your new platform. That’s the wrong way round. You first need to look closely at your marketing organization and processes and optimize them where possible along the entire customer journey. For example, define how digital marketing activities tie into classical campaigning and vice versa, or really re-imagine how different channels should interact and leverage each other. And don’t forget the ‘simple’ things, of course, like re-thinking the interaction between (product) innovation, sales, service, and marketing. Then you can build your platform around processes that really work for your organization.

Looking in more detail at how the platform can enable an adaptive organization, let’s take resource management as an example. The platform should provide a connected view of skillsets/capabilities and their availability to make it possible (and easy) to allocate the right experts, people and partners to projects as they arise, ensuring there is no overbooking of resources. The CMO and team leaders should be able to use the central platform to strategically plan the capabilities needed for the future, whether that’s their own capabilities or their partners, such as an external agency. With the right platform and optimized processes, collaboration becomes seamless and intuitive, with no frustrating disconnects between analog and digital interfaces or lengthy access rights and approval discussions.

Familiar tech accelerates user adoption

No matter how well you sell the concept of cross-functional working to your teams, if it involves swapping the technology they’re used to with something new, the task becomes harder for the CMO and team leaders. Rather than replacing existing systems, how about adding a layer that seamlessly connects them with your new platform? Teams won’t have to spend time searching for and familiarizing themselves with new tools to become productive because they can simply carry on using their existing ones. This still needs change management support, upskilling and a mindset shift but ties much more naturally into current way-of-working.

That’s why the acquisition of Workfront by Adobe earlier this year is an exciting moment in the adaptive marketing story and is something we always knew was needed. With Workfront, marketing and creative teams can continue to work with the tools they’re familiar with because the tailored organization model platform connects them all and provides access to data and information documented in the platform as the marketing system of record. It adds a coherent workflow layer that allows collaboration, tracking and decision-making, while making resource management possible with one source of truth.

Technology like Workfront from Adobe offers exciting potential for accelerating the transformation of marketing into an adaptive marketing organization. Cross-functional teams have a tool that helps them handle the speed at which change comes at them, whether driven by market developments or strategic intent. By using a digital platform that connects all the dots across a landscape of optimized processes, the adaptive marketing organization is a true enabler of business success.

Get in touch

Want to find out more about Capgemini’s approach to building an adaptive marketing organization, please get in touch.

Markus Cramer, Senior Director Innovation & Strategy.