Adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) is moving along – bringing about speed, efficiency, reliability, and accuracy across all lines of business. Procurement organizations are converging people, business, and things in a digital network to satisfy ever-changing business needs, customer marketing strategyexpectations, and market dynamics. Manufacturing areas are monitoring the operational performance of their equipment with sensors. RFID is steadily altering the supply chain, tracking every item from the back room and back lot to the warehouse, shipping dock, and register. And even marketing and sales are getting into the action as benefactors of the large volumes of data generated by these devices and sensors.

Many businesses mistake this new, highly digital economy as an opportunity to improve operations, automate, and collect information. In fact, a recent Economist Intelligence Unit study revealed that nearly half of executives (47%) believe that business process automation is the greatest advantage derived from all of this hyperconnectivity.

However, the IoT is capable of enabling so much more – especially in marketing.

Digital economy: Flipping the power dynamics of the customer relationship

In a recent interview, Maggie Chan-Jones, chief marketing officer for SAP, observed, “The customer engagement model is very different now. It’s no longer about the business first then the customer. Rather, we need to start with the customer in mind first and then the business.”

How did this happen? Believe it or not, it’s the digital economy that is turning the customer relationship upside-down. But, this new reality shouldn’t be considered a burden. Seize it by embracing these four opportunities to engage with your customers.

  1. Co-innovate. Start with the customer experience and then walk back into the technology. The key here is to understand where consumers are coming from and how they make their decisions. In the end, it’s about the experience. The technology just happens to support it.
  1. Don’t just value word-of-mouth advocacy – nurture it. Most of the time, buying decisions are influenced by social media and word of mouth – even from people we’ve never met. Opening your eyes to all feedback – good, bad, and ugly – can help you identify which processes are broken, fix them, and prove your brand’s value with an eye on raising social media sentiment.
  1. Personalize through account-based marketing. Customers are no longer talking about choosing an offering because it’s mass produced and everyone “has one.” Instead, the conversation is steered towards how the product or service is made just for them. Thankfully, there’s plenty of data available that can provide insight into what customers want and need. However, all this information mean nothing if you cannot act on them in real time, But watch out: Automation by itself isn’t the answer. Everything – processes, people, and machines – must be connected to react to information the moment it enters the IT network.
  1. Understand the customer experience. Marketers are now expected to wear two hats at the same time – one of a scientist and the other of an artist. Tapping into the mindset of a scientist, marketers can analyze data to pinpoint opportunities to advance their agenda and engage with customers. The art lies in how you tell the brand story in a way that is engaging and consistent across all channels. Whether the customer is online, on the phone, or in a store, the story should always be consistent, enticing, and shareable.

Check out the video below to hear Maggie Chan-Jones’ perspective on the new role and expectations of the chief marketing officer in the digital economy.