I have always been fascinated by the interaction of technology, data and people. The people element especially. How can all three multiply creativity, long term business results and personal success? 

In a sales environments we have seen the account executive go from a re-active relationship builder to data reliant mobile challenger. There is a sales and buying process that provides the science. Follow that process well, but add art and creativity, and the results will be multiplied and success is guaranteed.

I have leant that if I hire the right people, give them the correct focus, align compensation with strategy and give them a great work environment – 80% of my work is done and the team will be creative do the best work of their lives.


The changing role of marketing

In the context of marketing and customer experience, the changing role of the CMO and the consumer is exhaustively written about. 68% of marketers say their company is increasingly competing on the basis of customer experience and the CMO has more data and a wider span of control than ever before.

The consumer is the catalyst as they become ever more disruptive in how they engage with brands. There is no doubt that technology alone can drive immense business return: improved customer service, predictive shopping recommendation, intelligent personalisation of messages – but what exponential lift can be obtained when the people and organisation element is firing too? That is what I want to explore.

A brand’s success is now reliant on how well they can adapt to new buying needs, and if speed is the new currency in business then agility becomes critical. This applies to both technology and people. This will be harder for some, especially with legacy silos that have been built to re-act to shifting channels and behaviours.


The new blue-print for marketing team structures

Marketing and ad tech environments are becoming more complex and therefore roles within the marketing organisation are too. As new roles emerge, forward-thinking organisations are arranging their teams aligned horizontally with the customer journey: awareness and acquisition, to on-boarding and engagement, to advocacy and retentions, as their organisational blueprint.

This sounds like common sense. Better than a vertical structure such as SEO team, content team, data team, email team, mobile team, app team and so on – but is there quantitative and qualitative data to support this is the right approach?

Over the following months I will interview a number of senior executives about how they are aligning their teams and changing their culture to prosper. I am keen to see how this can lead to long term success, as well as immediate short term returns.

There are two aspects I am looking to understand: organisational design and culture. This is what some of the world leading business are doing today to address this very issue:



Aldi is high growth and disruptive business widely recognised for winning many marketing awards. In interviews with their UK Marketing Director, Adam Zavalis talks very much about “marginal gains”. Competitive advantage is gained through collaboration across departments. Ensuring every team knows company strategy allows quick and agile decision making.



At ANZ, Maile Carnegie, Group Head of Digital Banking, puts the focus on culture as the biggest driver of change ( I agree!) Larger companies have often created a “frozen middle” that is uncomfortable with change and lacks deep skills required to adapt and innovate. To thaw this the executive leadership (including the CEO) need to show passion and energy in this change process. Motivating and inspiring employees is fundamental. “If you want good customer experience, you have to have good employee experience.”



Bugaboo is innovating and growing fast, but in order to grow faster and provide a better experience to their customers, their teams needed to get out of a silo mentality. Bugaboo's Chief Commercial officer, Mieke Veldhuis worked together with Salesforce to get out of the silo mentality both from a team and a technology perspective, to focus around the customer, with sales, service and marketing teams working together on a 360-degree profile of retail customers, distributors, and consumers.



Oreo’s very famous Super Bowl ad was possible because of agility. “You can still dunk in the dark” was approved in minutes and was purposely set up that way. It’s a great slogan but more has been perhaps written now on how this was an organisation triumph rather than the creative itself.



At Visa the CMO, Antonio Lucio, was also invited to also lead HR. So critical was the people aspect of the company to their success Visa wanted to ensure those they recruited were aligned with company strategy.


Zurich Insurance

At Zurich, the marketing teams implemented technology to transform how they created customer newsletters - they could create, test, and measure quickly and easily and distribute content in hours rather than weeks. A minor transformation, but it had a big impact on culture and creativity. For Russel Fisher, Head of Customer & Digital Strategy, the team no longer had to worry about the details, now their “only limit is our imagination.”


What does your future team look like?

These are just some examples of culture and organisational change and its crystal clear to me from this that agility, culture and strategy alignment are fundamental to success. 

I truly believe that the successful organisations that capture the magic of the digital age and age of the customer, are those that balance, blend and combine these ideas of culture and organisational excellence, alongside technology and strategy. I'm certainly seeing that in our work with some of the leading brands today when we discuss their digital marketing and customer experience transformations. 

This is what I will explore further in my next posts. I will now dig a little deeper and understand specifically what are leading brands doing to realise this new culture and what does the new organisational structure look like.

In the meantime, find out what is top-of-mind for 3,500 marketing leaders around the globe, in our fourth annual State of Marketing Report