Everyone is talking about the importance of customer experience across the marketing landscape, and CMOs in the high-tech vertical seem to be feeling the most pressure. In high-tech, customer experience is fundamental, as it relates to the experience that a company’s products deliver to its users. But these days, customer experience must extend well beyond products to encompass every touchpoint along a customer’s path to purchase and beyond — and must do so in real-time.
High-tech CMOs are expected to make the total customer experience come alive, but the hurdles to these end-to-end experiences are significant. Most high-tech companies today operate in a far more complex environment than other verticals because they are global, multi-product and often cut across both B2B and B2C organizations. Furthermore, high-tech enterprises tend to be disproportionately affected by new data privacy laws, all while maintaining a faster pace of change than any other vertical on the planet.
In pursuing their current transformation agendas, high-tech CMOs are challenged by budget constraints, security risks, lack of resources and an explosion of tech vendor options, to name a few obstacles. But the solution to creating a great total customer experience is not about finding more money or choosing the right technology, but rather prioritizing initiatives for the greatest long-term gains and making the most out of what high-tech marketing departments already have. Let’s take a closer look at the current imperatives for marketers operating in the high-tech space today.
Total Customer Experience Requires Identity
Having a single identifier to recognize customers and prospects across the marketing and database spectrum is essential to remaining relevant in today’s fast-paced tech space. High-tech companies have a number of options for pursuing customer identity. Whether they choose to manage it in-house or through vendors, it is vital for CMOs to seek identity partners that are agile and are flexible of the high-tech industry. That means seeking global partners that have expertise across B2B and B2C businesses, a deep understanding of privacy laws and hybrid models that can accommodate the spectrum of outsourcing and in-housing preferences.
Injecting Flexibility Into Sourcing Strategies
Above all, high-tech CMOs must seek solutions that allow them to optimize links across their disparate data sets to create a layer of persistent IDs that can act as a strong connecting foundation for an end-to-end customer experience. That means simultaneously transforming a high-tech organization’s sourcing strategy to inject more flexibility and reactivity into this important process.
Due to the global, multi-faceted, multi-product nature of high-tech businesses, most organizations already engage in rationalization exercises that attempt to bring more consistency to their sourcing abilities. The next challenge is to find partners that can enable organizations to not just rationalize costs and operate globally, but that can also provide options and engagement models that help them transform in a flexible and modular way. After all, the only constant in the high-tech vertical is change. Partners to these companies must likewise be able to adapt constantly and show transformation progress, while simultaneously being able to ensure “business as usual” is getting done.
Today’s high-tech companies are built on foundations of innovation. Because they were the first movers in adopting comprehensive tech stacks, they face an even greater burden when it comes to transforming these stacks to enable a great total customer experience. As competition increases, high-tech CMOs must prioritize the rationalization of both costs and vendor lists. In doing so, they must set their sights on achieving not only scope and depth in their ability to understand customer identity but also the competence and flexibility to keep pace in a landscape where the pace of change continues to accelerate.
Sylvain Panzani is Merkle’s Growth Strategy and Operations Officer. Previously, he served as and SVP and Client Partner in the High Tech Vertical Group, focused on delivering value for a selected set of B2B and High Tech customers. He has extensive experience in both strategy consulting and operational marketing in multinational B2B and B2C corporations. Sylvain has served in multiple leadership and operational marketing roles in diverse areas such as Business Intelligence, Field Marketing, Marketing Operations, Campaigns and Programs, for both B2C and B2C. He is the former head of Marketing for France at Dell for Consumer and Small Business, and of European Marketing Operations for Dell.
Uday Nayar is the Vice President of Client Strategy at Merkle. He serves as the Americas strategy lead for Merkle’s Performance Media and CRM capabilities. Prior to joining Merkle, Nayar held positions in digital strategy and account management at large agencies like OgilvyOne and Digitas, where he led Fortune 500 client engagements across Technology, Financial Services, Insurance, and Retail industries. Nayar holds an Economics degree from the Delhi University, and an MBA from the Simon Graduate School of Business, University of Rochester.