Why mobile is the remote control of our lives (and other marketing lessons from MIT)

What does the digital transformation of a traditional company like a bank mean for marketing? After all, marketing is not a core banking platform. It’s not payments or lending facing the threat of Bitcoin or peer-to-peer lending.

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But marketing is undergoing its own digital upheaval and having just spent time at the MIT Sloan School of Management in Boston, the exciting – and terrifying – implications are very clear. 

" The key to transforming a traditional company into a 21st-century digital one is its leaders …we need to just get cracking."
Carolyn Bendall, ANZ Australia’s Head of Marketing

The key to transforming a traditional company into a 21st-Century digital one is its leaders (that's us – there are no others). We need to just get cracking as it almost doesn't matter where you start - people and culture are what makes the difference in digital success. The only bad part of failure is not learning from it.

And, overwhelmingly, if you think things are moving fast now, the pace that we have today will be the slowest that we experience from here on!

For marketing, there are some particular insights and challenges, ones I intend to immediately get cracking on in my role:

Mobile is the remote control of peoples' lives. I've now heard this phrase at Google, MIT and from Spanish Bank BBVA and I think it perfectly captures the primary and integral role mobile plays in every moment of our lives.

The lesson for marketing is we need to apply mobile-first thinking well beyond how we go to market in a creative and media sense. We must bring mobile-first right back to the strategic level with the propositions and solutions we are building, the customer experience we are designing and how we are listening and extracting consumer insights.

Amplify the voice of the customer within the business. A digital 21st-Century business is by definition one centred on the customer and user experience. This means the voice of the customer must be omnipresent throughout the company.

To me there's no better function to amplify the voice of the customer than marketing.  At ANZ, we are constantly researching, listening, harvesting insights, monitoring Net Promoter Scores and customer satisfaction.

We run a 25,000 strong customer research panel, we manage the communities on our social media platforms, we by profession are curious about what drives consumer behaviour. Marketing needs to harness and amplify this voice throughout the company.

Bring together a diversity of eyes to avert blindness caused by inattentiveness. The answer to this blindness is to put groups of people together who aren't focused on the same things.

Such blindness occurs when you are too focused and miss what's going on in the periphery (remember the viral invisible gorilla clip?) To lead transformational change you need to lift the gaze and be more attuned to what's going on across the business.

As a marketing leader my focus is naturally on marketing and I'm often deep in detail. This no doubt means I'm not seeing all I should see and need to change if we want to continue to evolve. 

Agile is a great catalyser. Forming cross-functional teams who are focused on a mission and empowered to make decisions is a great way to change the culture and transform traditional, often linear processes. 

I've seen this first hand with the agile team ANZ put together to develop and bring Apple Pay to the Australian market.  It was a phenomenal success and our people loved working on it.

Enable the crown jewels. Understand what it is you want your customers to see you for - what makes you distinctive?  Have you digitally enabled these ‘crown jewels’ first and foremost?

Whatever the category, it's becoming more about the experience than the product these days. For marketing, we need to be customer-experience led in both what we design and how we take it to market.

By way of a live use case, we are committed at ANZ to respond to the key life events of our customers with solutions which cover all their needs.

Digital distinction is a fallacy. To some extent I feel digital marketing is a bit like the emperor’s new clothes. The distinction between digital and traditional marketing barely exists today.

We all live and operate in a digitised world - from the customer journeys we are mapping, the digitally driven propositions we are developing, through to the so-called traditional media channels mostly delivered digitally (out of home, audio/visual content, social, in store) - it's all digital marketing.

The important thing is to continuously evolve entire marketing ecosystems so people feel a part of the strategy, are empowered, can move with speed and agility and are relentlessly pursuing that amazing customer experience.

At the end of the day what's clear is digital transformation is actually all about people and the inescapable need for great leadership to harness that power. It’s incredibly exciting and a little bit terrifying. To share a final quote: "The hard stuff is easy, it's the soft stuff that's hard". You bet.

Carolyn Bendall is ANZ Australia’s Head of Marketing.

As part of the trip, Carolyn participated in a course run by MIT. The course, held in Boston, was co-created by ANZ to equip businesses for the rise of the digital era. It is tailored around ANZ’s shift towards a more digital banking environment.

Carolyn would like to thank Dr Peter Weill and his colleagues at MIT who shared their expertise and time so generously.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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