On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here.
As the head of strategy at Episerver, and the CMO I essentially wear two hats. I’m responsible for our product strategy and product management as well as our go-to-market approaches and marketing organization. I came to Episerver early in 2015, as part of a new management team to help grow the company from ostensibly northern European roots into a global organization.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
I’m amazed by all of the disruptive and innovative new tech that’s available for marketers today. But therein lies the problem. Marketers are not just overburdened with demands from the business but more often than not overwhelmed by the sheer amount of technology claiming to help them. I don’t see that slowing down, but I do see the need for more intelligent solutions that can work on the marketers behalf, freeing them up to focus on more strategic differentiation.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Right now it has to be artificial intelligence (AI). Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect between the hype and the tools that are being used today, but the truth is there’s some strong use cases out there already. AI may be the zeitgeist, but I like to say that sometimes we forget that the analytic power of the computer was designed to get things done faster, not make more work for us, and AI is doing just that for marketers.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
I may be the CMO of a software company, but my team’s challenge is no different to any other business, and that’s how to achieve continuous and consistent one-to-one engagement with the customer.
Today’s marketers are responsible for everything from digital marketing, website merchandising, content creation and email, to online commerce, brand, and social. They need to respond to emerging trends on the fly, course correct in real-time, and interact with customers in a consistent, relevant, and timely way – and in every channel – and they need to do it fast – because today we all have micro-attention spans and switch our brand loyalty without even thinking twice.
Yet, you can’t just throw technology at the problem. You need to get the processes in place first and you need to understand the customer and their journey before you can optimize their experience with your organization.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Of course, since content is at the heart of what we do, we make broad use of our own CMS, the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud, but we also make use of Marketo, Microsoft Office 365 CRM, Kissmetrics, and Google Analytics. Then of course we’re active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for social retargeting.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
Named after Amelia Earhart’s 1929 international organisation of women pilots, we created the ‘Digital Ninety-Nines’ project to set out to honour and observe the achievements of women in marketing and technology around the world.
The Digital Ninety-Nines initiative includes a series of different interviews and input from high profile women across Amaze, Microsoft, IBM and Provasi Capital, discussing their role and their achievements from their career. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we were keen to raise awareness of the role that women can play in digital marketing and IT sectors by speaking to the successful women who are already championing those industries.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
You embrace it. Marketing today is as much about data science as it is creative approaches. We’re living in an exciting time for our still young discipline, it’s changing fast and is a fantastic place to build a career. For me, it’s a fundamentally different, and I feel a more effective approach to putting analytics to work in your organization. You shouldn’t have to do all the work, quite simply because you just don’t have the time. So now you can put the machine to work for you. For me, AI is the ideal marriage of man and machine.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
For me it’s Outlook and PowerPoint. I have a black belt in PowerPoint.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Picking up the phone.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I’m reading The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End by Robert Gerwarth. I pretty much only read non-fiction military history these days, and I like to do it old school with an actual book. I get most of my news from the BBC online, where the facts are never “alternative,” and from Google Alerts.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Work hard, be humble, good things will come.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I’m not sure I can claim to do anything better than others but I do like to lead by example and with passion. You have to believe in what you are doing, your mission, and when people sense that it’s infectious.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
My good friend and colleague R Ray Wang.
MTS: Thank you James! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
James is an accomplished senior level executive with a proven record in product strategy, sales and marketing, M&A, personnel and budget management. Creative individual with detailed industry knowledge, ability to craft vision and strategy, and drive product delivery and revenue success. Outgoing consensus builder who can communicate effectively at all levels. Entrepreneurial with real sense of urgency.
Episerver connects digital commerce and digital marketing to help organizations create unique digital experiences for their customers, with measurable business results.
The Episerver Digital Experience Cloud™ combines content, commerce and multi-channel marketing in a single platform to work full-circle for businesses online – from intelligent optimisation and lead-generation through to conversion and repeat business – with unprecedented ease-of-use.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.