Prediction Series 2019: Interview with Anthony R. Stephan, US Head at Deloitte Digital

TechBytes with Anthony R. Stephan, US Head at Deloitte Digital

Could you tell us about your role at Deloitte?

As the U.S. Head of Deloitte Digital and a Principal at Deloitte, I have the privilege to lead a business where creative, design, strategy, innovation and digital technology come together to help our clients create real value for their customers that ultimately elevates the human experience. When we engage with our clients and partners our focus is to build stronger connections with people, markets and ultimately drive growth.

What was the motive behind publishing 2020 Marketing Trends Report?

I think there are two primary drivers, and both come from a sense of responsibility. We are a global leader in the professional services business and we get to work with the best companies and people in the world, and these are the conversations our clients are having. It was important for us to have a voice and to create a platform for real conversations for the future of Marketing and Business overall.

Secondly, we did the hard work because we are all passionate about these trends and making an Impact that Matters, which is the overarching aspiration of our business. This trends report which will be part of our DNA annually is critical to us living our aspiration and holding ourselves to the same expectations that our clients and partners have.

If you want to take a purely statistical view of the why, just look at the fact that there are 26 billion smart devices in circulation, and 90 percent of the world’s data was produced in the last two years – we are living in a world of unprecedented change and we have to help reshape, rethink, and refocus the human experience with all that change.

In the report, you have mentioned the ‘Human Experience.’ How are these experiences different for consumers, and employees when we compare concepts of VoE (voice of the employee) versus VoC (voice of the customer)?

While digital technologies can make it easier for us to navigate through our busy lives, they can also erode the fundamental elements of human connection. AI and Automation have attempted to replicate human behavior – however the essentials of human connection, such as eye contact, personal touch, and empathy, remain irreplaceable. So when digital connections – personal and professional – lack a human touch, it can create an environment where people feel isolated, underrepresented and unfulfilled. Business leaders must recognize that, and act upon it.

Both customers and employees are humans first. We’re driven by dynamic wants, needs, and desires. As all things digital become even more omnipresent, the ability for brands to make personal, meaningful connections on a human level with both consumers and employees has never been greater.

From our previous work on human values, we found that no matter what your customers, workforce, and partners value, five tenets contribute to elevating the human experience:

    1. Being obsessed with all things human.
    2. Proactively delivering on human needs.
    3. Executing with humanity.
    4. Being authentic.
    5. Working to change the world.

When a business can identify these values and work toward building solutions that align with them, it can elevate the human experience.

Socio-economic and global environmental subjects are impacting brand-customer interactions. How did you study these impacts in your report?

Socio-economic and global environmental impacts are especially relevant in the first trend – purpose, which is paramount for brand loyalty, consistency and relevance in the lives of consumers. We found that more than 80 percent of consumers would be willing to pay more if a brand raised its prices to be more environmentally and socially responsible, or pay higher wages to its employees. Out of these responses, 15 percent said they would be willing to pay over 25 percent more for a brand’s items.

Purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow on average three times faster than their competitors, all the while achieving higher employee and customer satisfaction. As we approach 2020, brands will have to continue communicating their social and environmental values to drive customer loyalty and growth.

Could you tell us about the modern role of CMO and how it will evolve further in 2020? What kind of skills and practices are we looking at?

The role of the Chief Marketing Officer is evolving and has transformed faster than any other. Once the leader responsible for creativity and brand, today’s CMO has vast and complex responsibilities reaching far beyond traditional Marketing — now spanning technology, analytics, growth and, above all, measurable human impact. Here are some of the primary roles we see for modern CMOs:

  • Customer Champion – align the organization around customer-centricity. Utilize data insights and analytics to deliver superior, personalized human experiences and measurable business results
  • Growth Driver – play a leading role in creating and managing a plan to achieve sustainable, profitable growth
  • Chief Storyteller – act as both architect and steward of the brand by creating and telling brand stories and inviting consumers to participate in the narrative
  • Capability Builder – develop robust marketing capabilities (technology fluency, digital expertise, customer data and insights, data analytics) to help the organization compete in the future
  • Innovation Catalyst – Create breakthrough customer offerings and advance marketing by experimenting with new technology platforms, alternative media, new tools and techniques

This report in particular dives into the different trends that will impact CMOs –and other business leaders — in 2020, and the strategies they should implement to keep up with changing trends.

How does Deloitte CMO program guide Marketing professionals to acquire and apply those skills in challenging Marketing ecosystems?

About five years ago, we launched our CMO program, and, as part of that, we created a premier event at Deloitte University, our thoughtfully developed CMO academy. Here we offer a safe place for leadership development, and we take people on a journey where they get to think through priorities, capabilities and their own professional development. That’s an investment we will continue to make.

In addition, our 2020 Global Marketing Trends Report includes a “Cheat Sheet” for how business leaders can deliver on these seven key trends. These outline specific strategies for the entire organization, for CMOs in particular and for others in the C-Suite.

For every trend, a different set of skills and approaches is necessary. For example, to elevate the human experience, CEOs should evangelize the values of the organization across the ecosystem and help ensure they are adhered to. To help build trust within a brand, CMOs should develop a coherent customer journey that includes unified customer data and AI hierarchies. There is much more insight in the report itself, and we’d recommend every business leader focused on building a socially and human-conscious enterprise take a look!

Finally, what do you think about a CMO’s position in the adoption and promotion of a company as an AI-centric/AI-native organization? How does a CMO align this positioning to better sync with others in the C-suite?

On the surface, AI can feel really intimidating, can sound big, can sound complex… and it sometimes induces fear around what it could do instead of humans. Sometimes it helps to simplify and prioritize the importance of AI by framing it as “Augmented Intelligence” – the ability to use technology to accelerate the gathering of insights and advance how you use those insights to engage with your customers in a way that meets them at or above their expectations. The CMO now has a responsibility to adopt and understand technologies like AI and to engage with them in a way that adds a new level of actionable insights that enable elevated experiences.

Anthony R. Stephan is the US Head of Deloitte Digital for Deloitte Consulting LLP and the National Business Unit Leader for Customer and Marketing business. Anthony is passionate about the human experience as the foundation of how businesses create value and stronger connections with people, markets, and ultimately earnings.

Prior to leading the Deloitte Digital business, he served as the National Leader for the Technology Strategy and Transformation business. For more than 25 years, Anthony has guided businesses on the verge of transformation, leaning in with aspirations to inspire change, while driving balanced growth through strategic initiatives.

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