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Optimizing The Entire Marketing Ecosystem

How COVID-19 and digital transformation have changed the strategy landscape and what brands can do to prepare for the future

Well before COVID, new marketing technologies were proving to be indispensable tools for marketers. Emerging about twenty years ago, these digital ecosystems were very technology-centric, with the first generation of content management systems only supporting authoring and producing static assets. Commerce engines were simply components and frameworks that implementation teams would choose to match their technology stack and would often roll their own. Since then, digital ecosystems have progressed to become more platform-centric along with cloud capabilities. Monolithic in nature, most of these platforms serve all customer touchpoints and integrate with various back-end and third-party systems. In other words, these marketing ecosystems are likely a combination of isolated experience management, commerce and digital marketing technologies joined together through customer touchpoints, functional and data integrations and analytics, with teams endeavoring to make it all behave like a single organism.

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With more software platforms than ever for businesses to choose from, the market is primed for modern architecture solutions, particularly MACH—which stands for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native and Headless (MACH). An unconstrained architecture for enterprises, MACH enables a toolkit-based approach that can result in best-of-breed, open-sourced technology ecosystems taking customers to a radically new level of experience that blows them away. When harnessing the power of the cloud and headless technologies, companies can innovate and bring more exciting digital customer experiences to life faster. From a marketing standpoint, MACH is a natural next step in the evolution of digital technology, taking it full circle from technology-centric to platform-centric and back to technology-centric—but on a whole new level.

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According to the recent and first of its kind MACH Alliance’s Survey and Report, MACH as a solution is a key driver for innovation in the way businesses respond to fast-paced change in customer and end-user expectations. The report saw 81% of respondents express strong interest to further implement and increase MACH elements in their businesses, with C-level executives leading the charge for wider adoption.

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For brands like Dawn Foods, this resulted in a complete evolution of new e-commerce solutions powered by MACH. What started as a donut shop 100-years ago, today is a pioneer in its industry. Dawn Foods implemented headless architecture and a suite of APIs, which released the company from the rigid constraints of traditional commerce platforms. Before the migration, Dawn Foods handled all their orders in person and via phone. The stark shift allowed the company to roll out modernized experiences for their customers quickly and efficiently. The new ordering system allowed customers access to their extensive product catalog and the ability to order with ease and security. MACH solutions empowered the Dawn Foods team with enhanced agility to nurture an environment for the company to connect with its consumers. Through the implementation of six major releases within six months of the solution being active, Dawn Foods was able to harness consumer usage data to better customize and reflect preferences throughout the end-to-end experience.

For those who had or have not yet embraced a complete digital transformation and taken advantage of emerging MarTech trends and tools, COVID has undoubtedly been a major catalyst. One that has forced many to rethink every aspect of their marketing strategies in order to enhance team collaboration, develop digital marketing campaigns and optimize multi-channel impact across the marketing ecosystem.

It’s highly probable that all complex digital ecosystems will eventually go through this transformation. Consider the changing retail landscape. It is an intrinsically social business, but retailers are now faced with examining the next normal, and they’ll need to pay particular attention to their platform strategy. Non-essential retailers that succeeded during lockdown did so primarily because of their virtual presence, eCommerce platforms and strong balance sheets. But, what will this look like in the postCOVID-19 world?

Moving forward, retailers will have to evaluate many factors, including platform usage and how much should be invested in their online presence, as well as answer critical questions: How many “stores” worth of sales and business did their online presence generate during lockdown? How will digital fulfillment and operations be supported and expanded after COVID-19? Then there is thein-store digital experience to consider, such as touch-kiosks, virtual dressing rooms, interactive maps and payment systems. There are also many diverse aspects of operational processes, such as inventory and workforce management and cybersecurity. Finally, retailers must determine whether their technology platforms and analytics are working to their benefit during and after the COVID-19 era. If not, they will need a platform that provides a competitive advantage if they want to stay in the game.

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Today, marketing is as much about brand reputation as it is about driving revenue. By maximizing digital operations with MarTech solutions, businessescan survive and thrive even under the most challenging circumstances. Given the unpredictability of the world we now live in, the earlier they start, the sooner they will be over the humpand in a position to deliver truly novel experiences that amaze and delight customers beyond their wildest imagination.

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