Opening speech at DMIcon 2017

I was honored and humbled to serve as chairman of this DMICON conference (Digital Marketing Innovation Conference) on 29-30 Nov 2017.

I would like to thank Dato Terry Ong, President & CEO of Wealth Mastery Academy (WMA) and Deepak K. Menon, organizer of this conference, for this amazing opportunity.

I would like to share my opening speech for the conference:

Welcome to the Digital Marketing Innovation Conference DMICON 2017

This years’ DMICON emphasis will be on innovation, leadership and strategy – featuring top-notch key strategic thinkers representing the region’s biggest brands, influencers, industry disruptors, and business change agents from across all industries. DMICON shall explore innovative strategies, give away tactics and techniques – highlighting trends in Southeast Asia that enable you to immediately integrate into your digital marketing operations.

Marketing is undergoing a far-reaching revolution, driven in recent years by digital technologies and now by Artificial Intelligence as well.

Traditional marketing techniques no longer apply in today’s complex technological world: old-school rule-based segmentation, single touch-point marketing, marketing funnels and marketing personas are deprecated. It is time to accelerate change in our businesses. Digital marketers need to think differently from the past.

Leading players in digital marketing are engaging with customers in ways never before possible with a level of intimacy and interactivity never before seen. Digital marketing is not just about adding online channels to the brick & mortar ones or about supersizing the digital-marketing budget. Digital marketing is about deeply changing the way we do marketing in our businesses. To really benefit from digital marketing, most companies will require a fundamental change in their strategy, organization, culture, processes and systems, due to four major tectonic shifts:

First, marketing can now access massive amounts of real-time data from a myriad of systems, such as CRM, media, app usage, web traces, etc.). Old-school marketers have traditionally relied on indirect means such targeted market research to abstractly estimate the state of loosely defined segments. Now we can better understand where individual customers are in their decision journey, what they’re doing, when, where, and sometimes why. With this data, customers can be targeted individually and messages can be tailored to specific customers and their particular circumstances.

But this level of 1-to-1 marketing requires advanced technology. Having an integrated customer-data warehouse for many organizations can take years to implement. Deploying big and expensive technology infrastructure before people internalize the new way of working more often than not leads to failure. Instead, we need to prioritize and ask: what data do we really need? Launch a pilot on a limited scope with limited data and create an initial success story with the existing technology platform, in order to drive momentum in the organization.

Second, digital marketing is able to verify hypotheses and perform tests with a virtually immediate feedback loop. Old school marketing has traditionally been slow and feedback has generally been difficult to measure. Through digital marketing, marketers gain full transparency, over short feedback cycles, into the performance of virtually all marketing activities. Teams can compare returns across channels and advertising variants and shift budgets dynamically towards activities that deliver better against business objectives. Doing this in an exceptionally agile and experimental way is what we call growth hacking.

Third, marketing is moving toward lasting relationships with customers along personalized customer journeys and across multiple channels. Customer loyalty, repeat purchases, and brand advocacy represent the ultimate target of marketing. Digital channels now allow two-way relationships that can drive loyalty and advocacy over a customer’s lifetime and across touch points and channels.

But our organizations are not structured in customer journeys and do not usually have cross-functional and multi-disciplinary teams. Removing organizational silos to getting people to work together is a major challenge for digital marketing innovation. Additionally, the new era of marketing demands these cross-functional teams to have new skills, including advanced analytics, media design, software development and data management.

Fourth and last, human efforts in marketing are drastically reduced through Artificial Intelligence. For years, companies have focused on who to show advertisements to and when to show them. Artificial Intelligence now takes care of all this and paradoxically lets marketers focus on what makes marketing most human, and what really matters: empathizing with the customer and understanding what messages to show the audience so brands can create value to customers.

In a nutshell, digital and Artificial Intelligence aided marketing are ultimately about changing the way we, senior marketing and business leaders, understand our own job.

Disclaimer: Opinions in the article do not represent the ones endorsed by the author’s employer.


Hacking is the new marketing”, October 2014, David Edelman, McKinsey.
Mastering digital marketing” June 2014, David Edelman, McKinsey.
The digital marketing Revolution has only just begun”, March 2017, Marc Schuuring, BCG.
15 Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Marketing”, June 2017, Robert Allen

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