In A World Where Mobile Devices Can Smell, Architecture Matters More

In an effort get ahead of the curve, I’ve been looking at the strategic advice that Forrester’s Marketing and Strategy (M&S) analysts are giving to their clients in marketing roles. This is in the hopes that we can help EA practices better communicate, plan, and align to what their marketing leaders are thinking – but aren’t necessarily communicating.

What I’m finding is that your marketing team is strategizing for an odd future: An era of precognition, driven by an undeniable and powerful consumer trend: The emerging base of consumers value relevancy over privacy. They’re willing to trade privacy for new services – and their inventory of sellable secrets grows while their avenues for selling them become wider. If you’ve guessed this has something to do with mobility, you’re right. What I’m finding our M&S analysts recommending is not only interesting (and in some ways terrifying), but could have an overwhelmingly positive impact on an EA practice’s value to the organization, bringing it closer to tangible revenue contribution. But only EA practices ready to accept this new mission will see this benefit.

Translating the guidance from Forrester’s M&S analysts, there are five things that EA leaders must think about if they are to enable this future:

  1. The entire EA practice must get acquainted with the concept of “context.” From a mobile marketer’s perspective you’re an “always addressable” consumer – there’s always a way we can reach you – anywhere. But it doesn’t matter if we can’t tie in how you experience our marketing with your current situational environment – it’s the context that matters the most. Can we predict what you might want . . . right this very instant? Well, yeah, we actually can, because . . .
  2. Mobile device hardware features will hand us even more contextually relevant information. Marketers are thinking ahead to whether chemical sensors can be used to analyze your perfume and make suggestions that you might like, can afford, and is “on sale with this mobile coupon just a few steps away, for the next 10 minutes only." Just think about all of the new types of information we will be able to use. It would be smart to strategize around that at least a little bit, but . . .
  3. The experimentation has already begun – without you. The truth is that marketers are already trying some of these things, leveraging the expertise from a variety of niche partners. But the fragmentation of data and technology this has caused is nearing the line where these niche players’ strategies (or lack thereof) will fall short. Plus, something vague about big data is happening here, so what we’ve got to do next is inevitable . . .
  4. The fragmented world of agencies and partners are about to fall on your lap. Our M&S analysts are telling their marketing leaders to prepare to bring the technology and the work home. Are your marketing leaders communicating the same? Is your current stack prepared to safely, securely, consistently, and most of all – quickly – create this “context” that marketers are after? Answers to these questions are on the horizon, if you know how to ask them. But when you do . . .
  5. Be nice when you say, “I told you so!” Marketers were right to go around IT for their initial forays into contextual mobile marketing. Digital disruptors build businesses on information strategy, and steal your customers’ eyes away with useful free apps, so they had to act fast to keep customers focused on their brand. Your marketing leaders are getting stuck on these challenges, and they need information and technology strategies to dig them out – and that’s not their area of expertise, or what they may know to ask for.

This is an emerging area of research for us that we need to pace with our clients to make sure we aren’t running too far ahead or just a beat behind what is actionable and relevant. And it has huge implications for how architects design processes and technologies, leverage emerging tech, and develop information and technology strategies. So I ask you: As architecture leaders, how are you helping your marketing leaders address these trends? Does today’s approach go far enough? What information are your marketing leaders not telling you that you need to know? Who are the digital disruptors they’re worried about? How should we get involved with mobile architecture and technology providers today to avoid catastrophe tomorrow?