Conference Updates

September 2, 2021

Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo Americas: Day 3 Highlights

We are bringing you news and highlights from Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, taking place this week virtually in the Americas. Below is a collection of the key announcements and insights coming out of the conference.

On Day 3 from the conference, we are highlighting sessions on marketing hybrid events, marketing organizational design and the future of machine customers. Be sure to check this page throughout the day for updates.

Key Announcements

How Data and Analytics Explained the Pandemic and Lessons for Marketers Making Sense of a New World

Presented by Anna Maria Virzi, Principal Analyst, Gartner

Marketing leaders have different reasons, such as poor data quality, for not using analytics to inform decisions. In this session, Anna Maria Virzi, Principal Analyst at Gartner, shared common data and analytics issues that surfaced during the pandemic and provided lessons for marketers who struggle with communicating insights to ensure they effectively use and share data for decision making.

Key Takeaways

  • “A Gartner survey of marketing analytics practitioners found that analytics influenced only 54% of marketing decisions, exposing that analytics are not living up to senior marketers’ expectations.”
  • “Before visualizing data, marketing operations leaders must think critically about how they will source, model, and manipulate data.”

  • “Manipulating data refers to the organization and storage of data, including the cleanup of databases. This is not about manipulating data to get the outcomes we want.”

  • “The Johns Hopkins University COVID dashboard, which became the true north for obtaining information about the global pandemic, is a standout example of data wrangling under extreme conditions.”

  • “When visualizing data, marketers need to ensure that their data visualizations are credible, provide context, and support decision making.”

  • As a data-driven marketer, you need to understand what types of decisions that audiences expect to make based on a given data.”

Designing the Always-On Marketing Machine

Presented by Michael McCune, Senior Director, Advisory, Gartner

Marketing aims to impact customer lifetime value with a continuous next best action strategy, but it has yet to adjust its organizational design principles. In this session, Michael McCune, Senior Director at Gartner, shared the practical constraints of a high-fixed cost marketing machine and how to design an always-on marketing machine for future efficiency and efficacy.

Key Takeaways

  • “Often constraints to transformation are portrayed as obstacles that others put in marketing’s way. However, it’s actually marketing that presents the biggest obstacle to its transformation ambitions.”
  • “Over the last half-decade, marketing has tried to fund transformation with flat budgets.”

  • “Marketing operations is an investment in change management. It’s not a side job of others running their own self functions across marketing.”

  • “Lacking a clear strategy about how you’re going to drive continuous improvements will cast doubts on your ability to realize your business case for transformation.”

  • “The four components of the always-on marketing machine are audience prioritization, automation orchestration, content rendering, and channel distribution.”

When Things Become Customers: Get Ready for Earth’s Ultimate Emerging Market

Presented by Don Scheibenreif, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner

As the number and capability of machine customers grow, organizations will be forced to reconsider what a customer is, and how they will engage them for business growth. In this session, Don Scheibenreif, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner, shared the potential of this emerging trend and what marketing leaders can do to take advantage of it.

Key Takeaways

  • “Today there are more machines with the potential to act as customers than humans on the planet. Companies that learn how to market and sell to them will win big.”
  • “A machine customer is a nonhuman economic actor that obtains goods or services in exchange for payment.”

  • “By 2022, 70% of customer interactions will involve emerging technologies such as machine learning applications, chatbots and mobile messaging, up from 15% in 2019.”

  • “If emotion plays a vital role in the purchasing decision, selling to a machine customer will not be easy as machines don’t have emotions.”

  • “For machine customers, it’s less about human emotion and more about information and speed.”

  • The one thing that you could do today to prepare for a world of machine customers is to become exceptional at digital commerce by adding machines and human-machine customer journeys to the mix.”

The Future of Events: Mastering the Pivot

Presented by Kristina LaRocca-Cerrone, Director, Advisory at Gartner, and Nicole Greene, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner

Marketing events have evolved to become an integral part of a multi-channel strategy. In this session, Kristina LaRocca-Cerrone, Director, Advisory at Gartner, and Nicole Greene, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner, discussed how marketers must involve cross-functional teams of events, sales, product, IT and more in order to best deliver dynamic experiences today.

Key Takeaways

  • “Even with the disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 8.4% of marketing budgets are still allocated for events.” 

  • “By 2023, 60% of businesses that pivoted to virtual events will incorporate physical, real-time or real-space experiential elements.” 

  • “With hybrid events, marketers must establish a new social contract - highlighting the value of the event, outlining participation norms, the use of technology, intro and in-session materials, and following up with detailed next-steps.

  • “Marketers must set their sights higher on creating and delivering resonate, salient experiences that connect customers to their brand. In fact, 61% of CMOs have already shifted resources to build customer-facing digital interfaces.” 

  • “There are five strategic elements of a virtual, hybrid and in-person event mix that marketers must keep in mind - objectives, target personas, cost, agile plans and success metrics.”

All AI Is Not the Same: What Marketing Leaders Should Know About Deep Learning

Presented by Jason McNellis, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner

Deep learning has grown in popularity faster than any other machine learning method in the last 50 years, yet most marketers don't have “implement deep learning” on their roadmaps. In this session, Jason McNellis, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner, explained how brands can differentiate through advanced analytics or machine generated content.

Key Takeaways

  • “Deep learning is a family of distinct, but related, methods that allow us to tackle different marketing challenges. This diversity has contributed to tremendous growth in popularity and hype for deep learning. 

  • “Deep learning is a marketer’s most powerful way to extract insights from unstructured data and use AI to generate new content.”

  • “Access to more data and more compute is especially important for deep learning as the larger and more powerful networks require more training data.”

  • “The human element in deep learning is critical, because when deep learning misses the mark without human definitions and edits, it misses big.” 

  • “Testing is also essential with generative AI and any form of machine learning to demonstrate the value, but also to ensure there are no unexpected consequences.”

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