Martin Häring Interview
Paula- Tell me about your role and the work you are doing at Finastra.
Martin- So I am the CMO at Finastra. We are in the financial software industry, the third largest Fintech in the world with approximately 10,000 employees and presence in 130 countries with probably the broadest spectrum of financial software in the world serving banks from Tier 1 to Tier 6, community banks and credit unions.
Overall, we have a customer base of around 9,000 banks worldwide in a market which has around 15,000 banks total. So we are covering around 95 of the top 100 banks and therefore, we have a footprint in most of the global banks around the world.
Paula- Why does traditional marketing as we know it today need to change?
Martin- I would say that in the last 20 years, marketing was mainly around the return of marketing investment which was measured in the way you create awareness and leads and turn them into opportunities. Even today for a lot of CFOs, when they talk to the CMOs they want to see that specific return on investment measured on pure opportunity creation. There is also a certain branding element in areas which can’t be measured immediately in revenue generation, but I think this is the old fashioned way to look at the marketing department in terms of ROMI, purely measured by the creation of new opportunities.
And I think in the world of tomorrow, the brand of companies is fading away more and more because the brand is not identifiable as much, for example in banking, but more by the customer experience that the brand delivers to their end clients. So the notion of customer experience will be the dominating factor going forward determine why people buy from you and therefore, I think there will be a huge focus coming to the CMOs to measure their impact on that rather than demand generation.
Customer experience is a leading trend indicator for future business; if customers are happy, they buy more. If you create the right experience in the acquisition phase or the early stages, they will buy. For me, it is the most crucial measurement going forward rather than the old marketing models.
In a world were more and more things are dematerialised, think about the way that warehouses or retail shops have faded away and been replaced by Amazon. Taxis are replaced by Uber platform. The hotel business is replaced by AirBnB. The banks to be honest are replaced by online banking applications.
So the companies themselves are dematerialised and what is left is the digital experience that they will provide to end consumers. And it’s the digital experience and the customer experience that will decide whether you use AirBnB or another startup in that area which might give you a different digital experience that you prefer. So that notion of customer experience in a world which is more and more virtualised is even more important.
Paula- What roles will technologies such as AI and ML play in transforming businesses to make them more customer centric?
Martin- Well these technologies will likely not replace the human factor, but AI will drive really transformative change in marketing to a better customer experience. So you can have things like Intelligent Lead Scoring, Chatbots, virtual branch agents and the fact that you can drive predictive analytics out of your data, dynamic pricing etc.
Amazon for example allows you to log in with a Macbook and prices are higher than logging in with a Dell laptop, or the price is better from a mobile app than a desktop, all driven by Smart analytical engines in the background. Also the notion of real time personalisation; you are more persona driven and you create content on the fly for certain sets of personas that are popping up on your website.
So the whole end to end marketing automation can be more and more driven by AI or process automation algorithms.
Paula- How are organisations using AI today to improve their marketing practices?
Martin- One of the things you see right now is Chatbots. Chatbots are getting smarter and can replace human-customer interaction in up to 80% of services. They could replace teleagents in the background to handle simple queries. Branch agents like banks are introducing human avatars where when you log into the website, you see an almost human face that can talk to you in natural language and replace physical agents.
Also in the background the whole automation of marketing processes; you stimulate E-generation, you create content which needs to be personalised and sent via email distribution management system, then you funnel the results into a CRM system. All of these various steps can be smartly handled and completely automated in the background.
And companies are more and more specialised on automating this kind of process. A lot of the big companies like Marketo and Salesforce are moving more into the space of AI to replace the human interaction on all these steps, because in today’s marketing world there are still a lot of silos and tools disconnected and data disjointed and I think AI will be the smart connectivity between all these marketing tools and silos.
Paula- Will the human role become redundant in an AI driven world? Will we see AI solutions augment in a marketing role in the future?
Martin- I firmly believe there are certain jobs where almost 100% of work can be replaced by smart AI in areas like customer experience. I think these roles where you have a highly automated routine in responding to a customer request could definitely be replaced by Chatbots. And in certain areas such as dynamic pricing, it is already 100% automated.
However in some areas, it is more the augmentation of the human rather than the full replacement. One thing we have to have in mind is that AI is not perfect. It is only as perfect as the human that has programmed that algorithm. So there are always possible errors which need to be screened by humans, especially in sensitive mission critical applications in areas like healthcare with cancer screenings.
Paula- What role will the CMO play in driving the AI strategy?
Martin- Being slightly provocative, I think in 10 years time the title of CMO may have disappeared and be replaced by a conglomerate of Chief Data Officer and Chief Customer Experience Officer. I think these are two areas where you need to be highly tech savvy, very data driven and customer obsessed and this is what I think the CMO role will morph into.
Therefore, you need to preparing yourself for the data centric world of tomorrow where you have tonnes of data and you need to convert it into insights and actions to improve the customer experience and worrying less about the brand building. That is the future of the CMO. I’m not sure what the new title will be, but it is a merging of those two elements.
Paula- And what advice would you give businesses who are starting their AI journey?
Martin- All the AI needs one basic element and that is data. If you don’t have a data strategy in your company and don’t build a cross-functional data warehouse, you can’t adopt any kind of AI or Robotics process. Data is the new oil and you need to have a strategy from the top, otherwise you have data silos and across silos you can’t create the intelligence that you want.
The second thing is you use AI internally first to deliver better customer insight and for the customer I would say ‘what is the next best action with this prospect/customer?’ Externally, I would focus on delivering the best in class customer experience with virtual branch agents, chatbots and onboarding tools.
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