In partnership with The CMO Club, The CMO of the Week series profiles CMOs who are shaping, changing and challenging the world of modern marketing. For Neisser's complete interview with CMO Award Winner Becher, click here.
A multinational enterprise solutions company, SAP's products and services are constantly evolving by necessity and resoluteness. To keep pace with business operations as well as the latest trends in big data, SAP's marketing team must also break fresh ground.
"For all good business leaders, there comes a day when you realize: 'What got us here, won't get us where we need to go,'" says Jonathan Becher, SAP's longtime CMO (and now their Chief Digital Officer). Becher is a man who takes innovation seriously, not just as a tool for 15 minutes of fame, but as something that needs to be cultivated. Here are some of the insights Becher has gleaned on how even global corporations should continue to expand their horizons.
As a company that lives in the information sector, SAP is well aware that consumer behavior has changed and, along with it, the businesses must craft conversations. "We all know that the way customers consume information, products, and services has completely changed," Becher says. "It follows that the way we need to engage with customers must also change."
Many companies have noticed that change is on its way; however, Becher differentiates himself and his team by dismissing slow implementation. "Incremental changes will not be sufficient," he says. "We need to innovate the discipline of marketing."
He experimented at first by forming a group called Innovation Marketing, which acted as a think tank for new ideas and methods of marketing and communication. However, he soon found that the group was too isolationist and actually made others more resistant to change. The group was disbanded and Becher instead began focusing on creating a "culture of innovation" as opposed to delegating innovation to any singular group.
"Now we highlight efforts throughout marketing that push boundaries and embrace change, even ones that are not completely successful," Becher says. "In some sense, we're reinforcing our corporate motto of 'Run Better'-the quest for relentless improvement."
ROI-Return on Innovation
The tricky part of any marketing campaign is finding accurate metrics to determine what works and what doesn't. "Innovation is an investment, so you need ROI for it as well. Return on innovation," Becher says.
Becher is fortunate in that SAP is a company with a lot of digital know-how; as a business that lives and breathes big data, Becher and his team are equipped with a dashboard that enables real-time tracking and monitoring.
"We try to run marketing like a business, which means that we need to be able to prioritize between all of our initiatives. From an analytics point of view, we distinguish between the macro view (crunching data on a scale unheard of a few years ago) and the micro view (data equivalent of a focus group)," Becher explains.
Becher and his team convert their analytics-based insights into actionable plans, particularly on the micro level, which deals directly with customers. "At the micro level, we're constantly trying to optimize each interaction with our customers," Becher says. "This level of customer-centric targeting, along with a test-learn culture, allows us to measure the effectiveness of everything we do and maximize ROI at the micro level."
A More Human Approach
All the talk of marketing innovation and ROI might seem cold, but Becher says that that's not the case. By gathering data and constantly tweaking their process, they create an even better customer experience for users of SAP's products and services.
"While marketing doesn't own all the customer experience channels, it can help make the experience consistent," Becher says. "Now, we're taking a much more human approach that's closely linked to our company mission to 'help the world run better and improve people's lives.'"
For Becher and his team, it's all about demonstrating how SAP truly creates value for everyone on a day-to-day basis. "It's not just 'business runs SAP'; it's also 'life runs SAP,'" Becher says. "You can sum up the change as moving from B2B to P2P-people to people."