Master's Blog Two

I have now held two more Business Lectures, and I feel it is about time I wrote a further blog to consolidate and summarise where we have got to in our journey to understand the challenges facing the 2020 CMO.

Business Lecture One -  A reminder

In the first lecture in the series (The Possibilities are Infinite - or Are they?) Marc Silvester explained the opportunities that the new technology offers business in general and marketers in particular. However, he was careful to point out that technologists can only provide the tools. The question for us as marketing professionals is therefore which tools to adopt and how best to use them.

You can read the full summary of Marc’s lecture in my Master’s Blog One.

Three Issues to Focus on

The new technology has made great quantities of data available to marketers, and it is of immense value to us. Three issues however arise:

  • how do we ensure that data is held securely? 
  • what regulatory constraints exist on our ability to use it?
  • how can we exploit it to the best advantage of our profession and the businesses that we serve.

Business Lecture Two:  Part One - Cyber Security

The second lecture by Dr Henry Pearson (Cyber Security and Privacy - Threats and Opportunities) focussed on the first two issues.

The Costs and Other Impacts of Cyber Attacks

He began with cyber security, pointing out that data security should be the concern of everyone in the business including the marketing department. Successful cyber attacks not only cause companies financial damage. The Impact on the reputation of the victim’s brand  and  on its enterprise value or share price (if quoted) can also be severe.

Preventing Cyber Attacks - The Technology

Henry was asked whether cyber intrusions are inevitable. His reply was “yes”, but he went on to say that this did not mean companies should give up and live in fear. 80-90% of cyber attacks could be prevented by relatively simple and cheap measures. He gave the following pieces of advice, simple to implement and important not just for business but for all of us as home users as well:

1. Always apply patches and updates to your operating system and other software as soon as they become available.

2. Make sure your firewall is turned on.

3. Install an appropriate anti-virus program.

Preventing Cyber Attacks -  Management’s Role

Henry then concluded the discussion on cyber security by emphasising two basic points. First, the whole of the C-Suite must be engaged in and committed to cyber security. This is not just a task for the CIO or CSIO (Chief Information Security Officer). Second the prevailing culture for efficient cyber security is to recognise this is not simply a problem of negligent users. Hackers have now become so sophisticated anyone can be caught out.

Managing the Consequences of a Cyber Attack

Henry next moved to give some advice as to how to deal with the consequences of a cyber attack. He made the point that how a company reacts when it is attacked can materially affect the business outcome. The basic principle is open, honest and timely announcements of the problem and the steps being taken to deal with it. It is essential to have a crisis management plan prepared in advance, so that it can be implemented quickly whenever necessary.

You can read the details of his talk on Cyber Security in Part One of the full summary of his lecture HERE.

Business Lecture Two: Part Two - Data Protection and Privacy

Henry then turned to consider data protection and privacy. You can read what he said as well as further comments on GDPR related subjects in my Master’s Blog Three, which is now in  course of preparation.

Business Lecture Three - How to Manage Your Data

The third business lecture (How to Manage your Data) was given by Roger Camrass.

The Real Issue to Focus On - Exploiting Data

He began by asking whether as marketers we are preoccupied with the right issues about our data.

Most companies today are pre-occupied with the pressing matters of Compliance, Cyber Security and Data Protection, but meanwhile digital giants such as Amazon and Google continue to exploit customer data to disrupt virtually every sector. How can more traditional companies take a proactive stance to marshal their key asset – Data? What are the obstacles, and how might best practice take them forward?

Changing from an Analogue to a Digital Business Model

Roger described the problem as emanating from a tectonic shift in the business environment: from analogue towards a digital business model. This is resulting in a change of emphasis from:

  • Hardware to Software (e.g. the connected car)
  • Products to Service (e.g. from scanners to digital scanned images)
  • Transactions to Lifetime Customer Value (from ownership to access)

To survive in this changing environment there needs to be a corresponding shift in our business model. In the analogue world we concentrated on optimising performance by focusing on operational efficiency, the correct scope and scale for the particular business and cost reduction. In the digital world we need to focus on speed and agility, development of products and services through continuous experimentation and personalisation of our customer offerings right down to the level of the individual.

Data-Driven Decision Making

The new technology has created the possibility of a paradigm shift in the way businesses make decisions, from decisions based on management intuition or judgement to those based on data-driven insights. Access in the digital word to objective facts makes data-driven decisions possible, if we have the courage to make them despite our subjective preconceptions about what the answer should be, or what we would prefer it to be.

Finally, the speed with which data (now more than 80% unstructured) can be collected and analysed makes it not only possible but also necessary to reduce decision timescales from weeks or months to hours and sometimes minutes.

All these trends are leading towards the data-driven organisation. The organisations which change and adapt to the new environment will survive and prosper. Those who fail to do so will fall by the wayside.

Challenges in Moving to the Data-Driven Organisation

Roger admitted that he was painting an idealised picture of the data-driven organisation. There are clearly many challenges for businesses to move towards the new model. He summed up the business challenges relating to data management as follows:

  • Gaining deeper insights into internal and external data
  • Integrating a growing number of third parties (eco-systems)
  • Processing data in near real-time
  • Responding to regulatory and compliance initiatives

He then set out his view of the necessary steps to move to the new business model of the data- driven organisation.


He concluded by emphasising that, as with the advent of public cloud-based services in 2008/9, the next decade of data management will intensify the gap between winners and losers. No time should be lost now in elevating this subject to the Board.

You can read the full summary of his lecture HERE.

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The Worshipful Company of Marketors is a City Livery Company. Members of the Company are on the way to achieving, or have achieved, mastery and excellence within the Marketing profession.