Are your departments collaborating? If not, you won’t survive

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One of the biggest challenges businesses face is ensuring their left arm is talking to their right arm.

Navigating and removing the silos of business departments to develop and implement a holistic communications approach is certainly difficult at the best of times. In fact, IBM found that CMOs rate cross-communications as one of their biggest challenges in the coming year.

Questions we ask our clients include “how do you ensure your customer service department is talking with, and sharing intelligence with your public relations team? What capacity do you have to feed in real-time supply chain data to your marketing strategy?”

The solidification of digital and the emergence of the next big disruption, data, have made a cohesive, integrated approach is now more critical than ever.

With the union of media (digital, ATL, outdoor and mobile) driving an unprecedented convergence of communications and a Global Village of hyper-connected people, brands can no longer rely on isolation or ‘walls’. This through-the-line communications environment means what happens at band camp is now public across multiple touch points within a matter of hours.

We saw this with Qantas and their #qantasluxury episode that is now referenced in conferences and social media worst example lists. But we’re also seeing less high-profile, and arguably more damaging examples each month of brands doing one thing, and saying another simply because their departments aren’t collaborating.

Just recently we have seen Coles demonstrate the gap between their advertising and marketing department, and their supply chain. The TVC they released for their Olympics support focuses on their support of young sports people, yet is set on a farm. At the same time, Coles is battling a PR and supply chain war with their continual aggressive sourcing of product and pricing strategy leaving Australian farmers earning less income. And consumers made the link.

What could Coles have done differently?

Used the intelligence to design their brand proposition and pre-empted that using a farm as a backdrop for their hugely expensive Olympics sponsorship, wouldn’t win over already aggressive detractors.

The benefits of businesses removing silos and cross-collaborating across intelligence and strategy are immense.

Digital platforms offer businesses and strategists a wealth of insight simply through the soft data patterns. You can gauge insights in sentiment, reach, propensity to action and issues that matter to your stakeholders and this can become powerful intelligence when you marry the data patterns across your other CRM systems.

Predictive modeling from this intelligence is becoming the silver bullet for many brands that are investing in this space. A major beverage manufacturer was able to achieve significant cost savings and an optimized supply chain by factoring in weather data into their predictive analytics. And Target was able to predict when women would become pregnant, and optimize their CRM and POS to acquire these customers at the very moment of need.

And it should be used as a learning point that digital activity cannot be viewed in isolation to your wider brand. Because in today’s though-the-line communications, there are no walls. But there are second chances.

 

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Margaret Gee’s Media Round.