Written by Marketo CEO: Make Digital Transformation Matter: Never Leave the Side of Your Customer

Posted on behalf of our CEO, Phil Fernandez

When I started Marketo a decade ago, marketing was viewed primarily as a cost center whose chief function was to support other groups inside the enterprise. Yesterday’s marketers played a secondary role and primarily teed up brand impressions and TV ads that enabled sales to go out and sell.

But technology is transforming the way that customers communicate, interact, and engage with brands, driving fundamental changes that are moving marketing beyond the narrow confines of marketing departments.

Customers now engage with companies all the time as they communicate across a range of touchpoints - including social and mobile technologies, locations, and physical objects.

That wealth of data can bring us closer than ever before to our customers, and give us the ability to build real relationships with every customer based on what they’re saying - and not saying. It’s the Holy Grail for marketers.

Consider how yesterday’s marketers created ads and made decisions based largely on emotions. What a different picture exists today. Marketers today have access to powerful tools to help make decisions using data. What’s more, today’s marketers are driving revenue and have a broader stage to drive strategy centered around the lifecycle of the customer experience.

A boardroom priority

I’ve had many conversations with executives from leading global companies recently who are all talking about the next transformation ahead for their business. Some call it a digital transformation, others a customer experience transformation, but whatever you call it, this transition commands the attention of the CMO, CIO, and even the CEO. Indeed, McKinsey found that more than half the time, CEOs now personally sponsor their company’s digital initiatives, up from just 23 percent in 2012.

Their involvement underscores just how important it is for companies to put the new data and analytics to use and get closer to their customers. This shared agenda - recently described by Forrester Research CEO George Colony as a new Age of the Customer - is going to forever change the customer experience. But the road ahead includes unique technology challenges as well.

A new class of enterprise systems

Digital is at the core of everything we do in marketing and the delivery of cloud marketing technology is undergoing an exciting revolution. What we once called “marketing automation” has developed strong new muscles and evolved into a broad, ultra-high-scale, analytically-powered enterprise customer platform. The technology has broken out of the marketing department to become essential to vast transformation projects and a strategic weapon in business.

The explosion in the number of touchpoints and interactions is far beyond what most organizations are used to handling. There’s no hope of transforming the organization without a way to hear and analyze the totality of all this new information. That’s why prescriptive and at-scale technologies will play an integral role in this digital transformation.

The volume of information and interactions that companies need to understand as they engage their customers will be unprecedented. They’ll take the form of more than one billion customer touchpoints per day - that tell a story about a customer, and require a company to listen, learn and speak in a consistent, relevant and meaningful way at every stage of the customer journey.

Marketo will very soon deliver our customers our largest technology investment to date that will be our contribution to making this happen. Code-named Project Orion, it will have the capacity to handle 40 million events per customer per hour, store quadrillions of customer events within a few years, and handle 90 percent of analytics queries within five seconds.

This new platform will become the fabric of the enterprise, allowing companies to hear their customers everywhere they are, and enabling marketers to guide their customers at exactly the right place and the right time. Technologies like this will ensure that companies never leave the side of the customer.

That’s the only way to do digital transformation right. Otherwise, what’s the point?

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post on May 11, 2016.