Marketo touts the marketer as the new data scientist

Marketo CEO Steve Lucas believes the role of the marketer in 2017 and beyond will resemble more of a data scientist focused on customer engagement and less of a cost centre that is focused on impressions.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor on

Historically, the marketing team within an organisation has had little to do with the IT department or the product development team, while the CEO was generally concerned only with the revenue marketing ventures were bringing into the business.

According to Steve Lucas, Marketo's new CEO, the role of the marketer should now be more aligned to a data scientist and they should also be involved in product development -- playing a crucial part in the overall business operation.

"If the marketer doesn't adopt data science within their organisation, while the marketer doesn't have to be the chief digital officer, I believe the marketer needs to be the chief engagement officer -- CEO number two," Lucas told ZDNet. "That really begins and ends with data science and getting more insight to your customers."

Marketo develops marketing automation software that is used by companies such as GE Healthcare, Hortonworks, Nokia Networks, Rackspace, and World Vision Australia, as well as a number of universities and media outlets.

If there is one thing Lucas wants to change about the marketing world, it is the terminology marketers use to communicate what they are doing. He prefers the term "engaging" as opposed to marketing.

Pointing to Uber, Lucas said that the world's best bands, the ones that people can't live without, engage with their customers, not spam them with useless emails.

"Every city I show up in they [Uber] remember everywhere I've ever been and they have great suggestions for where I might want to go," he explained. "You will take Uber out of my cold, dead fingers because they know how to engage with me."

"The thing is, digital transformation, the informed buyer, all of these trends ... are going to force the marketer to change their behaviour to engage versus market.

"We've named this new era we live in the engagement economy which is all about the companies that win will engage and deliver personalised and meaningful experiences at scale -- which seems completely juxtaposed."

As the team most aware of a company's customer, Lucas believes there is also a place within the product development team for a marketer.

"I think marketing can be the most strategic driver in the future of product development," he said. "This attitude of 'We'll build the product then we'll let you know when it's ready so you guys can go market the heck out of it' has to fundamentally change."

With all the hype surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) and what it means for organisations, Lucas said he is "worried" about a company like Salesforce that has Einstein dancing around on stage in a video, saying a machine will automate marketing for the enterprise.

"Everyone talks about AI like it's this magical robot that's going to show up and automate all of your marketing for you and all of your problems will go away," he said. "AI is only as good as the data you have and only as good as the marketers that put it into practice."

Pointing to Microsoft's chat bot, Tay.ai -- the bot was suspended within 16 hours after a Twitter rampage that included spouting inflammatory and racist opinions -- Lucas said marketers need to be really careful with making sure such technology actually brings value to an organisation.

Lucas joined Marketo in November last year after leaving SAP, where he was the president of enterprise platforms and analytics for almost four years of his 11-year tenure.

Lucas replaced Phil Fernandez, who founded the Californian-based company in 2006. His departure followed shortly after Vista Equity Partners closed its $1.79 billion acquisition of Marketo.

The new CEO has also brought with him a "realigned" company focus, one that also puts Oracle and Salesforce on notice.

To Lucas, Marketo's goal is not to build every technology that the marketer will ever need -- rather, it is to build an "ecosystem" of third party add-ons, with approximately 650 third parties already doing so.

"I think it's a big hill to climb for any one company whether you're Oracle or Marketo frankly to say, 'We will build and be everything for the marketer'," he said.

"Even though we are technically a marketing cloud, we've kind of shunned the term to some degree ... we want to orchestrate for the marketer rather than be everything to the marketer.

"I think Oracle has a fairly misguided notion that they can be everything for the marketer, but the reality is that there is no single technology that enables the running of marketing and the doing of marketing in its entirety."

Lucas explained that Marketo has the largest ecosystem by three-times that of its competitors.

"The likes of Oracle or Salesforce have dozens to maybe 100 partners that do interesting things; we have the largest ecosystem and more importantly we have the highest quality ecosystem," he said.

"We share data, we share metadata, and the list goes on."

Come April, Marketo will be announcing a whole new set of dashboards, analytics, predictive and AI technologies, as well as a range of new technology that Lucas said will be oriented around enabling and arming the marketer with data science tools.

"Marketing is currently driven on tired metrics, expired metrics, or no metrics at all -- it's a motion," Lucas explained. "I don't think that will stop until we stop getting coupons in the mail ... no one uses them, yet we continue to live in that world that has been around for 100 years."

Looking forward, Lucas shared his intention to double Marketo's investment in Australia and New Zealand, hinting at bringing datacentre operations to the region as well, but not without taking another swing at Oracle.

"Oracle loses its death grip when you move outside the borders of the US a little bit, which is great for us," he said.

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