There are four key decisions that senior leaders in brand management can make to drive their ROI across the short, medium and long-term and grow their brands. This is according to a new report by o9 solutions, commissioned by the IPA, and unveiled at the cross-industry’s flagship IPA EffWorks Global 2022 Conference.
The report, 'Quality Brand Growth in the Age of Disruption' examines brand growth across time horizons, analyses various different measurement methodologies, discusses the digital paradox – more data being available from more places does not equal more knowledge; and connects the dots between marketing and sales, Crucially, it also discusses the ‘how to’ in bringing everything together in a digitally-enabled, knowledge-powered decision-making ecosystem and sets out the key capability areas for growth.
While the report acknowledges that the range of options could seem daunting and certain choices could be seen as locking organisations into specific paths, it believes that there are tangible ‘no-regret’ actions that can be started immediately.
A core issue of the digital knowledge paradox is that organisations often don’t understand the full scope of the data they currently have, and by making a concerted effort (with real allocated resources) to map the knowledge within an organisation, executives can more easily know where gaps in granularity are papered over and where multiple functional resources are chasing similar datasets. This work is often severely undervalued by organisations, as often the ‘so-what’ isn’t immediately apparent – however, the effectiveness of all other measures hinges on quality data at the right aggregated levels.
KPIs do not need to be identical between brands, products, customers, and functions; however, they must be compatible at an organisational level – market penetration based on discounting is fundamentally opposed to maximising gross margin percentage, but both could be valid strategies and KPIs for different products/brands at different points in their life cycles. Senior executives should have consistent scorecards that tie together KPIs across functions, and hence lean-in early when observing situations where different parts of the organisation are moving at odds with each other.
In the past 40-50 years, tech solutions have proliferated: from rigid core ERPs to ultra-flexible worksheets to highly-focused point solutions with advanced analytics. The next frontier will be end-to-end cross-functional systems that both incorporate AI/ML to show a consistent internal point of view (e.g., a defined customer view from different directions: supply chain, sales, marketing, finance, etc.) and provide a framework to ingest new channels, data, and opportunities as they arrive (such as the metaverse).
Akin to leadership development programs developed by major players such as GE and large banks since the 1990s, exposing young talent to cross-functional teams and processes will pay long-term dividends to complex organisations. However, rather than thinking in terms of rotations in functions, cross-functional teams (especially across sales and marketing) should be emphasised as a permanent part of the organisation throughout all levels of seniority.
As new channels emerge and AI/ML technology matures, the report believes that brand organisations that have made investments in a cross-functional digital decision-making ecosystem will win disproportionately.
"In our conversations with senior executives across industries, we’ve learned that many organisations have struggled to realise the full benefits of digital-age brand-building capabilities at global scale despite having more data than ever before – what we’ve come to call the ‘digital knowledge paradox.’ This paper, developed in partnership between the IPA and o9 Solutions, tackles this ‘digital knowledge paradox’ by providing insights into some of the key digitally-enabled capabilities and practices that we believe will underpin success for the next generation of effective brand-building organisations."
"This report aims to provide guidance for senior leaders on how to steer their organisations to leverage these capabilities and set up processes that will best position them to capitalise on growth opportunities in the coming years. Underpinning the proposals is a clear need for organisations to shift to a holistic, connected approach for top-line growth management by breaking down long-standing barriers between commercial functions, ultimately combining insights and data to understand the short- and long-term financial value of every key commercial decision."Free download of the report.