Introducing Oracle’s VP of EMEA Marketing

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Emmanuel Obadia Oracle

We speak to one of the newest members of CX Network’s Advisory Board – Emmanuel Obadia,VP Marketing, EMEA Applications at Oracle about cutting edge marketing concepts in today’s customer experience economy.

Hyper-personalised marketing is a key trend in the industry, how in your opinion have we seen this develop in 2018?

Emmanuel: “We moved from interruption marketing to permission marketing thanks to Mr Seth Godin; to inbound and content marketing more recently. Now we’re really in the consent marketing era. This is the necessary progression, because the consumers are now in control.

“The industry expectation is to apply real-time, one-to-one, in-context personalisation at scale. In practice, this is difficult  because the buyer’s journey is not linear at all and when your organisation becomes larger you will have different parts of the team working to address the customer experience for the marketing journey. It becomes even more difficult to do that in the context of the entire customer experience that goes across marketing, sales, ecommerce and customer service.

“A lot of companies have embarked on this mission to perform real-time, one-to-one, in-context personalisation at scale. But, according to a recent report I read in the UK, only 16% of organisations are able to adjust to customer experiences in real-time based on customer behaviour. Only 17% are able to adjust to the customer journey in a few hours. 25% say it takes more than a day because they’re going through manual processes.”

Customer Engagement Strategies

How can businesses avoid over-stepping the mark with hyper-personalization – for instance when users consider marketing efforts as ‘creepy’?

Emmanuel:     “This is why I insist on this notion of consent marketing. It’s all about consent marketing within this customer experience economy.

“We’re now at the stage where you need to have the following three things combined:

Number one, you need to have connected data, which is basically ensuring you have a 360° view of your prospects and customers, combining first, second and third-party data for smart analytical decision-making.

“Secondly, you want to apply intelligence, AI preferably, but you want to use intelligence to activate that data to engage with those customers in a highly personalised way in real-time and at scale.

“The third element is to connect the experiences that provide you with the insight so you can deliver what the customer wants, when they want it, in the form they desire and so on.

“We suggest all of that, should be done on an integrated platform that is connected with the back office, because very rarely you have the customer experience happening in the front shop only.

“This platform is the basis for avoiding the creepy marketing because it should make sure you are always relevant and in context with the customer’s preferences and position in the buyer’s journey.

“You get the user to continue to give you his or her consent and then you add a layer. We experienced that ourselves in a dynamic-advertising campaign we had, we saw real-time personalisation making a lot more sense as we progressed.

“Initially when you are in the launch phase, customers are still relatively unaware of you so the one-to-one personalisation doesn’t influence a great deal. As soon as you go to the engaged stage that makes a huge difference and your engagement results should be multiplied by three, if not by four.”

Read Oracle's latest report with CX Network: Creating tomorrow’s customer experience today

What is the best customer experience you’ve ever received?

Emmanuel:  “The Apple shopping experience for many reasons really interests me, as I think they have probably been the first, big player to introduce the ‘no cash’ aspect in their retail stores. You enter a shop. You speak with someone. They tell you about the item, you select the one you want and then you pay for it on the spot. If you have an Apple account then it’s all done and attached to your profile. That’s a great experience.

“The other experience that springs to mind is from Amazon. Their online experience is highly personalised and the customer is really front of focus.

“Although, I’m still looking for an amazing experience that combines the two worlds (online and offline) outside of the standard Click & Collect system. I can think of a few brands attempting to combine those two in an interesting way.

“One experience I haven’t had so far is the predictive, useful customer experience. This is where brands don’t wait for me to ask for assistance, they approach me, in context, with what they think I’m about to do and offer some help.”

I’ve really wanted to visit one of Amazon’s brick and mortar stores; the Amazon Go stores, with the cashier-less set up, it’s very innovative!

Emmanuel:    “Amazon is about to open their first pop-up store here in Paris. It’s going to be a big thing for us.”

What is the most overrated buzz word in CX or customer service and why?

Emmanuel:    “The first one is going to be: chatbots. Everyone wants a chatbot. But upon further inspection the actual use case of the chatbot may be less convincing.  I think we should pay attention to this.

“At one point in their journey certain customers may like to use a chatbot, because it’s a lot easier, especially when the bot is within their messenger of preference. But brands should not blindly implement chatbots for the sake of it.

“The second overrated buzzword I could not ignore is AI. I was at Gartner Symposium a couple of weeks ago in Barcelona, and I saw all the vendors shouting: ‘We have AI for you. We have AI for you.’ It’s all well and good having AI, but it is more important to plan how you are going to apply it to better your CX. I know from my experience discussing with customers, it’s not that easy to derive the use-case that really boosts your customer experience from AI.”

What is the most underrated tool, tech or software in the CX industry, and why?

Emmanuel:    “Again I am going to use two examples, but they’re connected. The first one relates to the tools that provide intent data. I know this first hand, because at Oracle we’ve embarked for about 18 months on ABM (Account Based Marketing) at scale to leverage intent data to better focus sales and marketing activities.  Yes, it is difficult for companies to harness it but the benefit of it is really immense.

“To give you a sense of what intent data brought to us: when we analysed 11,000 opportunities in our pipelines and then focused on the accounts signalling intent, we were three times more likely to identify a strong sales lead and two times more likely to actually close the deal. What’s more, the average deal size was 2.2 times larger than from companies not showing intent. This is really something marketing and sales should think more about, because there is a lot of value.

“The second one is the customer-data platform. Circling back to what I was saying earlier, companies want to have connected data, connected intelligence, and connected experiences. You want that customer-data platform, that 360° view, including first, second and third party data.

“In my view, this is at the core of CX transformation, but it’s extremely hard to implement. It involves different parts of the organisation and breaking down siloes – starting with the ones that divide marketing, sales, service and ecommerce.

“I encountered one example of silos disrupting the connected experience with Amazon. For instance, when I buy something, they ask me for my opinion on what I just bought and then soon after they re-target me with the same item or something very similar elsewhere on the web, which is wrong. They know I purchased the article but yet they are asking me to buy the same thing again. So you see, Amazon is really leading edge in that area and even they are still a victim of those siloes.

“At Oracle we are trying to address this silo issue by introducing a new offer – CX Unity.

“With all this in mind, I think companies should be looking harder at intent data and customer-data platforms.

What’s been your biggest learning in your career to-date?

Emmanuel:    “The biggest learning for me is that human factors and emotional intelligence are both crucial to success.

“As leaders, we should spend more time cultivating authenticity. We should be practicing concepts such as change management and empowerment, transparency with our own teams. In the industry many companies are enduring digital transformation. Changes on the outside are happening at such a rapid pace that it exceeds the amount the internal fleet can absorb. If we don’t practice that emotional intelligence and develop these people as a team so they have the tools to cope with that changing environment we won’t go very far.”

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