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Agile Marketing: It all starts with Operations

It’s no surprise that agile firms perform better than non-agile firms. However, what may surprise you is by how much. Research conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that agile organizations actually grow revenue 37% faster and generate 30% higher profits than their non-agile counterparts. A 2009 survey conducted by the Economist’s Economic Intelligence Unit, found that more than 80% of companies surveyed had “undertaken one or more change initiatives to improve agility.” Yet despite their efforts, more than a third of organizations (34%) believe their initiatives “failed to deliver the desired benefits.” With so many companies struggling to obtain desired results, what’s the key to becoming more agile?

Managers Understand the Problem

Most managers realize that an agile organization is going to be a more successful organization yet, it’s easier said than done. The problem managers face is “how do we successfully move our organization in that direction?” To compete in today’s fast-paced environment, “businesses need to refine organizational processes and leverage institutional and outside knowledge more effectively”, says Mr. Stefan Kohn, Head of Innovation Management Fujifilm Europe. “It’s impossible to keep up with the amount of information that churns through the workplace. Making information easier to use is the Holy Grail.”

Only one in five firms surveyed believed that their company is able to “react as swiftly as needed.” While more than 80% have “attempted” to make their companies more agile, over one third believe that their programs have under-delivered. Managers understand that having the ability to access the right information at the right time can mean the difference between success and failure. However, a lot of organizations are finding this difficult to achieve. In fact, 52% of firms surveyed said that they often have to spend valuable time hunting for key information. A 2011 Mindjet study, found that the average employee spends 21 minutes a day – that’s the equivalent of more than two weeks a year – looking for information they’ve previously seen but can’t find. Kind of difficult to have improved business responsiveness if you are unable to find any information to base those decisions off of, no?

How Can We Fix It?

So if we understand the problem, what are the best corrective actions to take? In a post from Marketing Governance, Laura Patterson shares an interesting solution. She suggests the key to becoming a true agile organization resides with marketing operations. “Marketing operations is the infrastructure, the mechanism and the engine that helps marketing be more agile and generate more value for the business.” Because of the nature of marketing operations it usually is the first group to implement the tools and skills necessary form marketing to drive business results. They also bridge a competency gap helping bring sales, marketing finance together. “Marketing operations … serves the role as conduit between Marketing, Sales, Finance and the executive team.” So if you’re agile strategy is not focusing/ incorporating marketing operations then it’s a good idea to back to the drawing board and devise a one that does.

Your Thoughts

What is the one place inside your organization that is the most instrumental for change?

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