I recently had the pleasure and the privilege to attend BMA15, the Business Marketing Association’s annual conference in Chicago, IL. This year close to 1000 marketers from over 400 companies arrived in Chicago excited and ready to be inspired by the latest marketing trends, learn from the newest insights, and of course – to network.

Though the coined terms ranged anywhere from Face-2-Face marketing to Growth Hacking to Experience Marketing, the note I jotted down during one of the sessions simply said Theme of 2015 Conference is Marriage of Technology with Marketing. Under this cryptic note was a crude Euler diagram showing 3 circles overlapping together like a clover with labels of: Marketing, Technology, and Strategy

As I struggle to make sense of all this days later after consuming 48 hours of rapid fire content, I realize that what I thought was a theme of marriage and technology was merely the necessary result of a much deeper transformative theme. I’ll preface this by listing in addition to the usual CEO’s, CMO’s and senior VP’s of Marketing some of the C-Suite titles that presented at the conference: Chief Technology Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, and Chief Experience Officer.

Though often times silo’d, marketing and sales departments typically formed the core of an organization’s marketing functions. However now, social media, automated marketing, predictive analytics, cloud marketing, and corporate rebranding strategies have caused firms to create new working teams to analyze, predict, align, and collaborate in the complicated new matrix of marketing functionality. In some cases creating new titles and whole departments just keep up with the rapid advances in marketing technology and trends.

The same holds true for product offerings, employee engagement, and customer experience – all the way up to business strategy. In order to compete in this ever changing, ever evolving global economy, firms must rely on cross-functional teams in order to hit moving targets. Employees must be Macgyver’s of the business world – able to seamless maneuver between the traditional institution and a digital world foreign to most boomers and many X’ers. Leaders must be able to manage up as well as manage down while maintaining a cohesive, collaborative network with their peers. Strategic innovation stems from these cross-functional teams of problems solvers. The next generation of products and services, ideas and trends no longer takes a generation. Instead, businesses must be modern day alchemists looking to turn lead in to gold. They must be ready to find that combination, that marriage that will move them forward through this new world economy.

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