Marketing Desperately Needs Problem Solvers

The Value of Universities

The ubiquitous influence of the Internet of Things, with the help of technologies such as wireless networking, mobile and wearables, has created unimaginable opportunities and also problems for marketing and marketers around the globe. Marketers always face a challenge in identifying the right segment of customers to target and the appropriate offerings for the identified markets. Firms require marketing talent who can identify a high-value global segment (i.e. potential customers with similar desires irrespective of their geographic locations) with high-growth potentials which can be reached with a single or dual models of the product and/or service (e.g. Apple’s iPhone). Today’s technology enables marketing talents to meet this challenge much more effectively than ever. However, marketing talent with the required technical and analytical skills are hardly available in the global market, particularly in Malaysia.

In the January–February 1990 issue of Harvard Business Review, Regis McKenna published an article titled as Marketing is Everything. In this article he argued, “The marketer must be the integrator, both internally—synthesizing technological capability with market needs—and externally—bringing the customer into the company as a participant in the development and adaptation of goods and services … Marketing has to be all-pervasive, part of everyone’s job description, from the receptionists to the board of directors. Its job is neither to fool the customer nor to falsify the company’s image”. Such marketers who have the ability and skills to integrate customers’ wants and preferences into the development and delivery of cost-effective offerings are required by almost every firm in every industry.

Successful firms like General Electric (GE) have always placed the marketing person in the centre of the firm. The marketing person is given the responsibility and authority to influence other firm functions in a manner that will ensure timely and cost-effective delivery of what customers want rather than what GE wants to make for them. Firms are rapidly transforming themselves into “smart” firms with the help of their human resource talent. Successful marketers need to constantly think about competing in the uncertain future by interfacing with the market and within the firm itself. They need to worry about finding cost-effective and efficient ways of interacting with customers and potential customers who use various types of media for shared communication (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Traditionally, many marketing and sales people feel happy if they were able to match the specifications and prices of their competitors’ products. However, today’s winners are those who “beat the competition” rather than “meet the competition”. Therefore, marketers who are skilled in generating insights from customers and competitors through shared communication for potential business opportunities are in high demand. Traditional approaches of taking goods and services from marketers’ premises to customers do not seem to be helpful for most firms due to the emergence of the “omni-channel”. We need to understand that “omni-channel” is not the same as the “multi-channel”. Due to this, globalisation is no longer a choice for most firms. A firm may choose to operate locally but customers have globalised and enjoy buying from overseas firms such as from the comfort of their home. The identification and coordination of interfaces linking various channels with the globalised customers are a new challenge in today’s world for which most marketing talents are not prepared for.

These challenges mean that firms will be in need of talents who can develop both incrementally and radically innovative marketing approaches, since innovative products and services alone are not enough to win today’s rapidly evolving market.

Professor Sanjaya Singh Gaur
Professor and Head
Department of Marketing


Originally published in The Edge, February 2017