As we all work through the various impacts of the novel coronavirus – from the depressing and the serious to the merely inconvenient – it's vital that as much industry and business as is safe and possible continues. When thousands are dying, it can seem trite to even consider this, but it is not only important in terms of us having a vibrant post-virus world; IT is an important contributor to sustaining our lives and communications today, and also a vital element to finding ways to overcome the virus.
But that business-continuation demands some very different approaches and thinking; therefore, whenever possible over the coming weeks I'll be asking executives from IT vendors and partners to discuss their thoughts around the marketing changes, challenges, and - yes - also the opportunities that this pandemic is creating. I've called this series "Marketing in Challenging Times" - that's not to skirt around the issue of COVID-19, but to acknowledge the fact that the "challenging times" are likely to extend well beyond the point at which the pandemic is controlled, contained, or beaten...and also of course perhaps some of the lessons-learned and silver-linings-discovered will continue as well. Everyone brings their own perspectives to these conversations; as a minimum we hope they are cathartic, and at best they might provide a new idea or inspiration.
My guest for this conversation is James Whitemore, the CMO at NetApp. We talked first about the basics of the new style of work, where James and his team have tried to avoid a slavish digital recreation of what-used-to-be in order to make things both practical and productive; after all, who said meetings have to start on the hour or half hour!? James also talked his love of quantifiable marketing - both in terms of analyses and impacts. Fortunately for NetApp it had embarked upon an initiative called the "Digital Revenue Engine" months before COVID-19 hit...but its emphasis on extensive and sophisticated data insights enables James and his team to deliver against what he states as two of the most important requirements for contemporary marketing: immediacy and personalization.