Digital Marketing South Africa - How IAG is kickstarting a digital marketing revolution

IAG's head of digital technology and martech platforms reveals how the insurance giant is centralising and transforming marketing with a people, process and tech overhaul

The need to reduce campaign delivery from 22 weeks to a matter of days has kickstarted a direct marketing transformation at IAG that sees the ASX-listed insurance giant not only replacing and centralising its core marketing technology stack, but also rethinking its customer approach.

IAG head of digital technology and martech platforms, Brent Burgess, said marketing technology was historically the domain of each division under the umbrella group.

As previously reported by CMO, IAG's business brands, for example, encompassing Swann Insurance,  CGU and WFI, had built out a Salesforce Marketing Cloud, while the personal insurance division, including NRMA, SGC, SGIO and RACV, ran campaigns out of an on-premise, IBM Unica platform.

Having a distinct approach to martech is just one of many examples of IAG's devolved operating model, which built up over the years through acquisition and organic growth.

Burgess' remit upon joining 18 months ago was to improve and centralise digital marketing capability so campaigns that took as long as 22 weeks to execute could be undertaken in a matter of days in a more streamlined way. The decision has led to IAG replacing both Unica and Salesforce platforms in favour of Adobe's Marketing Cloud offering, but it's also triggered changes that have ramifications group-wide.

"We kicked off a direct marketing transformation looking at the typical things: People, process and technology," Burgess told CMO. "It was evident our processes weren't as lean and efficient as they could be, so we first looked at that area.

"In addition, we had a number of different technology stacks. You also had lengthy approval processes, briefs and reverse briefs back from agencies, sign-offs, all adding up to that campaign time. Plus the technology wasn't marketing leading when it comes to digital marketing."

Then there's the wider IAG objective to become a more customer-focused organisation. In late 2015, the group restructured into two customer-facing divisions: Business and Consumer.

It also introduced a Customer Lab, incorporating customer experience strategy, product innovation, data and insights, brand architecture and new business incubations and venturing. The ultimate ambition with the new operating model is to be able to adapt more quickly to the rapidly changing business environment IAG now faces.

Step 1: Establish the team and remit

In replatforming marketing, the first step for Burgess was to build a cross-functional team tapping into existing internal resources. Burgess' role sits under IAG chief customer officer, Julie Batch, who has responsibility for all customer-facing technology including CRM and engagement tools. Core technology infrastructure and capability, meanwhile, sits under IAG COO, Mark Milliner.

Burgess used an open selection process internally, appointing former direct marketing strategy manager, Anthony Marquette, as marketing automation lead.

"It's an interesting team formed around a mix of skills," Burgess commented. "Anthony comes from a traditional marketing background, not a technology one. He's a strong marketer and a delivery focused individual, who's great with people and the business. It was a conscious decision to hire someone internally into that role.

"Then we have a mix of traditional business analysts, plus marketing technology people, who understand data as well as the platforms. We also have a tester helping with validation of the data."

Step 2: Choose the technology

It was clear two platforms, one of which remained on-premise, would hinder marketing innovation and agility. As revealed at the Adobe Summits in the US and Australia, the company has chosen to migrate to Adobe's Marketing Cloud.

IAG had already been using Adobe Analytics across the majority of digital assets, and Adobe Target for A/B testing. Under the new contract, the group is rolling out Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) as a shared instance across Australia, New Zealand and potentially Asia, as well as Adobe Campaign for campaign management and automation.

IAG signed the contract in August and had the first campaigns live in December. Work started with two cross-sell campaigns for NRMA, SGIO and SGC, chosen both for their relatively low-level of complexity and risk, but also because they offered up significant business value.

"To get two campaigns out by December while going through all the organisational change and challenges of standing up a new platform was an amazing effort," Burgess said.

IAG's group plan is to migrate all IT capability to the cloud, but it's easier said than done. Although martech will be run via software-as-a-service, Burgess said the business wasn't yet ready from an APRA and compliance perspective.

To future-proof the martech platform, his team designed the martech instance in such a way that it can be hosted in the cloud at a later date.

"It was challenging, but I think we're one of the first customers that can show a seamless deployment between on-premise and the cloud," he continued.

Step 3: Tackle a single customer view

Alongside navigating the technology environment, IAG faced a data challenge. While a huge array of data exists across the organisation, significant chunks resided in data silos.

"We've effectively been changing the engine on the plane while we're still flying the plane," Burgess said. "Our core data environment is critical to driving martech and adtech, and the tech stack. It's been a challenge, but we're taking an innovative approach to both data and tech pieces."

As part of the shift to a centralised data model, IAG is moving from a traditional data warehouse environment to a big data approach where everything is pooled into one data lake.

"We are contextualising that into what we call the 'single view of customer', then we're building a customer analytical record, which is marrying all extended attributes of behavioural data. Those two things combined will be driving our martech and adtech."

Burgess noted the difference between having a legal entity versus an analytical match of a customer using data. "You can use an analytical match to understand segments of cohorts of people, understand trends, behaviour, and do deep analysis around the types of products and services we should be delivering to our customers," he said.

"That's different to the legal entity match. We're at the point now of recreating what we had in BI, which was a lot of context built up over the course of five years and lots of embedded knowledge in people and those groups, in a way that gives us the confidence that we're sending out communications to the right people.

"That's the context the data team are working on at the moment, and that will allow us to accelerate delivery of campaigns."

Step 4: Build the future marketer

Technology and process are just two of the three legs of any modern marketing stool, however. Burgess said work on fostering the "marketer of the future" is the third priority.

"Kicking off our marketing innovation build internally was effectively a change of practice internally bringing different marketing departments together," he said. To help, IAG appointed its first group CMO, Brent Smart, in late 2016.

"Traditional marketing was about having a brief, working with an agency, and having the agency do the creative to a first brief. Execution of our channels was also outsourced, so we'd provide them with a whitelist and they'd execute then report back, which could take weeks. There'd be questions on if it was accurate, and if we'd measured the effectiveness of our campaigns. That's not being effective.

"The skills and marketer of the future is something we're now working on."

As well as extensive platform training, marketing staff are sitting with IAG's martech implementation partner on a daily basis to ensure skills around executing data-driven, digitally fuelled and iterative marketing campaigns are transferred.

"Changing that marketer of the future from a technology perspective is one thing; then there is the marketing operations that will be driving things, generating reporting, and understanding the effectiveness of campaigns," Burgess said. "Again, that blend of marketing and technology is a new skill we're working to develop internally."

More execution capability from agencies must become internalised, Burgess said. "Once we digitise those processes, and have the collateral and creative under our control and ownership, this technology will allow us to assemble campaigns incredibly rapidly," he said. "That's what we're aiming for."

What's further helping foster agility is adopting a lean enterprise approach across the entire organisation, led by IAG CEO, Peter Harmer. With any change, executive endorsement is vital, Burgess claimed.

"I don't believe when you're trying to change an organisation internally that you can do it as a grassroots movement," he said. "You will not achieve the outcomes you need to in order to affect lasting change."

Now that marketing is coming together at IAG, a centralised martech plan has been established and campaigns have started rolling out, Burgess said change is well underway.

Step 5: Keep changing

Burgess' next priority is scaling the martech platform to encompass all of IAG's campaign activity. Key to that is the data piece, and looking at which of the 300 or more campaigns run today should be migrated, versus those that shouldn't, he said.

The team also wants to up other channels outside of email, and is now working to enable SMS and outbound. Simultaneously, a team led by IAG's personalisation engineering director, Willem Paling, is investigating how to improve adtech capabilities.

Burgess noted the insurance industry is ripe for disruption and shaking up marketing is part of a much larger change the organisation must go through if it's to stay relevant in a connected customer age.

"With the advent of autonomous vehicles, the sharing economy, and so on, we know traditional products, which have a typical 6-12 month lifespan based around renewal, are going to change dramatically," he said.

"The work we're doing in the data space for example, is about understanding our customers' networks, relationships, their behaviour and their intent. It's about creating the products and services that meet their needs, as opposed to insuring an asset.

"If we can insure you, your family and network and have a far more frequent interaction with you, then we become more relevant. We believe this will create growth for new products and services that meet your needs.

"This is setting us up to have far more relevant and timely conversations with you across channels as we develop those products and services of the future."

Post Appeared on CMO



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