Blog "Outsiders" Take Digital Leadership Roles and Shake Up Their Firms

Posted December 7, 2017 by Mike Cogburn

Every executive at every firm needs to understand digital, especially how and where it adds value for its customers. For the first time, it seems most do and are investing in digital capabilities – putting digital teams on the right trajectory for their firms’ long-term success.

The majority of digital leaders attending DST’s Future of Digital roundtable have come from industries outside of asset management – this is not something that was true five (or more) years ago. These new leaders have been great change catalysts for how digital teams work to add value to the business, highlighting the value, and propelling their stature.

The Biggest Changes

During a candid and engaging conversation, I felt a sense of optimism from the group. Aside from some frustration at the speed of change, which we often all share, digital teams are progressing and growing from serving as mere website content managers and posters to more effective and strategic partners. Here are a few examples of change that stuck out.

Digital teams are

  1. Forming closer partnerships with sales teams, including national accounts. About half of attending firms said they have a former sales person on their team. All but one attendee had been on any sort of “ride along” with a wholesaler to understand exactly what their conversations with advisors are like… or to see what advisors do in their offices. DST’s research has always painted pictures of their needs, expectations, and preferences, but this type of experience should be a necessity for marketers – at least once a year. The same goes for national accounts contacts, but we have yet to see a firm do that.Research, Analytics, and Consulting Outsiders Take Digital Leadership Roles illustration
  2. More responsible for lead generation and lead management. Most firms are using marketing automation technologies to uncover and grow leads throughout customer journeys. They are focused on triggering messages at the right times, bringing in sales teams when appropriate, and in general helping sales leverage more technology to grow customer relationships.
  3. Creating modern digital experiences for more customers, such as home office contacts. They are doing this by leveraging more data-driven and automated personalization tools.
  4. Creating more technical agility with an influx of front-end developers sitting on digital marketing teams outside of IT groups. One exec from a large asset manager made the point that this is a strong sign that leaders recognize de-centralized teams enable employees to be closer to and understand specific customers/segments at greater depth, directly impacting their work.
  5. Looking to the future by experimenting with readying content for more innovative technologies/channels such as voice (such as Alexa skills), Pinterest, Snapchat/Instagram stories, and SMS/text.

Where do We go from Here?

We heard and shared many predictions for the next few years for the industry, and it struck me that many attendee predictions were centered on hope. Hope for having data better connected to inform customer experience and to assist in closing sales. Hope for making better use of opportunities that digital uncovers. Hope for industry leaders to understand specific problems customers have that their firms can help with, and the acumen to help their teams apply their data. And hope for the reputation of digital to continue its trajectory toward that of a revenue contributor rather than sales support or cost center.

Mike Cogburn
Managing Consultant
Research, Analytics, and Consulting

categories: c-suite, digital marketing, marketing strategy, roundtable/events, sales and marketing alignment

The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of DST Systems, Inc. or its affiliates, subsidiaries, joint ventures, officers, directors, or management.

Of Interest...

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