Remember when focus groups and market research surveys drove the work we did as marketers? Today, data drives everything we do—from concepting campaigns to the new skills we need on marketing “dream teams.” It’s no longer enough to be marketing experts. We have to be data experts, leveraging analytics to ruthlessly test strategies, creative, and CTAs—and to embrace the innovations that are reshaping our campaigns.

Here are some key trends that will bring data and infrastructure to the forefront of CMO focus in 2022.

Marketers are more hands-on with data than ever before

IDC predicts that “marketing investment in data and analytics infrastructure will exceed investment in engagement systems as a percentage of MarTech spend for the first time ever.”¹ In a survey we conducted with Bredin Research, we also found that 45% of IT organizations are focusing investments to drive data analytics programs—a positive alignment where marketing is concerned.

With the right underlying data and analytics platforms, quantity can more easily become quality. We can create teams of citizen data scientists within our teams, and more data won’t have to mean we’re drowning in it—especially in the complex world of unstructured data.

Proactive, prescriptive data-driven experiences will extend campaigns beyond top of the funnel

Our research revealed that the #1 breakthrough organizations are seeking in 2022 is to reach new customers using digital platforms (61%). You can bet that’s where marketing will be a key partner for success.

Big data insights will drive the proactive, human-focused interactions our customers expect these days. Domino’s Pizza does this incredibly well. Dan Djuric, VP of global infrastructure and information management, says, “Customers care about different things now. They’re engaging with us differently. We need to be ready for their preferences: self-service.”

Domino’s calls this “surgically campaigning to customers,” and it’s possible by gathering data from thousands of transactions a minute.² Gathering is good, but as marketers, we’ll need help digging value out of all that data.

As we tap customer data, put data hygiene, privacy, and compliance at the forefront

As some of the biggest consumers of customer data, marketers will want to ensure that we’re using it accurately, safely, and securely—not opening the broader organization up to risk or non-compliance. Forge closer collaboration with our security teams and CISOs to establish the best compliance, privacy, and governance strategies we can. Ensure customer data is audited, clean, organized, and deduplicated.

[Download: 10 Questions to Ask Your CISO Now]

The anonymity and immutability of Web 3.0 may help with privacy

It’s time to explore blockchain’s potential for marketing and the customer data value exchange. There’s huge potential for blockchain to head off privacy concerns with anonymity and immutability. And, “attention tokens” could be a way to compensate customers for sharing data and preferences. Customer data tokens (CDTs) could give customers an anonymous way to share the data they choose, resulting in targeted experiences without the privacy concerns.

IT will be an important ally as you explore blockchain protocols, smart contracts, and advertising and compensation models.

To keep up with innovation, we’ll have to upskill to create “dream teams”

Skills gaps and talent shortages are slowing innovation across the board from IT to HR. Of the 500 respondents we surveyed, 52% anticipate a shift in organizational structure in 2022, with 72% planning to train or reskill to bridge that gap. The marketing “dream team” will evolve, too.

In addition to creating a culture of learning, testing, and experimentation founded in data, we’ll want to add a diversity of skills and talents to our teams, including:

  • AI and automation
  • Data science and advanced analytics
  • Tech-centric design—3D animation, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and extended reality (XR)

If we can combine cross-functional leadership with these digital dream teams, we’ll innovate faster with much greater operational efficiency.

To embrace AR/VR projects, be prepared with scalable data solutions

Today, buyers—even in B2B—are more at ease with virtual experiences. It’s even a criterion for some to make a purchase:

  • In the next five years, 40% of U.S. internet users will use augmented reality.
  • In the next year, 45% of all B2B and B2C customers will seek experiences that both mirror and augment in-person interactions.

As marketers, this is our sandbox to enhance engagement, but note: Pulling off these data-intensive projects will require powerful data infrastructures that can handle these workloads.

CMOs will help pioneer the non-fungible token (NFT)

NFTs promise to revolutionize content marketing and digital media with both monetization and democratization. Now is the time to consider how we can use them to interact with customers and give them chance to contribute to and stake equity in our content. Maybe you’ve seen them as art, video game assets, or songs—but in many use cases, those are merely symbolic of the real value attached. Owning an NFT can mean having governance rights, the ability to vote on or contribute to projects, equity, invitations to in-person events, exclusive “airdrops” of additional value or privileges, and more.

IDC predicts 50% of all digital assets, from first-party customer data to influencer-created brand content, will be traded with consent as NFTs.³ Brands like Roblox, Coco-Cola and Vans are already tapping into token-friendly communities like gaming, the arts, and the metaverse—don’t miss the boat.

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To embrace these and other trends, CMOs will have a stake in infrastructure decisions

As IDC’s Laurie Buczek puts it, a “digital-first world requires a digital-first CMO.” Just look at the emerging technologies we’re adopting. We’re becoming tech experts as much as we are marketing experts. With data management playing a growing role in our success, investing in the right data solutions is critical.

Buczek notes, “There’s large amounts of data, and the velocity around…that data into the enterprise is growing exponentially. We need to commit resources to foster, develop, and mandate connectivity for driven outcomes with our customers.”

A Modern Data Experience™ that offers self-service access to the data you need, when you need it, can support strategic growth, help you plan for the future, optimize budgets, and meet SLAs. It’s what we deliver at Pure Storage, and just might be the secret weapon modern marketing organizations need to win.

Learn more about the Pure Storage® and why we’ve been voted a Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ leader eight years in a row.