Omni-Channel: the Evolution of IMC in a Real-Time World
Written By Randy Hlavac, Lecturer, Medill IMC Department, Northwestern University
Edited By Yiwen (Sophia) Jiao, Medill IMC Class Of 2015
Published on 10/21/2015
Consumers Require Businesses to Respond to the “Any” Challenge
Today, new technologies and changing consumer consumption habits are creating a new marketing revolution called OmniChannel. OmniChannel is based on the “any” Challenge, meaning that today’s consumer wants relevant content anywhere, any time and using any device they choose. Consumers are constantly connected using a variety of mobile, tablet, computer and wearable devices and want to use them to get the information and business content they desire…immediately.
While the “any” challenge appears clear, there are two unseen factors critical to making it a reality. The first is that all devices must be able to identify the individual at the time of the engagement. If you can’t identify the individual, it is impossible to deliver truly relevant content. The second is the need to use real-time behavioral information to make the “any” connection. In our consumer-controlled marketplace, marketers need Randy Hlavac is a lecturer in the Medill IMC department and teaches Digital, Social and Mobile Marketing. Randy is also a faculty advisor for Vitamin IMC and is the director of the Medill IMC OmniChannel Initiative, which trains students to market in a real-time world. Outside of Northwestern, Randy is the CEO of Marketing Synergy, Inc., a consulting company dedicated to helping organizations improve their strategic and tactical marketing programs using the advanced analytics necessary to market in today’s real-time engagement world. real-time marketing systems to respond to an individual’s behaviors or lack of behaviors as they read, download or engage with your content. Today, marketing is a two-way, realtime, one-to-one engagement and we need a business model to reflect this new reality.
Omni-Channel Marketing Addresses the “Any” Challenge
As shown in Figure 1, the OmniChannel model starts with a consumer. They are free to use social, mobile, websites, private virtual communities (PVCs) and Internet of Things (IoT) devices to access our company and our content — wherever we have it. Their real-time activity is captured in warehouses that also utilize tracking keys to identify the individuals best fit for your company.
As the consumer is engaged, data flows from the warehouse to a real-time marketing system linked to the company’s sales and marketing systems. From the database, the real-time marketing system receives persona, product and relationship data to allow the system to interpret the consumer’s current behaviors and identify opportunities to engage with the individual. Using Artificial Intelligence, the system determines the best course of action to engage with the consumer in that moment or later using any of their preferred devices. In the OmniChannel vision, the consumer’s behaviors [and non-behaviors] link with historical and descriptive data to determine the engagement that will benefit your brand the most. It is truly one-to-one, real-time engagement.
Like any marketing revolution, OmniChannel requires the integration of marketers to learn new ways to develop and manage business. It requires that marketers develop:
- New technologies like social monitoring systems, real-time data warehouses and marketing systems
- New analytics and tracking techniques to continually manage the real-time relationship
- New marketing channels like mobile, PVCs and social systems where people address their passions and the trigger events that impact their lives
Like the IMC revolution, OmniChannel gives marketers new ways to build relationships with their high-value markets.
Medill IMC & IBM — The Omni-Channel Initiative
Medill IMC is leading the way in building the OmniChannel business model for today’s digital age. Under the OmniChannel Initiative, IBM is providing IMC with software, expert support and the data required to build the OmniChannel model. Medill is integrating the technologies into our current academic courses and creating new courses to improve our marketing skills in mobile and IoT technologies. We are also working with clients to explore how the OmniChannel model will work in B2B and B2C applications. As we learn how best to develop, deploy and manage OmniChannel systems, our knowledge will be used to help our students understand how to market to consumers anywhere, any time, on any device they choose.
Today, consumers demand control of the marketing process and, using an OmniChannel approach, IMC marketers can remain at the cutting edge of marketing in our digital world. [END]