Chief Marketing Officers from various industries gathered in Chicago on March 14th for Argyle Executive Forum’s 2014 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum to discuss effective marketing strategies and innovative practices for the upcoming 2014 year.

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Gunjan Aggarwal, Vice President and Head of Human Resources, North America at Ericsson recently joined a panel at Argyle Executive Forum's 2014 Human Capital Leadership Forum: Spring Event in San Francisco, titled "Talent Strategy and Keeping Employees Engaged." Today, Aggarwal further discusses Ericsson's talent on a global scale.

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Ken Wilcox, EVP of Customer Service & Sales at Republic Services, and Phil Moehlenpah, Managing Director of Worldwide Services for FedEx Services, both articulate the importance of big data and analytics and how to best utilize this growth as a way to improve business practices and drive customer engagement.

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Colette LaForce, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at AMD, discusses AMD’s employee-led brand transformation, the evolving role of the CMO, and what excites her most about the future of AMD.

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On February 11, 2014, human resources professionals joined the 2014 Redefining Employee Engagement in Today’s Results-Driven World Virtual Event. Argyle Executive Forum brought together HR professionals to discuss changes in employee engagement and how HR professionals can best adapt to these changes in order to ensure successful HR practices. Perspectives were given by Gary Harrison-Ducros, Vice President Labor Relations for Frito-Lay; Donna Howard, Chief Human Resources Officer for Sonic Healthcare USA; Sumeet Kapoor, Senior Vice President HR Strategy & Change Management for Huntington Bank; and Razor Suleman, Founder & Chief People Officer for Achievers.

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The chairman and CEO of Merkle, David Williams, opens his talk with some background on who Merkel is and what they’re doing for the customer revolution, as he puts it. Coming from a database marketing background, he calls the modern company a CRM agency with “more complete customer portfolios.” These days, he says, the company focuses on increasing customer value through segmentation, working within the changes that he sees currently happening in the marketing environment.

He touches on a few historical changes, noting companies like Tide and Marlboro that put dozens of other companies out of business with national media, as well as Expedia and Progressive which he says “teach consumers how to do things they’ve never done before, which is basically buy online.” What is changing now, he argues, is that marketers are now able to have a level of control in the competitive advantage which they didn’t have in those previous changes: namely, with the advent of social media and digital media.

Introducing the issue of big data, the next step, he says, is to move from the “what” to the “how”. He mentions his surprise, for example, at hearing a CMO use the word “attribution” in a previous session: “Attribution’s a new thing now because we’re looking at digital attribution and in reality we’ve been dealing with attribution for 20 years.  Engaging consumers in more effective and productive ways… are the things we’re going to see out there.”

According to David, there will be six core capabilities moving forward, and he discusses each one individually: “The ability to micro target, customize, and personalize media and channel experience; the ability to create metrics as currencies … the ability to allocate resource and optimize ROI and connect the long-term value.” And last, he continues, is the ability to organize yourself in a way that allows you to respond to changes in customer, competitor, and market behaviors faster than the competitor responds to them.

He continues by saying there are two worlds that ultimately must be conquered, in his view. “We need to conquer the brand creation world and what we call the brand activation world at Merkle.” To elaborate, he uses the example of one of Merkle’s clients, Geiko and their famous slogan “Fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent.” He next touches on the importance of the granular level of the conversation on the customer side: “…the granularity of the customer conversation – ultimately allows that customer information to trump the brand information.  We need to be respective of that brand and understand the influence.” And yet at the end of the day, a company only makes money through customer behavior. It’s the customer enterprise, then, that is really responsible for broad level integration.

He finally touches on what he sees as the greatest challenge for companies today: the organizational difficulties which they face given the complexity of operations, including the CRM database. However, he argues that the widespread digitization of functions is what is currently mitigating those challenges, and what will continue to benefit companies moving forward.

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