“Technology has always been an enabler of change, but it is becoming the driving force of that change. As everything becomes capable of being connected to everything else, technology is fundamentally changing business propositions.“
Insightive.tv: What challenges do you face when attempting to reach your target audience?
Ruth: Dimension Data has been in business for thirty-three years, but we have always been a fairly quiet brand. We have been fortunate to work with some amazing clients around the world, but, for many years, building a brand was not a high priority for us. Growth in the market has changed this. We are now competing against, and working alongside organisations that have much stronger brands than our own.
We are also working to maintain relationships with a widening number of touchpoints within any organisation — something that has changed dramatically in the tech space over the last three to five years as technology has become a dominate business driver. Traditionally, we used to focus on the CIO and his or her team. The business owner and procurement team might comprise a secondary audience. This is no longer the case. For example, within our own organisation, between the marketing and HR departments, we have a bigger budget than our own IT team for internal transformations. As technology marketers, we need to makes sure that we have relationships with HR, Heads of Retail, Marketing Directors, Operations teams, etc. Business owners have become much more engaged and interested in technology to deliver their outcomes. The multiplicity creates a challenge in establishing and maintaining these relationships.
Insightive.tv: How do you cut through the noise?
Ruth: From our perspective, it is vital to look at our technology value proposition alongside our industry value proposition. For example, when approaching clients in the financial service industry, our ability to talk about low latency trading is vital to emphasise because it is a key concern of the industry. It is important to know the needs of our target audience within an organisation and across sectors.
Currently, there is a lot of discussion around the wonderful tools and technologies that are now in our proverbial tool bag as marketers — social media, digital channels and particularly the data that they can give us on potential clients. These provide amazing opportunities, but they are also distractions. I think one of the big challenges across the wider marketing community is keeping focus on core marketing principles.
We have to make sure that we have a clear understanding of our marketplace — that we have insight into the needs of clients and the problems that they are trying to solve. We need clear messaging that can address our ability to help solve those problems and a clear emphasis on what differentiates us from our competitors. Understanding those factors, along with having a clear picture of who needs to be targeted, are prerequisites for success regardless of the new technologies that are brought to bear within the larger process.
From a wider perspective, it is also essential that the entire marketing, sales and delivery apparatus work as a single mechanism. It is no good to connect with the right stakeholders if the sales teams are not prepared to close the deal, or the business cannot deliver on the message. We have to focus on the end-to-end client experience. I see it as the marketing team’s responsibility to understand and own the client experience around all the touchpoints in the business.
Insightive.tv: What is an example of a successful marketing campaign you have recently undertaken?
Ruth: I think that the concept of a marketing campaign is, itself, becoming outdated. The move to always-on engagement means understanding our clients to make sure that we are ready to proactively respond and engage with clients in a way that is timely to them.
However, we are working to increase our overall brand resonance within particular demographics. As I mentioned, this has historically not been a high priority. For example, although we have an almost billion dollar business in security, last year, we conducted research among our top three-hundred clients that indicated that two-thirds of them were unaware that we could provide security solutions. Positively, we were able to build a large security business without real brand penetration — but this is something we are looking to change. There are huge opportunities for us to help existing clients within this space alone.
Some of the most visible work we have done in the last few years to address this was to invest in two cycling programmes — a technology partnership with the Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.) which owns the Tour de France, and the sponsorship of a professional cycling team that is now called Team Dimension Data.
After the first day of the Tour de France in 2015, traffic to our website rose by nearly 3,000%. But this project went beyond putting our logo on television. We chose cycling because it is the fastest growing sport among high earning executives aged 35 to 55. Even more importantly, it allowed us to tell a story through demonstrating the transformative effect of technology — outfitting every bike with sensors and providing the capability to analyse that data in real time revolutionised how cycling is viewed by allowing fans to receive previously inaccessible information about the speed and distance of riders in a visual format on their mobile phones or television. That further allowed us to tell the cybersecurity and cloud technology stories that sit behind that transformation. Marketing is becoming ever more about storytelling. This gave us an engaging and visible story to tell about the transformative effects of our technology. The most successful marketing campaigns contain these multiple levels of targeting and storytelling capabilities.
Insightive.tv: How do you see the tech space changing?
Ruth: Staying up to date within the industry is an ongoing effort. In the twenty years I have been in the tech space, I don’t think there has been another time when technology has been so critically important to companies’ strategic business transformations. Technology has always been an enabler of change, but it is becoming the driving force of that change. As everything becomes capable of being connected to everything else, technology is fundamentally changing business propositions. I think that this is a massive opportunity.
Our strap line is ‘Accelerate your ambition.’ We don’t just focus on Dimension Data clients, we also focus on our employees, employee engagement, and employee traction. Keeping the right talent within an organisation is a big challenge for all businesses. If we understand the ambition of our clients, their employees and our contacts within an organisation, we know that we can help them achieve their goals through technology. One of the big shifts in the tech sector is that clients have become more specific about what they want and how they want their applications to run. We are now in a position to deliver those requests back to clients as a service. Although this is changing how we interact with clients, it hasn’t changed what we do. We bring together various technologies and work to integrate and manage those technologies proactively. Ultimately, we facilitate seamless technology for our clients to do whatever they need. What this entails may change, but the outcome will remain the same.
Ruth Rowan is the Group Executive for Marketing at Dimension Data. With twenty years’ experience leading marketing teams — previously CMO of AMEA for BT and EMEA Marketing Director for Siebel Systems — Ruth now leads Dimension Data’s global marketing strategy and team. We spoke with Ruth to understand how she uses a holistic business approach to cut through the noise and connect with key stakeholders in an era of digital channel saturation. We gained insight into how changes in technology are transforming the way businesses operate, and, in turn, how technology firms must market their products.
Dimension Data accelerates their clients’ ambitions through helping organisations use the world’s best technologies to transform their businesses. Founded in 1983, the company now operates in 49ountries and works with clients at every stage of their technology journeys.