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(originally published by Booz & Company)


Signals for the Coming Year

We have seen this in many sectors, most prominently in consumer products. Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Nike, and Unilever are reinventing themselves as they did at the start of the mass media era, into generators of marketing innovation and creators of business models.

For marketers, the greatest challenge and opportunity is the new imperative of metrics. Based in part on the rich availability of data about online consumer activity (but also related to new insights about the impact of television and other legacy media on consumer behavior), marketers are learning new ways of judging the effectiveness of their work, and building new real-time efforts to create responsive, generative advertising. Although new media have been around for a dozen years, it’s only since 2006 that the trend of customer-centric, insight-rich marketing has broken through into the mainstream. Most consumer-oriented companies will never be the same.

All of these trends favor companies that can be more internally capable and resilient. Our experience and our observations suggest that this is happening — at least in the best companies we work with. And as the examples of the leaders become more visible, we think others may follow.

In every industry, there is at least one company that has shown its ability to master these challenges. We hope this is a good year for you, and that you will be able to master your own challenges in good time to enjoy a prosperous 2008.

Author Profiles:

Art Kleiner ([email protected]) is editor-in-chief of strategy+business. A new edition of his 1996 book on the history of corporate change, The Age of Heretics, will be published by Wiley Books in 2008.
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  1. Amy Bernstein, “Making Innovation Strategy Succeed,” s+b Leading Idea, 1/08/08: An interview with Booz Allen Vice President Barry Jaruzelski lays out strategies for innovation that can provide overall resilience in the coming year. Click here.
  2. Kaj Grichnik and Conrad Winkler, “Manufacturing’s ‘Make or Break’ Moment,” s+b, Winter 2007: Excerpt from the forthcoming book Make or Break: How Manufacturers Can Leap from Decline to Revitalization (McGraw-Hill, 2008) describes such new operational challenges as scarcity and human capital issues — and how to address them. Click here.
  3. Rich Kauffeld, Johan Sauer, and Sara Bergson, “Partners at the Point of Sale,” s+b, Autumn 2007: Example of the new kinds of activities made possible by trends in media and IT. Click here.
  4. Christopher Vollmer, Always On: Advertising, Marketing and Media in an Era of Consumer Control (McGraw-Hill, 2008): Forthcoming book about how new media have changed the marketing function. Click here.
  5. Steven Wheeler, Walter McFarland, and Art Kleiner, “A Blueprint for Strategic Leadership,” s+b, Winter 2007: How to build an organization in which executives will flourish. Click here.
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