Microsoft’s Future in Digital Marketing

Romi Mahajan Microsoft's Digital Marketing

Over the weekend I got to meet with Romi Mahajan the World Wide Director of the Digital Marketing Platform Group at Microsoft. His role is to create the vision for Digital Marketing as it relates to Microsoft SharePoint 2010 for Internet Sites, and Microsoft FAST Search Server technology to create great digital experiences for its customers and leverage its extensive partner network. I was really surprised and excited to learn that Microsoft is taking the Digital Marketing place very seriously since they are one of the largest players in the space!

Below is a transcript of some Q&A that I captured with Romi …

1) What is your vision for Microsoft and Digital Marketing?

I believe digital marketing is at the center of a set of tectonic changes happening in the marketplace, across enterprise and consumer-based scenarios (which are converging quickly). Companies have a core set of common questions (How do I create loyalty in my current and potential customer base, how do I create new forms of commerce, how do I expect my brand in meaningful ways, how do I connect to my value chain (partners etc) in a seamless, efficient, and exciting way…) and in each case, digital marketing can provide either the foundation for the solution or elements of the foundation. Meanwhile, at the same time media, advertising, technology, and brand are all moving towards a singularity and, as such, digital marketing becomes the easy moniker with which to refer to all these changes. Microsoft as a company not only understands the changes afoot, but is the only company that has direct involvement in all the different aspects of digital media like paid, earned, and owned media, back end and front end technologies (from the OS to the presentation layer), and a solution for all sorts of computing devices.  I see Microsoft at the forefront of digital marketing in the next 5 years.

2) How much of the Digital Marketing spectrum does the Microsoft’s Digital Marketing cover?

The Microsoft Digital Marketing suite covers many but not all of the aspects of the digital marketing.  That is why the partner ecosystem (Agencies, ISVs, Integrators, Consultants) are core to rounding out the offering.  In areas, we excel, in others we have “ an answer” and in some areas we rely 100% on partners.  That I believe is the winning model and the only one that scales.

3) How is Microsoft helping brands to connect with customers using the Microsoft Digital Marketing suite?

Microsoft has powered thousands of dynamic websites including sites like Dell.com, Ferrari.com, Energizer.com, Chesapeake Energy.com and more. Through interactive elements on websites to the provision of winning digital experiences via mobile, Microsoft is working very hard to help brand connect to customers. I don’t want however to overstate the case.  There are many great firms out there who we partner with and who help us understand the customer in new and exciting ways.  There are also other great companies who compete directly with us. The key is not “who wins” but how the customers’ customer is being taken care of and served in the process.

(4) What stand out examples can you give us of Brands using the Microsoft Digital Marketing suite?

So one of the best examples we have is Ferrari.com where they used SharePoint as the presentation layer and content management system. Few people know that SharePoint is one of the largest content management software’s out there, not just inside the enterprise but also outside the enterprise.

Ferrari wanted to make its Web site as state-of-the-art and captivating as the cars it manufactures! They migrated from a Java-based infrastructure to Microsoft Office SharePoint to streamline development, simplify content management, and improve the user experience. And with the new site, Ferrari has created a stronger audience connection while increasing traffic by 237 percent, with a 150 percent increase in unique visitors.

5) Where are Microsoft and Digital Marketing heading next?

The future is an exciting one for both Microsoft and for the Digital Marketing industry in general.  While aspects of digital marketing have “jumped the shark,” the change is here to stay.  Look for more adaptive, dynamic websites, set of services that when combined intelligently create new digital marketing platforms, a lot more ‘closed-loop’ marketing in the digital marketing space, the rise of what I call “The Gaming Metaphor” as the central “method of interaction” that dominates digital experiences, and a host of others that I’m not smart enough to predict!

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