Wrangling Data in Service to Digital Marketing

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Companies have been leveraging digital channels such as banner ads, email, and software tools like CRM to reach customers for years. But SAP’s Chief Digital Marketing Officer is a newly created, one year-old position – highlighting the critical role that digital has recently assumed within the world of marketing.

Mika Yamamoto is the first and only person to have held this title at SAP, and the first CDMO that I have ever met. She took over the role from her prior position as Chief Marketing Officer of SAP SMB, again showing the primacy of digital within forward thinking organizations. Her charge is to optimize and align all of a company’s investments in digital assets and channels to drive greater profitability.

Yamamoto’s career arc has informed her approach to this task. From her very first job after college, she learned that data is critical to identifying, testing and measuring success. But that data alone is useless without the understanding of human nature and tendencies. So today, she seeks to underpin her digital-first strategy at SAP with offline insights into the relationships customers hold with companies.

Yamamoto did not arrive to her role via a traditional technology path.  She attended college to pursue degrees in economics and psychology. Her first job out of school was as a consultant, focusing on change management in the banking industry.

Coming during the era of bank mergers, her job was to find a way to make the two entities better together. She quickly learned that effectively combining sometimes disparate cultures was critical to these mergers, and that understanding motivations and relationships helped best align them in service to customers and shareholders.

Next, Yamamoto joined the analyst group Gartner, focusing on research into how small and medium businesses invested in technology. Large vendors like Microsoft, Cisco and SAP used her insights to optimize products and solutions to meet those unique business needs. Much of her recommendations at Gartner revolved around the use of data to make better decisions and realize improved outcomes.

Eventually, Yamamoto joined the Windows product management team at Microsoft. There, she helped Microsoft manage the consumer shift from desktops to laptops, and sparked the company’s journey into retail. In fact, Yamamoto was employee number five at Microsoft stores.

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