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Why choosing the right people for IoT marketing matters

iot-marketing Source: iStock/WeekendImagesInc.

According to a recent German report from KPMG on digitalization in manufacturing, the biggest need for change has been identified in technology (75 %). Followed by the development of existing staff (63 %), and internal organization (62 %). The findings on staff and organization can certainly be transferred on other industries as the results will not vary significantly. In other words, the respondents clearly name the need to look into the human side if businesses want to succeed.

So what does that mean for marketing? How can today’s leaders ensure they develop their existing staff to respond to the needs of tomorrow’s IoT? What skills do they need to bring on board to succeed? What will the marketing organization look like in the future?

Establishing a bimodal marketing team

While we are already used to flying changes in our digital era, our organizational setup hasn’t experienced much transformation in the past few decades.

Digital transformation will change how we are organized in the future. Priorities, budgets, and responsibilities will shift. Flat, decentralized, autonomous entities will emerge. Hiring an IoT marketing manager and simply putting him or her in the existing marketing team is not necessarily the best answer.

It’s not enough to just continue the way we always have. We need to stop (and I mean STOP), think, and adapt.

An option could be to establish bimodal marketing similar to approaches that IT implemented some time ago: While one team continues to run marketing as is, other members become part of cross-functional teams looking into IoT and digital business models. Many companies are already positioning staff in “innovation labs” or “incubation teams” to establish a protected environment for just this purpose. The priorities are different, this should lead the thinking about reporting lines.

Some reports talk about bringing the best people on board, which implies to a certain extent that you should hire new staff, such as digital natives. I would rephrase this slightly – identify the people you already have who are willing to embark on that journey, develop them, and then bring new talent on board only where you identify gaps. Not everything that is possible makes sense. You will need a mix of experienced people who know the company structure and digital natives.

What skills does your IoT marketing team need?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you look first to your existing staff or to hiring new people: you need the right mindset. How do you select the right people? What are your “non-negotiables” regarding team members following you on the digital journey? While leaders need to make decisions individually based on their own company’s needs and circumstances, keeping a few key issues in mind is a good idea:


The ultimate goal in the digital era is real time, so the best qualified people are those with a sense of urgency and a proven experience in making things happen. For instance, operational experts with the ability to get things done.


As IoT is all about entering new territory, you need open-minded people who are interested in new technologies and developments. This means risk takers who are not afraid of an uncertain future.

Business acumen

IoT can benefit businesses in multiple ways, from improving operations, reducing cost, and increasing security, to generating new business models. Marketers who can look at the overall picture and business impact are preferred. They should know how to develop offers that are linked with value propositions and a story. Self-starters who are interested in new approaches, have an entrepreneurial spirit, and the ability to make the right decisions autonomously will succeed.


To foster integration, you need “connectors” – people who network easily and bring teams together. This is both internally and externally relevant as companies might need to work with third parties in a partner ecosystem to deliver complete solutions.


Both successes and progress need to be internally communicated, and ultimately, externally. People with a proper understanding of relevant channels, communities, and how to craft powerful messages and stories will prove the most beneficial.

Data-driven digital marketing skills

Digitally successful companies measure everything possible and continuously optimize with the aim of maximizing business results. Since IoT is about using data, employees will need skills to collect and analyze data and draw the right conclusions. Experience in data-driven marketing to propel demand and ROI are critical for the success of digital transformation projects.

Sounds like a lot to wrap your mind around? Don’t worry – it all comes down to team work. And to leaders identifying the necessary skills already available to them or gaps in those skills. The most important thing of all is to get started. Establishing the right mindset and choosing the right people is a good way to begin.

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