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Jerry Wind, Lauder Professor and Academic Director of The Wharton Fellows Program, explains that new media is changing the challenges marketers face. While it used to be a matter of getting a message to the right people, constant information streams from offline and online now make it about getting the right message to the right people at the right time. He proposes a new Network Orchestration model as a guide for doing just that.

A major challenge facing marketers today is the coordination and integration of the "right" story – message, positioning, value proposition – with the "right" creative, and the "right" portfolio of touch points. This task has become increasingly difficult with the proliferation of new media. The “holistic” impression one wants to leave in the minds of consumers across the growing number of new, traditional, owned, earned, and consumer-produced media, contrasts sharply with the corporate reality where each of these touch points is typically the domain of a separate silo (marketing, advertising, customer service, etc.). The overall result is often messaging, execution and delivery strategies that are fragmented across touch points, and potentially confusing to consumers.

The Wharton Future of Advertising (“FoA”) Program has proposed developing the position of Network Orchestrator as one potential solution. The concept is based in part on studies of the Li & Fung trading company, which Orchestrates over 12,000 global factories without owning them, and yet consistently delivers the right product at the right price to the right place at the right time.1 It was developed further in an FoA Orchestration Workshop with perspectives from world-renowned composer Jay Reise and other experts from diverse disciplines.

The Network Orchestration model of marketing/advertising is driven by five key guidelines:

1. Select your metaphor. Do your vision, objectives, strategy and unique context require a composer? An orchestra conductor? A jazz ensemble director? A leaderless team of equals as employed by the Orpheus or St. Paul Chamber Orchestras? Musical groups provide appealing metaphors because musicians must readily adapt to numerous conditions. But you can choose other metaphors: curator, choreographer, basketball coach, or even air traffic controller. Each metaphor has different implications for the role of the Network Orchestrator as a creator and leader in your organization.

2. Orchestrate consumers as well as employees. The accepted view of customer-centric organization (with a focus on CRM) is based on the unrealistic assumption that the firm is in control. In the new reality, empowered and increasingly skeptical customers are in control. External activities, like conversations on social networks, may be determining perceptions of brands. Engagement of consumers as co-designers, co-producers, co-marketers, content creators, and pricers is still in its infancy, but growing fast. Truly forward looking organizations must begin to engage customers instead through Customer Managed Relationship (“CMR”) platforms – like the Saber system that allowed travel agents to manage relationships with airlines – that provide consumers an effective, efficient way to manage their relationships with your company. No Orchestration is complete without active, fully orchestrated engagement of customers and prospects.

3. Orchestrate to leverage open innovation. Open innovation brings the benefits of outsourcing to all business domains, enabling the creation of innovative, powerful new business models. InnoCentive, for example, discovered the pivotal power of open innovation when they found that the further the discipline of a problem-solver from the discipline of a problem, the higher the likelihood of success. Thus open innovation is not an option, but a must. But because open innovation eliminates much traditional managerial control, Orchestration becomes critical. Victors & Spoils is a great example: they use Orchestration to manage the power of over 6,000 independent creatives, and leverage this advantage to win major accounts like Harley Davidson.

4. Orchestrate for emerging markets and trends. Economic growth is fastest in emerging economies. And operating successfully in BRIC and other emerging markets requires creating a network of the right strategic alliances, and properly orchestrating those alliances. Other key social and business trends require a shift to Orchestration too. Consider the historical failure of traditional managerial models to address changes such as the fusion of retailing, e-tailing and advertising, the increased importance of social networks, rapid advances in science, technology and communications, and other equally dramatic tipping points. Orchestration can help organizations address rapid or unexpected changes by bridging traditional disciplinary and functional silos within and across firms.

5. Orchestrate on solid principles. Your Orchestration efforts should follow Orchestration principles and best practices, such as: 2

  • Virtuosity – individual expertise
  • Context – knowing your role
  • Adaptability – ability to accept change, and improvise
  • Awareness – of overall “composition” and other players’ roles
  • Communication – with all involved
  • Solution-driven – concise, specific feedback on individual players’ performance
Orchestration can help organizations address rapid or unexpected changes by bridging traditional disciplinary and functional silos within and across firms.

The transformation from traditional hierarchical organization to Orchestration is not easy. But following the five interrelated guidelines for effective Orchestration presented here can help organizations deliver a more holistic customer experience. And experimenting along any of the dimensions suggested by the five guidelines can be a first step in the journey to effective Orchestration. But one key question remains unanswered. Who is the right Network Orchestrator for your organization? The CMO? An outside advertising or other agency? Some new entity?

Maybe you, the reader, can become your company’s Network Orchestrator?