2021 has started with a new vim and vigour amongst marketers to kick start the projects that are going to drive meaningful change for their businesses.

This is a continuation of an empowering period for marketers. The way marketers have stepped in to deliver business continuity and critical CX projects has been seen from all quarters - affirming the convictions of many marketing believers and converting the doubting few.

Senior management are engaging with priority marketing projects more than ever and provide meaningful sponsorship where it is needed. Where the relationship and communication between CMO and CEO is strong and the value creation is understood, the greater the impact and influence marketing can have.

In many instances, marketing departments are being given the license to lead their businesses in the development of certain practices and processes, often driving the digital transformation in distribution, in partnership with the central IT/digital teams.

These strategic partnerships might have been accelerated and consolidated in the past 12 months; however, marketers were acting as agents of change before Covid-19 disrupted our lives and livelihoods so significantly.

On average, we find firms are typically three years through a five-year digital transformation project to enable better data insight, personalised customer journeys and end-to-end digital distribution.

Marketers are pioneering this change by bringing client insight, commercial positioning and marketing discipline to these projects. The main hurdle (and admittedly, it's not a new challenge) often comes down to data: the quality of it, the inconsistency of CRM updates and the lack of connectivity to other areas. There is no quick fix here, rather the need for a more strategic commitment on an ongoing basis.

Perhaps a more recent challenge and a direct response to the pandemic is the annual planning process. 2020 challenged conventional thinking and has led to a much more fluid approach. Increasingly we see strategic annual goals being set but the tactical planning to implementation cycle is shorter, much more agile and based on clear measurement against metrics. Distribution teams are working closer together to be more relevant and responsive on a monthly basis.

One month into 2021 and I'm excited by the renewed budgets to transformational projects and the ownership being entrusted to marketing. While I might be one the many marketing believers, it bodes well for the future visibility and authority of marketing in our industry.