NEW YORK: Brand owners like PepsiCo, Best Buy and Aetna are seeking to build greater links between their marketing and technology teams, reflecting changing consumer preferences.

PepsiCo, the food and beverage group, has recently run schemes in the US and Europe to identify promising digital start-ups, and worked with Foursquare, the mobile geo-location service.

"Computing is rapidly evolving into a real 'ecology,' where chips will be embedded in everything from your coffee mug to your sweater," Bonin Bough, PepsiCo's global head of digital, told Forbes.

"The challenge for marketers will be finding the delicate balance of embracing this new ecology ... without pushing us toward a world where we become extraneous to the very technology we create."

Bough suggested marketers must forge closer ties with and chief technology officers (CTO) and chief information officers (CIO).

Lisa Macpherson, SVP, marketing, at Hallmark Cards, added: "We've gone through the making marketing credible with the CFO and partnering to do great shopper and trade marketing with the sales officer. Now it really is about the CIO and developing the data networks and connectedness that can let us do great database interactive marketing."

Deepak Advani, IBM's vice president, predictive analysis, similarly suggested the sheer volume of data now available, particularly thanks to social media, was fuelling such processes.
"When you combine computer science and mathematics to disciplines like marketing it really changes the game in a revolutionary way."

Aetna, the health insurance specialist, has a mobile app providing customers with access to their records, alongside equivalent online tools, and a web-based payments estimator.

"Our goal is straightforward - to use our marketing and technology resources to build the best possible health care experience for everyone," said Robert Mead, its CMO. "We need to create consumer technology that is fast, seamless, integrated, relevant and flexible."

Robert Stephens, CTO of Best Buy, the electronics chain, regularly meets with Barry Judge, its CMO. Their output to date has included the Twelpforce, offering customer service on Twitter, demonstrating the transformative effect of the new media era.

"My job is to transform trends into reality for us," Stephens said, adding that engaging consumers can increase loyalty and differentiation. "Advertising is a tax you pay for being unremarkable," he said.

Data sourced from Forbes, AdAge,; additional content by Warc staff